Qvalon Blog article content
Dark stores, or micro-fulfillment centers, are making waves in the eCommerce and retail industry, but they’re not at all new to the scene.
In fact, their history dates back about ten years. However, they’ve been gaining more recognition since the COVID-19 outbreak.
As we’ve mentioned in the first part of this two-part blog post, these micro-fulfillment centers serve as small warehouses and warerooms where orders are collected for delivery to the customers.
Companies sell their products entirely online, meaning there’s no actual store open to the public—just a physical warehouse for logistics and administration. Therefore, customers have to purchase the products on a website or via a mobile application. They receive their orders through home delivery services, which can sometimes arrive within half an hour.
Now, it’s easy to think that dark stores aren’t as complicated as managing full-scale retail outlets. After all, you don’t have to worry about regular design, service staff, promotions, store layout, and other factors that keep the store operations running smoothly and successfully.
In order to manage dark stores effectively, you have to excel at efficiency—and this comes at a price.
The price of high-speed order delivery
Dark stores offer many benefits to retail and e-commerce businesses, such as easier inventory management, increased efficiency, and happier customers. It’s why Forbes dubbed them the future of retail, but up until this point, managing them remains a bit of a challenge.
Speed is a major issue. As soon as customers start ordering online, they expect a seamless shopping experience. It’s the reason this business model gained momentum and firm footing during the COVID-19 pandemic, gaining popularity and winning back customers from traditional retailers.
Question is, can your dark stores keep up?
Dark stores are growing fast, and they need a tool that can keep up with that growth and help them with the following tasks to ensure customer satisfaction:
This is where relying on retail management software such as QVALON can help. By implementing QVALON, retailers and e-commerce merchants can significantly reduce the time spent managing stores while improving customer satisfaction and ensuring all stores comply with the rules and standards.
Transitioning from a retail store to a dark store model involves installing new systems and transferring existing ones. You need to have quick and efficient processes in place to avoid putting your employees in perpetual haste.
To better understand how QVALON supports dark stores, let’s look at the processes involved in their operations, from the distribution center to the courier service.
The Distribution Center (DC)
The distribution center receives the goods from the suppliers. This is where the operation cycle starts for all dark stores.
Accepting goods from suppliers using the correct algorithm.
Organizing warehouse storage efficiently.
Correct collection of the assortment for each dark store.
Effective delivery processes between the distribution center and the dark stores.
The Dark Store
This store houses the products for an extended period of time. Consequently, there will be more inspections and monitoring to guarantee product quality.
Seamless dark store receiving process.
Effective dark store storage system.
Regular monitoring of the shelf life, freshness of the product, and packaging integrity.
Regular sanitation of commercial equipment.
Smooth order processing.
Transfer of the products to the courier service.
The Courier Service
Here’s the final step where the product gets sent off to the customers. Up to this point, it’s still essential to have an automation system to ensure on-time delivery.
Acceptance of an order from the dark store.
Timely delivery of the order to the customer.
We’ve only touched on the basics of dark store’s operations here. However, these alone already give you a good idea of how streamlined the process should be so you can deliver the products without delay.
QVALON: A Dark Store Solution
There’s a need to stay on top of things with dark stores—and that just can’t be done manually. There’s a lot of moving parts that will need your constant attention, such as monitoring each stage’s efficiency and communicating any identified shortcomings to staff promptly.
As the development of dark stores is moving so quickly, it is imperative to have a digital assistant that can collect information about operations as soon as new dark stores are opened and provide transparent communication and collaboration between your staff.
QVALON has already been a helping hand to more than 80 companies, and we’ve recently helped stabilize growth for different delivery services and dark stores, such as Jiffy, Yandex Lavka, and Samokat to name a few. Our system is capable of supporting dark stores in the following ways:
QVALON monitors the quality of dark stores’ operational activities, identifies outlier processes, and understands their development areas. With smart analytics, you can have a closer look at corporate regulations to see if they are relevant and understandable to the staff.
Maintaining transparency in your organization reduces the chance of human error. You can educate your dark store employees on company standards and processes that relate to their job duties with the help of QVALON.
QVALON evaluates the effectiveness of personnel, management, and even dark store directors based on a rating system. This encourages everyone to work more efficiently and increases your business’ ROI.
A checklist eliminates non-compliance with standards, but you need to make sure your pre-existing checklist fits the bill. QVALON generates clearly defined checklists to guarantee high-quality operational standards.
Auditing is made simpler with QVALON due to digitized checklists. But that’s not all — you can regularly analyze audit results, as well, so you can make prompt management data decisions and strategic improvements based on generated data.
Proper task delegation can boost productivity and eliminate inefficiency. QVALON’s task management feature helps ensure your dark store teams and headquarters work in sync.
With QVALON’s photo reports, monitoring store layouts and shelves has never been easier. This also means you can step in to implement corrective measures straight away.
As you can see, QVALON’s current set of features is proof that it’s not just a software program with electronic checklists. Instead, it’s a full-fledged assistant manager with a comprehensive set of tools for managing processes and personnel.
Through the system, it is now possible to break away from a disparate principle of management and streamline communication between managers and staff through various messengers and programs.
The best part? These tools are all at your fingertips in one mobile device.
With QVALON, you can quickly learn about operational risks at your company and eliminate them on time. This removes the obstacles the fast nature of dark stores poses and gives you an edge over your competitors. Improve customer satisfaction by simplifying all activities related to dark stores. Talk to us today.