With the worldwide growth of e-commerce, consumers have become more demanding when it comes to deliveries. The modern consumer seeks fast, flexible and seamless deliveries for a relatively low price. To meet the increased consumer expectations, more and more retailers are opening a dark store in cities. A dark store is a miniature warehouse-adjacent space that caters exclusively for online shopping, which is meant for storage, sorting and handling online orders.
In our previous blog, we talked about the benefits of opening a dark store as a retailer. This showed that a dark store can provide improved shipping costs and speed, reduced costs, flexibility, efficient use of retail space, improved inventory, better warehouse efficiency and sustainability. Now that the benefits are clear, how do retailers ensure that they get their dark store strategy right? In this blog we explain the factors to consider for a successful dark store strategy.
When opening a dark store, the factors below must be taken into account.
Before opening a dark store, retailers must check whether they have adequate demand. It is important to start with existing demand, instead of starting with the hope that demand will come. Retailers should make sure that they already have online order demand in the trade area before opening the dark store.
In addition, it`s important to think about the location of the dark store. In order to be able to deliver products to the consumer quickly, it is first of all important that the dark store is located in close geographic proximity to the consumers’ homes. This means that the ideal location for a dark store is a densely populated area. In addition, a d ark store is not open to shoppers. As a result, a dark store does not have to be located in an expensive prime location. A substandard industrial location that at first sight is not aesthetically pleasing, is also sufficient. Finally, the location of the dark store must be spacious enough to accommodate the large quantities of products.
When deploying a dark store, it is necessary to have efficient order management, for example through an order management system and auto-replenishment system. An order management system helps in routing the request of a right dark store and quickly pick and ship orders. In addition, it sends real-time updates on the status of the ordered products and real-time stock updates to the website, which prevents the sale of out-of-stock products. Moreover, an auto-replenishment system re-orders stock to meet forecasts sales needs.
Finally, it is important to work out which employee will be the best fit for each task in de dark store and to educate the staff accordingly. Make sure your employees know and understand well how the process and systems work, long before implementing them. The simpler and more logical the new systems are for your staff, the better the results.