Symbiosis of man and machine: what the future of ecommerce looks like

In our modern world, customer expectations are rising dramatically when it comes to ecommerce and order fulfilment.

Symbiosis of man and machine: what the future of ecommerce looks like

In our modern world, customer expectations are rising dramatically when it comes to ecommerce and order fulfilment, not only on the efficiency of delivery but also the overall brand experience and options provided when it comes to sustainability. As ecommerce has evolved, so has the need for technology to drive both fulfilment and customer service in tandem to maintain consumer loyalty and ensure they keep returning to their brand of choice.

To achieve this, technology remains vital. Within order fulfilment, technology provides a level of productivity and accuracy which, more often than not, has been enabled by the manual workforce within the warehouse setting. Yet the pressure is on for efficiency to be even more robust in order to achieve a seamless shopping experience for the customer. As technology evolves with this need at the forefront of operations, so will the relationship between man and machine in the ecommerce space.

The perfect symbiosis of the labour-force and tech has meant that retailers have been able to create more advancements and cost-effective ways of working, to fulfil the end goal of satisfying their customer. Many retailers opt to outsource their operations to avoid high start-up costs and capitalise on the expertise of an experienced fulfilment provider, yet some will keep choosing to invest in the latest technology to retain their customer base.

Robotics, drones, and self-driving vehicles

Advancements such as the use of drones aren’t relegated to sci-fi films. This technology is very much a reality having been tested and used in warehouses since 2018 and is set to become a significant part of the whole ecommerce fulfilment operation. With customer satisfaction constantly at the forefront amidst a crowded marketplace and cost-of-living crisis, retailers will still invest in the right tech to deliver the right level of efficiency. Along with drones, the popularity of self-driving vehicles is expected to be increasingly adopted by eCommerce. Robotics are also rapidly becoming an invaluable asset to fulfilment operations, going beyond picking and packing within a warehouse to handling and simplifying return

Use of QR Codes

The use of QR codes, a tried and tested technology, remains an integral part of e-commerce operations making deliveries and returns streamlined and efficient for the warehouse and the customer. QR codes provide more accurate information as data can be updated in real-time. Attaching QR codes to assets helps maintain a maintenance checklist which will help technicians to know exactly what to do when servicing it. QR codes can also help a retailer move forward into a more environmentally conscientious brand or business by leveraging it as a marketing tool.

Where technology falls short

When it comes to efficiency, the personal touch that comes from human interaction cannot be underestimated and most retailers, still requires human interaction to ensure the level of detail and care that customers expect during the unboxing experience. Packing remains a contentious subject within the ecommerce space, with a balance needing to be struck between seamless order and delivery and offering customers sustainable packaging solutions.

The expectation of the industry in 2023 and beyond

With customer expectations high and the marriage between manual workers and technology still needed in the warehouse space to fulfil customer needs, 2023 will see the status quo being disrupted with new technologies. Whilst the human touch is a necessary requirement in a 3PL warehouse setting, the use of robotics, self-driving carts and drones are becoming more prevalent within the industry. As the industry continues to adapt and grow along with technology, the need to develop and innovate becomes more necessary.

Joe Farrell
Joe Farrell

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