While micro-fulfillment is mainly used to describe solutions in existing retail stores, there are other related fulfillment strategies that are also worth considering.
Micro-fulfillment centers are created inside existing retail space to help quickly and efficiently fill both online and in-store orders that are either picked up in-store, curbside or delivered to the customer. Caveats to the in-store micro-fulfillment strategy include taking up valuable space inside already constrained retail stores, and the cost of installing micro-fulfillment centers in multiple retail locations.
Empty storefronts are used as small fulfillment centers that fill online orders and can even service local retail locations. These "dark stores" are not open to the public. Orders filled can be picked up curbside, dropped off at retail locations for pick up, or delivered directly to customers. One dark store could potentially service several existing retail locations, which greatly reduces the space and cost issues involved with in-store micro-fulfillment. These dark stores can be formatted utilizing lower cost, semi-automation, such as Automated Mobile Robots and automated sortation technologies to aid manual picking efforts, or be fitted for high-automation goods-to-person systems.
Metro Ecommerce Centers
Small fulfillment centers or metro ecommerce centers (MECs) are created in dense urban or metropolitan areas to serve local ecommerce customers. Orders are delivered or shipped to customers directly from the MECs.