Dark Store Rising

How Liviri Shuttle helps ecommerce grocers achieve efficiency.

In the grocery world, global ecommerce demand is driving revolutionary change. This has, in turn, led to the rise of the dark store — shops pioneered in the UK and Europe solely dedicated to digital orders.

Despite a name that conjures images of power-grid meltdowns and shuttered windows, dark stores are in fact beacons of light when it comes to scaling up outmoded staging/picking operations into larger, more efficient fulfillment and click-and-collect centers.

Most grocery entities that have added online services during the past decade have made it work with available infrastructures and status quo store inventories. Barely. This short-term fix allowed them to enter the market quickly in order to compete with large retailers such as Amazon, but it hasn’t provided a long-term solution.

According to a report from the Javelin Group, one of Europe’s leading retail consultancies, as sales have grown, “retailers have increasingly found that their [current] stores lack sufficient capacity to support ecommerce order volumes without impacting the offline store operations (aisle congestion, on-shelf availability due to increased replenishment requirements, lack of back of house space, insufficient parking space for home delivery vans).”

These issues become more prevalent, and more complex, when online sales grow from 3% of total sales to 10% of total sales in the next 4 or 5 years.

When digital traffic crosses that threshold, the dark store allows for increased storage capacity, while it also improves product availability because items are no longer picked over by foraging in-store customers. Increased efficiencies within dark store doors are aided by automation and improved picking technology. Even more, dark store operations can help illuminate a path toward transportation efficiencies by helping companies consolidate demand under one roof.

LIVIRI SHUTTLE ILLUMINATES THE PATH

As dark store concepts gain ground, “thermally performant Liviri Shuttle is a great complement to any fully dedicated fulfillment center,” notes Rachel Lee, sr. product line manager at Liviri. “It provides a low-cost insulated solution that interfaces and integrates well within current and developing infrastructures. Shuttle also will keep your groceries chilled for over 12 hours which allows for more efficient delivery routes and unattended deliveries from fulfillment centers.”

Liviri Shuttle containers also stack with existing totes and fit picking carts, bringing together a lightweight build with large cube-size dimensions that holds gallons of milk and lots of groceries. Machine washable containers allow for a more sustainable reuse model. And the ability to add reusable ice packs that can be used on the bottom of the box or vertically as dividers offers flexible pack out options, reduces reliance on refrigeration and gives perishable products an extended lease on life, during product staging as well as during last-mile delivery.

THE RACE FOR COLD-STORAGE SPACE

While grocers weigh the potential benefits of the dark store, there’s an equally pressing matter on the radar: cold warehouse space is in hot demand. To keep up, America needs 100 million square feet of new cold storage warehouse space over the next five years, according to a report by real estate brokerage CBRE.

In steamy states like California, America’s leader in refrigerated warehouse demand, this prime real estate also comes with a hefty price tag.

“The grocery last-mile arms race is going to increase the demand for many more refrigerated warehouses,” Lee continues. “Grocers need cold chain solutions now and can’t wait for all of these warehouses to sprout up. Liviri Shuttle helps them meet the needs of their growing on-line grocery business now in a flexible way while reducing refrigeration costs with a cold-keeping box that not only provides chilled staging but will keep groceries at the right temperature all the way to the customer’s door.”

Liviri Shuttle also helps alleviate overburdened refrigerated space. After picking and sorting is complete, perishable groceries can be held for pickup longer, at room temperature. This eases the strain on refrigerated areas and allows consumers to take advantage of more flexible pickup timing.

In short, Liviri Shuttle is a capable, sustainable tote that’s a great fit for e-grocers scaling up their picking/staging operations to meet online demands. Consumers, on the flipside, benefit from improved selection, better product availability and a premier packaging experience that cuts waste and ensures that food arriving at the door is welcomed inside.