Australia’s retail, manufacturing and distribution industries are operating in a landscape that is more competitive than ever before, with businesses battling it out to offer the fastest, most convenient and most reliable service.
While Australia’s supermarkets may still be evolving their approach to meet customer expectations, Coles and Woolworths have amped up automation in the last 12 months to boost their online grocery capabilities.
In recent weeks, Woolworths began working on its first eStore while Coles has two highly automated centralised fulfilment centres in the pipeline.
Consumer demand is driving this pressure to deliver faster, more efficient and more convenient order fulfilment, but there’s still a significant gap between consumer expectations and supplier capabilities, according to Karl deSouza, Kardex Remstar managing director APAC.
Kardex Remstar is a global supplier of automated storage and retrieval solutions which has been operational in Australia for a little over 30 years.
“In the last five years we’ve seen this dramatic change from demand, in terms of manufac-turing organisations, towards retail, wholesale and e-commerce,” deSouza told Inside FMCG.
The business is now shaping its products, solutions and services to cater to that rapidly increasing demand.
“In Asia, the maturity of supply chain has evolved quite quickly because of the expectation of next day or even next hour delivery,” deSouza said.
Kardex provides scalable solutions, working with companies in various industry segments in the growth phase, to increase order picking efficiency, reduce order picking errors, optimise storage of goods with a smaller footprint and achieve better inventory management.
“What we see now is an increasing demand for digital services where companies have real time connectivity access to their data, enabling them to improve their processes. I think that’s the core demand now in Australia with the complexity of the marketplace, where you have a lot of imported goods, you have major hubs, regional hubs and now, most recently, these micro fulfillment centres.”
For enterprises to stay relevant, de Souza said they must be able to meet demand for next day, or even faster, delivery.
The LR 35 Vertical Buffer Module is the latest product by Kardex and was launched in Australia last year.
“This goods-to-person solution is one of the fastest vertical storage systems on the market, enabling businesses to increase picking performance and reduce costs,” he said.
“The challenges we see now is the diversity of standard and sensitive products, whether it’s FMCG, and therefore sensitive in terms of climate for example, we can provide certain solu-tions such as climate-controlled environment.”
DeSouza expects to see Australian businesses adopt a more harmonised automation solution in the future that can be scaled up to support the increasing demands on business .
“You can no longer assume that a consumer will find the time or have the interest to travel out to a retail park. You have to fulfill that order through an online process. You have to put in a last mile micro fulfillment centre that is convenient for the consumer to travel to.”
“From our point of view, we want to grow the organisation to match what we see as a bright future in Australia.”
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