The Success of any Online Business Begins and Ends with Customer Perception.

Automation is Unlocking Customisation.

What’s the main difference between high street shopping and online ordering? Well, when you shop on the high street you make your choices based on product availability, whereas with online ordering there are a multitude of businesses promising a range of goodies that can be personalised and delivered to your door, all within the click of a mouse. Some companies will be visible on the high street and others will be lesser known businesses trying to carve a living by offering unique purchasing experiences.

In truth online retail is shaped by offers of customised goods, but to achieve this there has to be an understanding of the manufacturing technology that is at play to make this a success. Some companies will gain greater flexibility when they invest in machinery that can aid production, packaging and the supply chain. So, a good quality investment needs to be reliable and offer multiple functions to make the process from order to delivery, a fast and efficient process.

Many large companies that are not proficient in e-commerce will discover in time that their machines are not equipped to deal with the customised demands of the online market, but there is hope. Many manufacturers are starting to adapt their technology to smaller formats and sizes but this requires maneuverability within warehouse, supply chains and packaging lines. A seamless process must be adopted, like that of the ‘Amazon effect’, with transparent purchasing at each step of the buying process.

Everything from machinery, to the technology used and even the digital labeling of products, must be able to match production flow .The holistic approach of Omnichannel retailing has resulted in companies exploring digitalisation as a way of linking all of these aspects together. The introduction of automated robots, automated vehicles and collaborative robots has become more commonplace in warehouses and packaging plants; the aim being to package multiple products, with speed, for one customer.

Automation and robots combined could result in one controller and one engineering system, which in turn would have fewer hardware connections, fewer breakdowns and a lower carbon footprint. At the 2019 PACKEXPO, held in Las Vegas, a prime example of just this type of machinery was exhibited by JLS Automation. Something so sophisticated in it’s design that it was capable of handling multiple formats and product codes with a lower than normal carbon footprint. The Peregrine as it was known, was an effective high-speed cartoner but with the additional flexibility to run multiple skus at the same time.

Digital Labelling Systems
These adaptive machines are revolutionising the way omnichannel and multi-channel businesses work. In the labelling industry there are specialist pieces of equipment capable of adding labels front and back to items varying in sizes and shapes. As labels chart the journey of any product, the speed at which they can be applied is valuable to any manufacturer. Labels will pass through varying checkpoints throughout their travels, so it becomes important to record the data to ensure goods have been delivered in one piece.

In fact we need technology capable of recording high quality data in a variety of places, such as warehouses and manufacturing. Companies like Amazon and Brother have begun to set the standard for automation. Amazon’s seamless deliveries have become the gold standard for other businesses. If it moves, it needs a label….Whilst Brother, has devised a thermal printing series that barcodes, labels and tags goods for warehouse and logistics, that have the capability to integrate with warehouse management systems and apps on mobile devices.

In the words of Terry Goodkind: ‘Reality is irrelevant, perception is everything’ and the success of any e-commerce  business begins and ends with customer perception. Your products will be poked and prodded by vloggers, bloggers and social media influencers. What they report will be largely dependent on the level of personalised experience they receive. Everything must appear smooth, with no knowledge of how or what has been used to create the all important illusion.Customisation must be a highly organised affair.

A fine example of one such ERP software for the manufacturing industry is QAD. Built into their software is a product configurator that can be used as part of the online shop front. This is capable of building knowledge of what is being requested, so the changes in manufacturing can be re-routed. A configurator will provide the relevant information to make modifications to a product, which in turn drives the manufacturing process. It also has the intelligence to predict seasonal patterns and low inventory levels through built in learning.

So, if the technology exists to add names to bottles of soft drinks, then it really would appear that the e-commerce market has once again topped the high street. The markets are changing and at a time when we are reliant, worldwide, on online purchases, perhaps some of the high street manufacturers should begin to consider whether their current manufacturing machinery is up to the job. New innovations are being developed all the time and with it comes a tide of technology capable of bringing with it new ideas and methods. Your business may be in need of product evolution, your current technology may be outdated or perhaps you’re keen to maximise on the online revolution, either way allpack® can assist you. We have a range of automated software that can be integrated partially or completely with your existing systems and a wealth of packaging know-how spanning twenty five years. Book a free no-obligation consultation today.

Source: Meeting E-commerce Expectations with Automation: 28 Jan 2020, Stephanie Neil.