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Omnichannel Grocery: How YMS and Dock Scheduling can Help


In Part 1 of our Food & Grocery Series, we discussed the current climate of omnichannel grocery. At the end of the day, whichever of the options we brought to light is used for fulfilling online orders, the requirements are the same: speed, accuracy, and seamless communication.

So... How can Dock Scheduling and Yard Management Solutions Help?

You've got the facility set up, customer-facing online ordering is organized, fulfillment methodology established. But you're still running into bottlenecks. What is going on? Stock is stuck in the yard, but staff is standing around waiting for trailers to unload. Phone lines are burning up as departments try to talk to each other, and everybody is drowning in drifts of paperwork. And, as a result, orders are not getting filled.

Here's where we can help. Before you take the plunge, consider for a moment the little details that can make or break your omnichannel fulfillment:

  • Does your strategy account for the flow of inbound trucks and trailers to your facility?
  • Does it take into account the number of trailers that need to be managed on a day-to-day basis?
  • Do you have paperless operations established?
  • Do you have advance notice that trucks are inbound?

A C3 Solutions cloud-based dock scheduling and yard management system can help you eliminate these costly backlogs. Automatically schedule appointments at the dock door for inbound trailers so they aren't left waiting. Improve your advance notice so you can better plan inventory flow. Eliminate the paper trail by making documents electronic.

Managing trailers in the yard with a best-of-breed YMS means you'll know exactly what's where and your yard staff will be able to find and move trailers to the docks without wasting precious time. Likewise, your inside workers will not be left to loiter while the yard staff play hide and seek with hundreds or thousands of trailers.


Managing the Last Mile

Once the orders are picked, there's a new challenge – getting them into the customers' hands. The last mile is one of the most significant hurdles left in e-commerce, and it's especially tricky for grocery because of the mix of perishables and dry goods being shipped. Orders have to be handled quickly, and cannot usually be dropped at a customer's door if there's nobody at home. This is why click-and-collect is so popular with retailers and customers alike.

But home delivery cannot be ignored. And if grocers are going to offer it, they need to be able to provide end-to-end visibility into the process because that's what consumers say they want. [1] It only makes sense to want assurance that your dairy has stayed cold, your eggs haven't been smashed or your bananas turned black because of a problem somewhere along the delivery chain.

There are technical solutions for tracking orders from the fulfillment center to the door, including blockchain (more on this in a later article), and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that record temperature, shock, humidity, and light. [2] Using local micro-fulfillment centers is another option that helps maintain control of the quality of products during delivery – shortening the distance traveled increases the likelihood of maintaining quality.

How solutions like ours can help...

One of the best ways to ensure quality and timely delivery is to make the back-end operation as efficient as possible. You take the pressure off the last-mile process by ensuring that the products going into each order have been in the fulfillment center for the minimum possible time. The shorter the stay in the FC, the fresher the produce, milk, meat and other items will be.

1. Build that efficiency into your operation by using yard management to get trailers to the docks as needed in a timely fashion. Use it to ensure empties are ready for the outbound deliveries when orders are ready to go.

2. Create time by automating dock scheduling to process inbound trailers in the smoothest way possible. Increase the productivity of the assets you have – human and infrastructure – by employing paperless, instant communication that creates real-time visibility into all the inbound and outbound activities under your management.

Making Omnichannel Grocery a Sweet Success

If you are going to make the investment in facilities and systems to make omnichannel grocery retail your business model, then it will pay in reduced costs, shorter ROI and better customer satisfaction to also ensure you've also got the right systems to make it all work smoothly. Powerful and flexible dock scheduling and yard management systems can provide you with the edge that will power your e-commerce to be best-in-class.

c3solutions_article1_artworks-01The food e-commerce marketplace is a blur of motion right now. Not only are sales booming as more and more consumers opt to buy their groceries online, but the technologies and options for rising to the challenge are constantly evolving. Many retailers are struggling to keep up as they adapt their operations to the new landscape. But even as they go through these tremendously disruptive changes it is possible to take advantage of technology that makes operations run smoother. Opting to employ solutions like our dock scheduling and yard management systems really can make the difference between success and a costly mistake.  

Let's indulge in a little food analogy as the dessert to this piece: Think of C3 as the icing on the omnichannel e-commerce cake. How you build your e-commerce infrastructure – multiple FCs, in-store fulfillment, or omnichannel DC – is the layers of the cake. They are the foundation of the enterprise.

To top it off we provide the substance that makes it all hold together seamlessly. C3 solutions systems – like the frosting – smooth out the rough edges, render it seamless and make the whole process that much sweeter for the retailer and the customer.




[1] "Solving for the grocery last mile is harder than you think", Kate Patrick, Supply Chain Dive, April 26, 2018.

[2] "Solving for the grocery last mile is harder than you think", Kate Patrick, Supply Chain Dive, April 26, 2018.