Six predictions for Australian retailers and provide chains in 2021

Raghav Sibal

Manhattan Associates top trends include automation and robotics, rationalization of returns, courier selection, sustainability and smart technology.

From Manhattan Associates' Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Raghav Sibal.

Manhattan Associates Inc. predicts that six key technology trends will impact Australian and New Zealand retailers and supply chains in 2021.

2020 was a tough year for all businesses, but retail has hit particularly hard. With a vaccine on the way, 2021 brings new hope to the competitive retail industry, but the continued surge in e-commerce means many of the challenges facing this year are likely to remain in the longer term.

As the Australian retail sector continues to grow through 2021, Manhattan Associates shares six predictions that will shape the future of delivery and storage this year.

  1. Meeting the challenges of working with people and machines

In 2020, unmatched volumes of e-commerce orders went through warehouses, and this trend will continue in 2021. This will keep the labor issue at the fore and highlight the need for organizations to diversify their workforce pools using automation and robotics. It is expected that companies will continue to invest in greater automation and greater integration of humans and machines in warehouses in 2021. This increases capacity and allows for faster store replenishment to meet ecommerce customer expectations.

  1. Hiring help to cope with peak times

While automation and robotics will be far more common in warehouses in 2021, some retailers will continue to choose to use this technology part-time. The benefits of using pay-as-you-go robots to support peak trading hours will become common in 2021 as retailers not only cope with an increased percentage of ecommerce orders, but also the expected return of traditional peak hours. While many retailers previously viewed the temporary addition of automation or robotics as too much of a challenge to manage and technology integration, a flexible, scalable, and customizable warehouse management system (WMS) can easily consider maintaining part-time assistance (human or cobot).

  1. Rationalize returns to increase efficiency

The surge in ecommerce orders has also led to an increase in returns. Traditionally reserved for the start of the year, when retailers would prepare for a rush of Christmas returns, retailers now have to prepare for higher returns throughout the year. Streamlining the return process is key to making sure that profits aren't affected too much. An effective WMS can help streamline the return process, and it also means returned inventory can be made available to stores or online channels more quickly.

  1. Giving consumers a courier choice

In 2020, retailers had no choice but to expand their delivery options to deliver the best customer experience. These options will be expanded even further in 2021. Many consumers have gotten used to their preferred delivery driver or method of delivery, and by 2021 these relationships will continue to grow stronger.

  1. Balancing convenience with sustainability

The expansion of delivery options will force consumers to pay more attention to the sustainability choices they will make in 2021. As retailers want their goods to be delivered to their customers quickly, next day delivery became the norm in 2020, and delivery shifted to subscription models like those seen at ecommerce retailers like ASOS and Pretty Little Thing.

However, in 2021, more consumers will weigh the benefits of speedy delivery and convenience against the impact their buying and shipping decisions have on the planet. Research on KPMG's customer experience recently found that 58% of consumers are concerned about climate change. With many retailers already making serious commitments regarding sustainability efforts, we will no doubt see this issue as normal on the branding and government agenda.

  1. Investments in technology continue

While mainstream drone shipments may not fully have started, investment in technology is still rising. Contactless has been an integral part of in-store shopping this year, and major investments in technologies like last mile delivery robots and portable barcode scanning not only make it easier, but also show how innovative the retail and logistics sector can really be .

In 2021, we will undoubtedly see greater investments in a range of smart technologies that will benefit retail spaces in businesses large and small. This ranges from investing in big data and analytics platforms to extracting more valuable customer tagging data. on robotics and automation developments in warehouses and on the last mile of the delivery process; Introduction to cloud-based platforms that improve the internal processes of new initiatives such as dark stores or micro-fulfillment centers.

About Raghav Sibal

Raghav Sibal is the Managing Director of Manhattan Associates in Australia and New Zealand and works closely with his team with clients to understand the current state of their supply chain management and provide next generation solutions that remove weaknesses and create new sources of competitive advantage.

About Manhattan Associates

Manhattan Associates is a technology leader in supply chain and omnichannel retail. We unify information across the enterprise and converge front-end sales with running the back-end supply chain. Our software, platform technology, and unmatched experience help drive sales growth and profitability for our customers.

Manhattan Associates Inc.

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