New Retail Technology Lights the Way for the Rise of Dark Stores
By Andrey Podgornov
The growth of e-commerce combined with the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a permanent shift in consumer shopping behavior, leading to a rapid increase in online shopping that is unlikely to reverse. As a result, a new player has emerged, particularly in grocery shopping and traditional retail: dark stores.
Dark stores are springing up everywhere to meet the new consumer needs. This flexible business model caters to customers who prefer to shop from the comfort of their homes.
It Poses a Challenge for Retailers
With some dark stores promising to deliver goods in as quick as 10 minutes, retailers have to figure out how to make this channel profitable and prevent losses that can stem from poorly designed business operations.
Dark stores need to operate efficiently to meet the demand for fast delivery and real-time inventory. Leaning on traditional retail operations, these new “storefronts” face some key challenges in running smoothly.
Fortunately, new innovations in technology are lighting the way for these models to thrive. Using new mobile-based retail management solutions, hyper-local delivery companies, and quick commerce, retailers can survive another COVID winter and the busy holiday season.
Easy Task Management
Dark stores don't serve customers inside the warehouse, but plenty of work still needs to be done on the floor. Management can simplify task allocation and monitoring through a cloud-based solution. Using an app, supervisors can input important tasks and assign them to the right person. The employee can then notify management once the job is completed through the same platform, or leave comments and clarifications if necessary.
Unlike traditional retail or e-commerce, dark store operations don't simply involve a store or a warehouse. So aside from pickers going around the floor preparing orders, expect to have employees on the road for curbside pick-up and home delivery. A one-stop mobile-based solution with video call functionality removes the hassle of looking for a phone number—especially in an emergency. Just open the app and scroll down to find the name of the person you need to contact.
Outstanding Operations Optimization
Since new retail tech runs on the cloud, the central office can track dark store operations and spot problematic areas. Through auditing and smart analytics, retailers can identify specific challenges and issues they are seeing at each location, adopt newer and better processes, and ensure employees clearly understand them.
Maintaining store layouts and shelves has never been easier with photo reports. Management can keep an eye on operations remotely while also giving the power to implement corrective actions in real-time. This means fewer problems on the floor and smoother operations.
Efficient Performance Standardization
Dark store operations involve several repetitive tasks, including inventory control and floor maintenance. Using digital checklists for the employees who handle them can eliminate non-compliance and ensure a consistent process while removing the inconvenience and expense associated with paper checklists. If they don’t have them already, COVID-19 checklists are necessary at this point to ensure the safety of customers and employees.
Retail Management Solution Designed for Dark Stores
Retailers are leveraging dark stores to boost profits in these challenging times. But the biggest concern is delivering a fantastic online fulfillment service. Improving operations is the key, and this is possible with the help of a mobile-based retail management solution.
QVALON is a SaaS solution for retail companies that provides checklist automation and tracks store issues and tasks on mobile devices. The company has been on the market for 5-plus years and was founded with a mission to help retailers modernize their operations to thrive in the 21st-century economy. Podgornov has more than 15 years of experience in B2B enterprise consulting, with previous roles at Accenture, SAP, and T-Systems, as well as founding multiple award-winning IT start-ups across sectors. He has specific expertise in business development, customer interaction, and the development of IT and finance architectures on local and global markets.