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What Is a Dark Store Micro Fulfilment Centre?

27th October '21

 

What Is a Dark Store Micro Fulfilment Centre?

A Dark Store is a space that can either be used to facilitate a "curbside pick" service, where a customer collects an item, they have ordered online, or as an order fulfilment platform for rapid delivery (usually 15 minutes and under). Not open to the public, the interior of a dark supermarket may appear like a conventional supermarket, set out with aisles of shelves containing groceries and other retail items.

Online platforms such as delivery apps send orders directly to the Dark Store. These electronically generated orders are listed according to the store layout for optimal picking and picked by store employees, who walk around the clock fulfilling the orders displayed on a tablet.

The recent consumer trend for rapid on-demand delivery, has prompted many companies to locate their Dark Stores as close to customers as they can. This allows for ultra-fast delivery but smaller SKU counts. These micro dark stores can be found in unused parking structures and office spaces.

 

Why Are Dark Stores Rising in Popularity?

Delivery within 15 minutes

Social distancing and a huge change around in-store shopping have created a swell in demand for online shopping. Dark Stores fit this need, allowing consumers to buy groceries without having to enter a retail store. Customers can place their order online and either pick it up or have it delivered. This way, Dark Stores combine safe shopping with instant delivery or collection. Dark stores can deliver a shopper's items faster than the alternative of driving to a store and shopping themselves. This fills a convenience need that is currently not being met by traditional next day delivery or in-store shopping.

Greater Availability

As Dark Store operations are dedicated to fulfilling orders that are made online, they have a much clearer view of stock levels and therefore have better product availability than a pick-in store fulfilment solution.

Improved Inventory and Picking Accuracy

These stores also have improved picking accuracy. This is because the technology used ensures that the picker cannot pick up the next item unless the right goods have been scanned. This leaves little room for picking error. Additionally, if merchandise is out of stock, the system automatically identifies a perfect substitute instead of leaving this to the discretion of the picker.

24/7 Operation

As they are not restricted by opening hour regulations that are imposed on stores, online dark stores can operate 24/7 all year round. Orders can be delivered at the most convenient times for customers.

Food Remains Fresh

Delivering fresh food within minutes minimises the time that groceries spend between refrigeration and delivery due to this extremely efficient order fulfilment process.

How can Lowe Help you?

At Lowe Rental, we are Dark Store experts. If you are looking for a partner to guide you through opening or expanding your Dark Store, Lowe Rental can help you with real estate and location sourcing, refrigeration & cooling system design and professionally sourced SMART enabled IoT refrigeration and remote monitoring technology.

Contact one of our experts today.

 

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