Fulfilling Online Orders at Micro-Fulfillment Centers

How the right fulfillment orchestration platform is a food retailer’s path to eCommerce profitability.

Micro-Fulfillment Center Definition: Warehouses Equipped to Fulfill Online Orders QuicklySN4

What are Micro-Fulfillment Centers (MFC)?

MFCs are warehouses that are well equipped to fulfill online orders, quickly, taking the fulfillment process out of store hands and reducing labor costs usually associated with fulfillment. Though the MFC concept has been around for several years, it seemed to pick up steam during the COVID pandemic to meet the growing demand created from online orders. Food retailers who manage a significant number of online orders look to MFC locations to enhance the shopping experience by improving fulfillment speed and allowing traditional stores to focus on in-store customers. These mini distribution centers can be found as standalone warehouses or in the back of a grocery store away from the sales floor where grocery associates efficiently pick online orders without disrupting in-store operations, providing grocery shoppers with omnichannel solutions they have come to expect.

One such example of improving eCommerce order efficiency and profitability can be found in a recent article from Supermarket News about the first MFC for Midwest food distributor and grocery store retailer, SpartanNash. According to the article, this new MFC will improve fulfillment speed and product availability, doubling the current order volume for the grocer.

Managing Online Fulfillment at Scale

One critical component to success for a Micro-Fulfillment Center is automation. Retailers need scalable tools to manage orders across the enterprise to meet demand and customer expectations.

ADC’s fulfillment orchestration platform, ShopperKit, was built for managing fulfillment at scale, allowing retailers to pick as much as possible as quickly as possible with as few people as possible.

Micro-Fulfillment Center Definition Graphic

With ShopperKit, grocery associates can fill online orders by following a designated picking path, and even communicate directly with customers via conversational commerce- aka text message. Through these texts, the grocery employee can ask personal preference questions like how green a customer likes their bananas or make sure they don’t lose out on a sale if something is out of stock with substitution suggestions. They can even upsell customers to increase basket size, something that often is missed in online shopping compared to in-store. If they order a pound of turkey from the deli, the store employee can recommend the provolone cheese that is on special to make the perfect pairing.

This eCommerce fulfillment platform offers hub & spoke functionality that allows retailers to fulfill partial or full orders from a dedicated MFC (the hub) and then send completed orders out for delivery or deliver them to a store location (the spoke) where they can be topped off or readied by a store associate for pickup.

ShopperKit works for any fulfillment format from in-store fulfillment to micro-fulfillment centers. The platform optimizes pick paths, zone picking, multi-order picking, auto-assigned batch picking, and bulk collect picking. Ultimately allowing retailers to reduce eCommerce fulfillment costs and increasing sales.

With ShopperKit, retailers can effectively enable online order fulfillment at scale. Read more about how a software-based fulfillment platform for online grocery orders impacts profitability.