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The first day of the virtual conference DeliveryX LIVE looked to highlight the importance of what happens before the buy button, in the ecommerce warehouse and how UK retailers can look further afield.

Alan Jackson, VP solution engineering & presales at Fluent Commerce, kicked off the discussions with a session dedicated to Order Management Systems (OMS). He explained that retailers often struggle to gather their inventory into a single view at scale.

“The inventory numbers that we see are really high. Being able to process that quickly and accurately, as well as being able to present that into a view that’s is in a centralised place, is always a big challenge,” he noted.

Retailers also need to “dynamically” ensure they are not overselling or underselling. “If you’re not tapping into the range and availability as much as you could be then that starts to impact downstream – cancellation rates, customer satisfaction and return rates,” warned Jackson.

When asked why an existing ERP solution or ecommerce platform couldn’t be used to deal with these issues, he responded: “I can see why organisations went down that path.

“In a simpler world of a single warehouse or not really aggressive online commerce strategies, which would’ve been a historical view – it was a simpler model. But as you start to add complex business models – adding more brands, moving into new regions, diversifying where your stock comes from, including suppliers, opening up store networks in new countries – all of these situations mean that the technology is not really fit for purpose.

“This new bred of distributor order management concept requires the system to be super flexible and it is able to really close this gap.”

Fluent Commerce’s session was followed by a look first DeliveryX sector report which covers the UK warehousing sector and its impact on ecommerce operations. Download the full DeliveryX Warehousing 2023 report here.

The session touched on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and warehouse automation but it was the 1pm presentation that really delved into the subject. Martin Donohoe, regional marketing manager, UK & Ireland, and Kane Edwards, UK business development manager of Locus Robotics, used a selection of videos (including the one below) to showcase their Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs).

While Locus Robotics talked viewers through the benefits of their range of robotic warehouse solutions, Donohoe was keen to highlight the importance of collaboration between technology and human warehouse workers: “One of the things that we see is all of the bots end up getting names. When we visit one of our customers you’ll see ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Boty-MacBot-Face’. People seem to enjoy working with the bots.”

Edwards concluded Locus’ session by saying what an exciting area automation and robotics is to work in, one that is “constantly seeing new developments” and hinted at impressive things to come.

To finish the first day of DeliveryX LIVE, Andrew Turner, chief sales officer, of day one sponsor Fulfilmentcrowd, also looked at opportunities. He took the audience through maximising ecommerce growth from the UK to the EU.

When asked about the challenges of Brexit for any retailer looking to expand from the UK into Europe, Turner joked that this was a “negative question” when there were some real “positive positions” now.

“A massive opportunity exists for UK brands to sell their products into Europe, via their own website or via marketplaces like Amazon, bool.com in the Netherlands, or Cdiscount in France. There’s definitely a great opportunity, and the way to unlock it is to locate inventory inside the EU and sell from that location.

“That proximity to the consumer will give you a better customer experience all around. You get faster delivery speed, you get lower shipping costs and customers start to learn about your product in their country and will start to place orders with you.”

He did warn that there may be “some organisational matters” to deal with such as registration and ensuring that the inbound flow of stock is redirected into that new warehouse. But through the right partnerships retailers can “give a better service proposition”.

All of the session from day one of DeliveryX LIVE will be available to watch on demand in the coming days. The conference continues on Wednesday 21 June with a home delivery focus.