Pyrops WMS

Dark Stores: The Future of Retail

Dark Stores: The Future of Retail Warehouse Management System

Customers today seek immediate satisfaction when shopping, which is why a significant number prefer the in-person retail experience. The ability to locate desired items, complete a purchase, and leave with the product in hand is a major draw. However, the challenges posed by the pandemic have hindered the seamless provision of this type of shopping encounter. Consequently, numerous physical retailers, both small and large, have embraced a strategy known as “dark stores.” These establishments utilize their retail spaces to serve as warehouse management systems where a substantial inventory is stored and orders are fulfilled. To enhance customer options, they leverage ecommerce warehouse management systems and warehousing management software, enabling features such as swift delivery and same-day pickup.

Dark stores play a pivotal role in streamlining the handling of online orders within physical distribution centers, whether or not these centers are accessible to customers. Nonetheless, they notably elevate different facets of the retail experience, offering optimal convenience through efficient delivery and pickup options, along with an extensive product selection, all facilitated by the best software for warehouse management systems.

What are Dark Stores?

Traditional retail stores that have been transformed into local fulfillment centers are known as dark store models. Grocery stores, clothing labels, and home goods retailers are among them. Their layouts are designed and optimized for retail fulfillment of online orders. Picking and packing of all the ordered items take place in the dark warehouse. The customer either ship or pick up the orders. This approach provides retailers with versatile options catering to both local and external customers, facilitated by an efficient retail warehouse management system.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a major influence on the retail industry. To allow customers to purchase from a brick-and-mortar retail store without visiting a store, businesses are turning to dark stores as a future of stores.They provide the space in the dark warehouse needed to fulfill orders for shipping or prepare them for pickup without requiring customers to enter a crowded store.

Why Are Dark Stores Becoming More Popular in the FMCG Industry?

The FMCG industry faces a lot of unique concerns such as perishability and the need for a large number of SKUs. Managing SKUs and tracking perishability in a traditional store can be a time-consuming task. Dark stores meaning, on the other hand, focus primarily on click-and-collect functionality. They prioritize ecommerce warehouse management and employ FMCG warehouse management systems, enabling more efficient control over SKUs and addressing the unique concerns of perishable goods.

Dark stores are extremely efficient because they do not require a specific location or design for the shopping experience. They don’t need any space to display in-store advertisements. Furthermore, the dark store model can serve multiple online retailers at the same time. Dark grocery stores keep a large volume of goods in a smaller space. It facilitates easy picking and packing. Fulfillment of orders occurs in dark warehouses. It allows merchants to make the most of available space for easy picking. Instead of the customers, store pickers now walk the aisles to find the products required in the customer order.

Benefits of using Dark Stores

The benefits of utilizing dark stores extend beyond a mere trend, emphasizing the advantages of employing warehouse management systems. These  include the ability to serve local customers. And also to expand the customer reach at a lower cost. Here are a few reasons why the benefits of warehouse management systems make dark warehouses a lasting and impactful strategy.

Stocking Space

Customers are not permitted inside functional dark stores. So, their layout can be designed to improve storage and picking capabilities. Improving storage capacity ensures a wider product assortment. Faster picking ensures that orders are filled more quickly without sacrificing order accuracy.

Stock Levels

Dark store models are significantly smaller than typical warehouses. So, it is much easier to keep track of inventory levels. Many dark stores also have Warehouse Management Software. It allows them to keep track of stock levels in real-time. This software also assists retailers in determining if they have too much inventory (known as “deadstock”) or not enough. This can result in stockouts. You can ensure that you always have an ideal level of inventory by streamlining the inventory control process.

Order efficiency

Dark stores can handle a big volume of orders because they are customer-free zones. So, pickers can also easily walk aisles without having to dodge shoppers and their trolleys. The activity is significantly faster than an end customer doing the same because the pickers are working on confirmed orders. And, they are more familiar with the layout. Dark store warehouse efficiency can be increased by automating fulfilment activities with the right technology, such as Warehouse Management Software (WMS).

Order consumption

Consumers are more likely to become long-term, loyal customers after they become familiarised with your brand’s speedy, trustworthy, and accurate delivery of items. Dark stores can easily provide customers with more delivery options. This results in increased sales and customer lifetime value.

Dark Store Order Fulfillment Models

For all types of retailers, dark store fulfilment is a strategic and productive alternative. However, to be fully sustainable, it should offer a variety of delivery and pickup options.  Below are the three most typical delivery options for dark businesses.

1. Home delivery

Home delivery has become more common, particularly among local shops. Customers will benefit from fast, convenient, and frictionless delivery, especially when it comes to essentials. However, home deliveries can also be made by starting an online store and shipping orders to clients who are located further away.

2. In-store pickup

Many classic dark businesses have a designated pick-up space located near the front entrance. Customers won’t have to walk through the dark store to get their product this way. This provides flexibility and reduces delivery costs.

3. Curbside pickup

Customers can quickly pick up orders with curbside pickup. It typically consists of designated parking areas where a retailer staff will bring out the order. So the customer does not have to get out of their vehicle. This not only provides customers with safety during the pandemic, but it is also very convenient.

Is Dark Store A Type of Warehouse Management System?

Dark stores will be the new way to conduct business. But it will not be without difficulties and adjustments. Dark stores, especially in FMCG industries, may cause supply chain disruptions and require additional infrastructure. Extending the current delivery and pick-up options is insufficient. To be truly effective, stores must plan their entire dark store strategy and automate wherever possible. They can improve the consumer experience and provide easier access to essential items. It also paves the path for the future of retail.

Future Of Stores: Dark Store Model

Automation and analytics will be essential for dark stores to meet the growing demand for 24/7, near-immediate delivery. This will lead to many variations on the dark store model, such as fully roboticized fulfillment depots and smart supermarkets.

All of these approaches require a broad selection of goods from a far-flung network of suppliers. Dark warehouse retailers must have complete visibility into all of their inventory at all of their locations. This requires warehouse management software solutions to manage and maintain these inventories.

How Can Pyrops WMS help?

Pyrops WMS provides a solution for multiple requirements associated with dark store operations. Some of them are real-time view of stock levels, picker route optimization, lot control, cycle counting. It also provides solutions to replenishments, EAN mapping, return management, pilferage management, SLA based order processing and many more.