Grocery retailers are taking a closer look at their order fulfillment strategies in the face of a growing consumer appetite for online grocery shopping, a situation that is piquing their interest in automated fulfillment solutions, robotics, and small-scale distribution centers designed to get products closer to customers. But rather than jump full-force into highly advanced systems, industry watchers say, more and more grocery retailers are taking a measured approach to meeting changing consumer needs in this new environment, carefully considering their goals as they seek to improve—and in some cases, develop—their e-commerce strategies.
"Amazon is driving the response time and has really raised the bar [on customer expectations]," says Dean Starovasnik, director of consulting sales for systems integrator Bastian Solutions. "It's really created an energy and buzz around all this."
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