Dark stores in the correct sense of the word are fulfilment centres that cater to areas with massive demand. Their existence is critical to online retailers in large geographic areas with high population density. According to a recent Deloitte report, dark stores are going to be a critical component in the supply chain going forward for most of the upcoming and established e-commerce brands. If you are looking forward to set up a dark store or understand “what is a dark store?”, then we recommend reading this page till the end. The concept of a dark store business model is a D2C (direct-to-consumer) that provides same-day last-mile (i.e. door-step) delivery or the avenue for online consumers to order and pick-up from a predefined location. Given the rapid growth of the e-commerce model, the customer today is more demanding and wants orders to be fulfilled in quick time and dark stores are going to play an integral role in reducing the time in fulfilling orders. Given the option of “click-and-pick-up”, e-commerce brands are discovering that such improved efficiency in services is helping to reduce cart abandonment that has a direct impact on increasing revenues. How YRC can help a Business in Setting Up a Dark Store? The concept of a dark store business model is not new and has been in existence for quite some time now. But today e-commerce brands have become keen on setting up a dark store given the improvement in efficiencies and value it delivers to the customer. This brings us to the fundamental question of how to set up a dark store? YRC’s team of dark store online consultants are well-versed with all the facets of setting up a dark store. From carrying out market research and developing dark store business model to operational planning, YRC’s dark store online consulting services are aimed at building a robust business. Process Manuals or Standard Operating Procedures SOPs or Process manuals can be critical in enhancing the product proposition for an e-commerce brand. Right from the nature and size of product assortments, SOPs can play a pivotal role in impacting dark store site design, it can even decide the implementation of on-site bakeries, grocery stores, meat stores, and food counters. Since the functioning of a dark store is labour-intensive, SOPs can be involved in making the entire operation system-driven. They can even be implemented for training, assessing job performance, and implementing guidelines for operating expensive equipment like slicing machines, ovens, and so on. Moreover, the correct implementation of SOPs helps in the phasing of product assortment that mitigates high levels of wastage associated with perishable goods. Inventory Replenishment Planning While dark stores may be a boon for e-commerce & retail brands, inventory management remains a critical challenge that needs to be addressed when it comes to setting up a dark store, especially in case of perishable goods. Given the fact that there is a relatively short window for fulfilling orders, the order management system should be robust enough to send real-time inventory updates to the website. It also should be capable enough in monitoring and replenishing the stocks quickly to prevent lost sales or out-of-stock or over-stock scenarios. Our team of expert dark store online consultants at YRC can help in setting up SOPs which shall help in monitoring and regulating inventory for the dark store. In dark store online consulting, YRC experts also help businesses put in place an inventory management system that would be capable of order modification, cancellation, and returns to the dark store. Store Layout Planning When it comes to setting up a dark store, store layout planning is one of the critical factors that deserves due attention. Dark stores are known for accommodating large quantities of goods. Hence, it is critical that store layout is planned in such a manner that it allows efficient allocation of stock for easy picking & fast deliveries of ordered items. It is important to plan the zones allocation, equipment, hardware, aisle and rack space planning, to achieve optimum output with low manpower costs involvement. YRC’s team of dark store online consultants shall provide guidance in designing the layout for optimum functioning of the dark store that is completely aligned to the retail objectives of the brand. Time & Motion Analysis Data analytics can play a pivotal role in streamlining the operations of a dark store, through insights into customer behaviour; adjustments are made to internal processes to suit customer preferences. Analytics can even help the retailer in stocking popular items in a dark store to make them easily accessible. YRC is equipped with the expertise to carry out time and motion study that help determine the ideal method for completing a particular process or procedure. Such practices can help in lowering the dependence on manpower and help improve productivity, last mile delivery efficiency and labour output. By setting up benchmarks for each process, the management will be able to single out underperformers and provide assessment and corrective action to improve on-the-job performance. Overall, it would help in the improvement and better management of the dark store. Store Set-Up Guidelines & best-practices When setting up a dark store, it is important to put in place the guidelines that spell out the “dos and don’ts” for effective day-to-day operations' management. YRC comes with the expertise, knowledge, and experience in providing guidance to e-commerce business owners on dark store management. Our retail consulting services include “sales and operations management” through strategies and techniques that allow minimum losses and tangible improvement in profits in the long-run. Planogram Planograms can be the critical link that allows stacking shelves with more products and addressing consumer demands better. A good balance between shelf inventory and consumer demand is known to lower costs. At YRC we come with expertise for designing planograms that reduce out-of-stock scenarios, improve revenues, and increase consumer satisfaction. Further, a planogram designed by YRC retail consultants or dark store online consultants is known for simulating purchase behaviour that also allows in positively impacting the bottom line. IT integration For retailers who plan to transition from retail models to a dark store set up, there is always the need to carry forward legacy picking systems. This apart, dark stores require order management systems (OMS), Auto-Replenishment Systems (ARS) for managing procurement. All such IT installations require expert guidance towards ensuring that they are integrated with the requirements of the dark store business model in place and the defined SOPs. A good and robust IT integration is fundamental to augmenting scale and capacities associated with a dark store. In delivering our dark store online consulting services, we keep these requirements at the fore. Man Power Planning Dark Store operations are labour-intensive particularly when it comes to order fulfilment and last mile delivery. With our experience, we can say that it is difficult to predict customer demand. Hence, it becomes imperative that an e-commerce brand has appropriate manpower planning to fulfil orders when the demand picks-up. Such a scenario makes it essential to reduce the training curve of new staff who can be easily trained and onboarded. YRC comes with knowledge and experience to design processes and systems to manage the critical aspects of manpower / HR management. Last-Mile Delivery It is a given fact that last-mile delivery is bringing about a dark store revolution. This is straight away impacting warehousing and logistics. Adapting a regular warehouse into a dark store completely changes the dynamics of a warehouse. Timely delivery of orders is critical, as it can adversely affect the brands' goodwill with bad reviews. At YRC, we have the expertise in designing systems of making sure your customers do not compromise on the overall experience and ensure they keep coming back to your brand, as we understand that profits are not made from one-time sales, but it's achieved with repeat buying from existing customers.