As next day delivery statistics soar, the damaging implications on retailers who are not keeping up to speed are likely to be critical to their long term survival.

The latest figures from IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index results show 31% of online orders in 2016 opted for next day delivery, compared to 26.8% in the previous year.

This need for speed, paired with Amazon’s one hour delivery and other emerging fulfilment solutions (see below) which are being developed almost daily, means retailers are being forced to embark on strategies to get every aspect of fulfilment, warehousing and merchandising as integrated, lean and as efficient as possible and adopt new Cloud retail management solutions.

It’s the only way to meet the ever-escalating challenges of convenience, speed and experience. Retailers offering next day delivery, one-hour delivery or even Click and Collect who have not already migrated away from separated, legacy systems, will need to re-design their operations and systems around consumers. They need to provide them with new flows of real time information, products, transactions and experience.”

Whilst establishing strong courier partnerships is essential, retailers must have a centralised inventory, order processing and fulfilment capabilities coupled with intelligent sourcing and workforce management to execute flexible fulfilment strategies in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

The benefits go way beyond the customer experience to impact on the gross profit and HR efficiency by enabling retailers to use business intelligence reporting to prioritise and allocate labour and effectively pick and ship orders.

Cash flow is also improved as stock and warehousing can be accurately forecast across the entire organisation through predictive sales and suggestive purchase ordering through to optimisation of all warehousing and merchandising.

Contrary what most retailers thought and research claimed, home delivery is not the big preference – choice and convenience is. We can expect to see the continuation of the shift towards click and collect with the option for click and reserve, home delivery and new forms of convenience.

The attraction of click and collect and services such as Fast Track and Prime Now is the convenience factor.

Retailers who have redesigned and rolled out customer centric systems and processes for speed, convenience and omni-channel customer experience, will be the winners in 2017 and beyond and the role of Cloud retail management and EPoS solutions will grow.

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