May 26, 2020 | Article
#3 – Before going out and buying robots, first have a strategy in place
Ballooning online sales volumes have forced retailers to hire thousands of workers to pick and pack orders in their stores and warehouses. Long term, they know they need faster, more efficient fulfillment methods.
But before they go out and spend millions automating their backrooms and warehouses, they need to first have a strategy in place that incorporates realistic growth projections, store goals, customer data and other factors, said Peter van Stolk, founder and CEO of FoodX, a technology firm that works with retailers like Walmart Canada.
“Automation doesn’t solve the problem,” he told Grocery Dive. “The real problem is the strategy you have for e-commerce. And everyone has got to remember that Amazon, which is moving rapidly into this space, has a strategy.”
Van Stolk said grocers need to think in terms of short-term fixes and long-term profitability. They should do whatever they need to do in the next few months to fulfill order demand and hold onto customers — even if it means losing money. Long term, they need to create a game plan to make e-commerce profitable for that business, and then — if necessary — invest in automation.
“I can guarantee those robots are going to be cheaper to buy next year,” van Stolk said. “What they need to invest in is a strategy, software and a solution that allows them to enable robots when it’s appropriate for the business.”