Past, present, future: tech to handle the forgotten side of ecommerce

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Date: 28 January 2021

Delivery drone at an automotive storage centre. Modern innovative technology and gadgets.

Ever since the rise of online giants like Amazon, ecommerce has been changing the face of sales as we know them. Within ten years of Amazon's emergence, online shopping has gone from a novelty to a standard part of everyday life. And, with more of us than ever stuck at home, unable to shop using traditional routes, that trend has skyrocketed.

In fact, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to shop online during 2021. That spells a significant point where ecommerce overtakes traditional retail, something that all brands are making the most of by increasing their online sales capabilities.

While retailers once resisted this shift, many have now embraced it for the benefit of remote teams, which can work safely despite the ongoing pandemic. Everything from accounting to customer service is now possible across remote teams with the help of tools like chatbots and ecommerce websites.

Unfortunately, while the world (and many managers) focus on the customer-facing tech that makes sales possible, back-end ecommerce processes are increasingly forgotten. Yet, with some physicality still necessary here, focusing on back-end tech could actually prove crucial right now. Certainly, a failure to reduce physical contact where products themselves are concerned opens some worrying doors.

Luckily, while the rest of us have been distracted by ecommerce smokescreens, some wise developers have spotted this issue. And, with the help of these past, present, and future technologies, they've made it possible to overcome any safety or production setbacks here, even during these trying times.

Automated conveyors

Conveyor systems have been a standard in ecommerce factories for years, but automated advancements stand to make them key players in these increasingly distanced times. While manned production lines might once have been a selling point, they're now a risk to your team and customers. As such, turning to automated conveyors designed for contactless ecommerce fulfilment is now as non-negotiable as remote working for keeping everyone safe.

Cognitive supply chains

Into the present, recent challenges have also led to significant increases in the adoption of cognitive supply chains. Put simply, a supply chain is a network between companies and suppliers which contactlessly manages everything from inventory tracking to order management and distribution. Ruled by AI, these allow for the distanced management of even the most in-depth processes that would otherwise have required physical presence. Much like the Zoom of the warehouse/distribution world, these make supply chain management possible without the risks of physical presence.

Drones and droids

Stepping into the future, growing calls for contactless delivery have also increased the focus on the possibilities presented by drones and droids for delivery purposes. Admittedly, this isn't an altogether brand new idea, with Domino's delivering a pizza by droid as far back as 2016. Amazon was already well on the way to a fast drone delivery service before the outbreak of the pandemic. But, the last 12 months have led companies across the board to increase spending here. So much so, it has even opened up the possibility of a drone airport that makes delivery possible within hours, all without another human in sight!

Copyright 2021. This article was made possible by Jeremy Bowler.

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