Supply Chain Discussion: Keeping Pace With the Relentless Growth of E-Commerce
In this discussion, Paul Ambruso (vice president and general manager, mobile robotics) at Berkshire Grey speaks about how the problems experienced in e-commerce sales during the pandemic are still continuing today. He sees these challenges as opportunities for technology vendors though.
The rate of growth in e-commerce orders has slowed slightly, but online sales continue, and delivery is vitally important, whether directly to a customer’s home or to a store for pickup he says.
“That means that all the problems we saw before in terms of being able to provide automation to alleviate delays and be able to support that growth are still there,” - Paul Ambruso
According to him, the three biggest challenges he sees are the continuing labour shortage, inadequate inventory space and variability in inventory. In South Africa, the availability of labour is much less of a problem. Skilled labour requires time and investment though.
As both e-commerce and retail sales continue to grow, says Ambruso, there's not enough physical space.
“That means we have to have denser solutions that fit into more constrained spaces. And last but not least, we still have a really high variability in the types of inventory and the placement of inventory across stores and across other centers for distribution. We have to be able to handle variability of goods and availability of goods on a more localized basis.” - Paul Ambruso
Ambruso says this is where the concept of hyper-local, hyper-fast delivery comes into play, meaning that goods have to be closer to customers. And that offers technology vendors many great opportunities.