Over the past decade, retailing has undergone massive change.
The explosion in e-commerce - still expanding in the U.S. market by nearly 10 percent1 annually - when combined with the adoption of omni-channel fulfillment strategies has fundamentally changed the distribution landscape.
The days of a DC shipping out full pallets of goods to larger retail stores, where the goods would sit and wait for consumers to do the bulk of their shopping, is no longer the only model.
Internet retailers led by Amazon have grabbed much of the consumer dollar, while retail giants such as Wal-Mart have countered by allowing consumers who buy online to do pick-up at the store.
According to a report from McKinsey Insights, 40 percent of Best Buy’s and more than 50 percent of Wal-Mart’s online sales are already picked up in stores.
In fact, more DC operations are supporting these omni-channel processes. According to a recent survey by Peerless Research Group of professionals involved in warehousing and distribution, 75 percent of respondents said that they were currently supporting more than one selling channel.
Few observers would dispute the impact of these e-commerce and omni-channel trends. The real issue is how to best adapt to them.
While companies have invested in new types of order management systems, warehouse automation, and item picking solutions to adapt to the changes, one area that tends to be overlooked is the electric forklifts, pallet trucks, and other equipment for moving and loading/unloading goods.
In many cases, companies are trying to cope with the new challenges using the same types of lift trucks, pallet trucks, tuggers and other equipment which have been used in warehouses for decades, notes Bill Pedriana, director of sales and marketing with Big Lift LLC, the maker of Big Joe Forklifts.