Making Magic With Mall Based Microfulfillment and Logistics Services

Next to the airline industry, retail businesses, especially those operating within enclosed shopping Malls, have been very hard hit by the Corona Virus Pandemic.

As with all evolutionary paths, this facing of adversity also often results in the creation of innovative new methods and approaches driven by the sheer will for survival and adaptation.

Recently we’ve seen articles on some potential new uses for Shopping Malls for combined residential and even school uses, and the conversion/addition of microfulfillment centers from/into Malls was already a “thing” even before Covid19 hit. Here’s the most recent example of Amazon converting malls / mall properties into new Logistics Centers to shorten the last mile and get even closer to customers. 

Way back in April of 2014, I posted an article here on LinkedIn entitled “Successful Shopping Environments of the Future Will Be Logistics Friendly!” proposing correction of these improved logistical needs for both efficiency and sustainability reasons. Fast forward to 2021 and frankly folks the future is now here, and the time to act and start examining how best to extend your supply chain into local mall locations is upon us.

As the title says, there’s truly magic possible for those who take the time to investigate and then start to embrace mall based logistics and microfulfillment options to complete your hub and spoke supply chain. Most importantly these types of projects need not be a big bang or systems rip and replace exercise, but rather can be advanced and proven through pilot projects and then expanded based on success.

Even without the rebuilding, redeveloping or redesigning of malls to be more logistics friendly there are already options for improving many of the logistical aspects of malls and interesting companies like Fillogic, one of Etail Solutions fulfillment partners, are already innovating here with multiple locations now up and running and more coming on stream.

Mall based logistics providers like Fillogic can already serve retailers and brands to radically improve many important functions within the growing number of Mall environments that they serve.

Think of all the different carriers which must separately come into Malls to make deliveries, one by one. The same applies for outbound shipments, where an internal Mall logistics provider can consolidate both inbound and outbound shipments to make the entire process, safer, more efficient, less costly and even more sustainable.

Additionally, store associates are truly meant to be serving customers in stores, not acting as ecommerce picking, packing and shipping robots which raw services can be provided by a Mall based logistics provider’s people who’re skilled and trained at such roles.

As well, at this time of year, returns are always a headache for both stores and shoppers, where streamlined technology driven returns processes, again supported by a Mall based logistics provider, could drive both efficiency and convenience.

And although all of the above can result in significant benefits and improvements for all involved, in my mind these types of services are only scratching the surface!

Store to store transfers to meet consumer demands are typically a slow, costly and inefficient processes that often result in more frustration to consumers based on lost products or just the time it takes through traditional store shuttle delivery methods.

Retailers or even Pure Play Ecommerce brands working with Mall based logistics providers could jointly unlock several interesting service models.

Think of Mall based microfulfillment more as a forward pick location where system driven product is deployed remotely based on combined demand for both store stock and local ecommerce delivery requirements. Additionally, positioning stock this close to the storefront means in-store stock levels could be reduced and individual store stockrooms virtually eliminated with a one or two to show, and one to go approach.

Not only does this reduce investment in inventory, overall space could also be reduced, or assortments expanded, with stockroom space either eliminated or better utilized as additional selling space. And for Pure Play ecommerce players looking to expand their bricks and mortar presence, more flexible seasonal or permanent kiosk or shared spaces in Malls could be utilized with the rapid product support of a mall based logistics provider.

Additional synergies could also be unlocked where brands who service multiple retailers in a given mall could pool the demand across all of these customers for maximum aggregated inventory efficiency and rapid buffer replenishment on a just-in-time basis.

Last but not least, complex Digital Commerce and Distributed Logistics DOM platforms, that connect the disparate players, products and systems involved across supply chains, are required to light up and make the most of mall based logistics and microfulfillment opportunities, reach out today and then start to see all the magic that can rapidly become possible!

To view this entire article from Jeff Ashcroft on LinkedIn, click here.

Jeff has over 30 years of large scale, complex, consultative and direct logistics and supply chain systems experience from warehouse floor to boardrooms of major retail, brand, third party logistics, consulting and IT organizations. Solid base of capabilities and practical approach to helping people and organizations develop AND implement solutions that work. Passionate about improving digital commerce and the ability of distributed logistics to drive improved supply chain sustainability with LOWER costs AND better customer experience.