As the world of wholesale distribution continues to change and progress rapidly, it’s important not to be left behind. One way in which the wholesale distribution and retail landscape is constantly evolving is through the ongoing development, advancement and adoption of artificial intelligence – and if your business is yet to know about, research or even invest in the following emerging technologies, you may find yourself distributing in the dark ages.
Read on for five innovative trends in software and machinery that have the potential to transform the way that orders are taken, fulfilled and delivered.
The use of robotics in order fulfilment is an increasing practice in warehouse premises. Improving the speed of task completion dramatically, artificial intelligence allows wholesale distributors to expand their order fulfilment capabilities, improve efficiencies, and reduce costs.
Wholesale distributors already have access to structured data, such as information from past order histories, ERP business systems and CRMs. But cognitive analytics are using more and more intelligent ways to collate, and then learn from, the wealth of unstructured data we produce such as social media output, images, emails, etc. Eventually this will lead to cognitive systems that can form their own hypothesis and predictions based on our digital content and habits – Amazon has now gained a patent for a concept it calls ‘anticipatory shipping’, which starts the process of delivering a package before the customer has even completed the buying process.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects which contain sensors and electronic components designed to gather data that can improve customer service and improve internal operations. Wholesale distributors can capitalise on IoT sensors in areas such as warehousing, transportation and equipment monitoring to automate processes and improve operations. For example, when restocking warehouse bins, the bin itself can advise of a stockout situation, turning an inanimate object into a helpful tool for stock inventory management.
Amazon Go is a store concept that is introducing the buying public to checkout-less shopping, allow the customer to walk in, select the staple food items they wish to purchase, and walk away without physically paying. Highly advanced tracking sensors identify which items a shopper has selected, which are then automatically charged to the individual’s Amazon Prime account. It’s the ultimate use of technology for consumer convenience, and could revolutionise the way we are served (or not served) in-store.
With delivery becoming a key metric, many are looking to make progress in the field of driver-less vehicle technology. Experiments involving convoys of driver-less trucks have already taken place, and in times to come, autonomous deliveries lead to lower shipping costs and improved delivery speeds. Drones are also taking flight as a delivery method of the not-too-distant future – despite current restrictions prohibiting their official use for business, tests are commonplace, and the next few years could see the technology regularly used as an air-borne courier service, and within warehouse spaces for inventory handling.
Read our full white paper on the trends you can expect to see impacting wholesale distribution in 2017, or for further information on Amazon Go and its effect on wholesale distributors, read our blog post.
Knowing that your end-to-end business processes are operating at their optimum levels will ensure that your wholesale distribution business is ready for whatever the future holds. Implementing leading business management software and embracing emerging technology will allow you to realise your potential; to find out how BlueBridge One can guide you through the use of NetSuite to reach your vision of the future talk to us today.