Future of e-commerce promises to move faster


Purchasing and shipping both move faster than ever in the age of e-commerce. No matter what new benchmark they reach, however, companies are always eager to go faster. According to the Financial Times, Amazon may be preparing to fire the first shots in a new battle between online sellers. The source stated that the online retail giant has begun to move its distribution centers closer to mass markets. Its goal, same-day delivery, could change the face of digital commerce.

Amazon speed increase

The Financial Times stated that Amazon officials have decided to see the bright side of beginning to charge sales tax in several states. For example, now that the website must take taxes from buyers in New Jersey, it is free to discontinue its policy of keeping distribution centers out of the state. The source stated that Amazon previously left states such as Texas when forced to collect taxes at checkout but has abruptly changed course, spending heavily on a new presence in Texas.

"Amazon's business model has changed from being a remote seller without a physical presence in most states to a company that - through distribution centers and delivery lockers and the things it's doing to get close to customers - has a physical presence in lots of places," Overstock president Jonathan Johnson told the source.

The change in tactics from Amazon could reframe retail competition, taking away the ability to have items delivered immediately from the physical retailer toolbox. Any company eager to take on Amazon on delivery speed after its next round of upgrades could need unprecedented supply chain management upgrades, possibly including a large amount of automation.

Speed through automation

The way to operate a high-speed warehouse network could come from outside the general merchandise spectrum. Convenience Store Decisions recently reported on one of the best supply chains from a fresh and perishable goods point of view. Fresh food is a field that has always needed to move quickly, since long before the advent of online sales. The source found the secrets to Wawa's speed and accuracy lie in its warehouse management systems.

Convenience Store Decisions found that Wawa largely boosted its agility by taking the human element out of its operations. The organization's warehouses are tended by fully automated crane arms, which can move goods from 16-foot shelves at high speed and with minimum mistakes.