Author: Stephen Zarick, President, VO Sales Group 

Trending: Automation and Retail Store Closures 

Retail Store Closures are on the rise.  

Just google Retail Store Closures 2019 or 2020. 

So many brand names that we know. Why so many? What is happening to the mall scene? Why are Apple Stores doing so well? What is going on with the retail Customer experience? It’s all the rage at the NRF trade show. These are questions for another day. The fact is stores are closing in record numbers. Wouldn’t one assume with this shift, really in consumer behavior, that there are opportunities somewhere else? 

Of course there is. And it’s in Retail Supply Chain. It is in the Direct to Consumer business. It is also in the bigger more powerful more influential retailers such as Costco, and then of course the online presence of everyone, even those with store closures. 

Consequentially, Automation, Factory and Distribution Automation, is the resulting lively space.   

Whether Robotics, Packaging, Self Guided Vehicles, and more. 

We used to go to the Supply Chain show and avoid all the “steel”. 

Now we go the Supply Chain and Automation shows and it seems like overnight the “steel” all became smart, intelligent, software driven and even uses AI. 

Conveyors, Fork Lifts, Primary and Secondary Packaging, Fulfillment Systems, AS/RS and other Picking Systems are all part of the accelerated automation space.  

Retail Supply Chain is driving all of this. The eCommerce companies are driving this. Direct to Consumer phenom is driving this. The more and more we consumers buy online and have the product shipped directly to the store or to each us the supply chains are being stressed. 

To alleviate this stress without giving in to more and more competitors, the current vendors of product must accelerate output. Whether they are selling to Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger as retailers or they are selling directly to us the consumer they are having to make many changes in their factories and DCs to meet the demand.   

Speaking of demand, the consumer used to be fine with 5-10 days to receive product to their home. Now, many times, companies like Amazon are offering same day delivery and then the customer tracks the package in real time on their phone all day long. This real time information is, too, stressing supply chains.   

So does Automation eliminate jobs? Well, of course it eliminates some jobs, but companies like Amazon still hire 1000’s of employees. We are a long way away from Robotics taking over the Supply Chain space. Automation lends to consistency, optimization, accuracy, acceleration for mundane tasks. Automation is also being used in situations where safety is an issue. Employees are asked to do other tasks that require training and a skill set that a machine is not yet capable of performing, such as decision-making where there is no right or wrong answer. 

Automation is on display at trade trade shows such as MODEX, Automate, ProMat and more that you can find on this link:

 Author: Stephen Zarick, President, VO Sales Group