Over the last year, many sectors have gone through significant changes, but the developments in retail might be some of the biggest. As a result of the global pandemic and technological innovations, shopping behavior has changed.
During the time when staying at home was the standard, customers started experimenting with online shopping more than usual.Statistics show that in 2020, over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online, and e-retail sales exceeded 4.2 trillion dollars worldwide. And this shift was not temporary, as consumers have now experienced the ease and convenience of buying online.
According to Oberlo, “it’s estimated that there will be 2.14 billion global digital buyers in 2021.” This shift to online shopping is huge, and many retailers are looking for ways to adjust to this new way of buying. Having a high-quality product is not enough anymore when it comes to competition from other retailers and the changing expectations of shoppers.
Speed, choice and convenience are crucial to consumers when finding a store to shop at, whether online or instore. As more businesses are providing next-day, or even same-day delivery, many retailers need to step up their game. This is even more crucial, regarding the fact that consumer brand loyalty is decreasing. Research by McKinsey shows that “consumers are switching brands at an unprecedented rate.” And much of this has to do with access to goods they need and convenience.
The need for warehouses and micro-fulfillment centers
It seems the key to stay in the race is speed. But how do you increase your delivery rate? Things like availability, efficiency and plain distance can slow down delivery time. Luckily, solutions have been found to address these issues.
Retailers have turned to expansion to meet the increasing demand in online shopping. Building new warehouses and micro-fulfillment centers can be the solution to deliver faster and more efficiently. A bigger warehouse can store more products, increasing availability. Micro-fulfillment centers are usually located in urban areas and speak to the other pain points. By improving the speed and efficiency of online orders, retailers can relieve pressure on store inventory, helping to keep their instore shoppers satisfied as well.
Simply expanding the space or bringing inventory closer to the consumer might seem like a done deal, but retailers will need to keep those spaces cleaned and running efficiently to continue to keep up with customer service expectations and demands.
One way to do this is by maintaining the space. Cleaning your distribution or storage facility might not seem like a priority, but the cleanliness of your warehouse can make a difference. According to Cyzerg Warehouse Technology: “A clean and organized warehouse can boost productivity, improve accuracy, and lead to higher job satisfaction.” Thus, cleaning will help you stay in the game for the long run.
Warehouse and micro-fulfillment centers can be challenging to clean
Cleaning a warehouse or micro-fulfillment center is just not the same as cleaning a grocery store or office. Warehouse managers can run into different challenges in the cleaning process.
The first problem, and considerably the most obvious one, is the large amount of space to be cleaned, 64% of all U.S. warehouses are larger than 25,000 square feet in size, according to data from the United States Energy Information Administration. An area of this size requires a large workforce, a lot of products and meticulous planning.
On top of that, flooring is likely the largest high touch point surface in the warehouse, and without proper floor care, dirt, dust, debris, and other particles can build up, be brushed back into the air, and cause damage to valuable merchandise.
While a staff shortage can be overcome and products can be ordered, planning can be difficult. A lack of structured cleaning can be of significant impact to the productivity and efficiency of a warehouse work force.
If routine cleaning is not accomplished, dirt and grime will build up and start to affect productivity, safety, and efficiency. The unintended negative consequences could be damaging to your business.
Fleet management can help with warehouse floor cleaning
In warehouses and micro-fulfillment centers, one thing is particularly important to clean: the floors. According to research: “Floors, in particular, endure a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis, but aren’t always maintained properly. From fuel spills to forklift tire damage to other types of debris, the warehouse floor can quickly turn into a safety hazard and/or eyesore pretty quickly.”
Thus, a clean floor is important for the appearance of your warehouse and the health and safety of those who work there. Therefore, paying some extra attention to the floor in your cleaning process is necessary.
When cleaning a such a large space and surface, one of the best practices to ensure consistency is to establish a cleaning checklist and schedule. It is important to find a way to clean your warehouse optimally, without hindering the productivity of the environment. To establish such a checklist and routine, fleet management can be a major help.
Fleet management software like i-Synergy by ICE Robotics provides users with every piece of information they might need to build and optimize a cleaning routine for flooring, a great place to start. Data like machine down-and runtime, machine operator, and square footage cleaned will help locate any pain points in your schedule.
Once you know this, you can make changes to your cleaning routine to clean more efficiently. In this way, managers can work with staff to build more efficient and thus productive processes. They will know the best time to clean, how often to do it and where to start.
When you have successfully upgraded your cleaning routine, you want to make sure you can stick to it every time. In this way, dirt will not get the opportunity to build up and affect the work in your warehouse or micro-fulfillment center.
Plus, not only can the information be used to optimize your routine, but it can also help you speak to a confirmed clean. Because you have insights to what cleaning has been, by whom, for how long, and where, you are able to show stake holders or interested parties that the job has indeed been completed.
A subscription service can help with warehouse floor cleaning
ICE Robotics Intelligent Cleaning Equipment is provided through a subscription model. The subscription model can not only help save on initial large investment costs, but it can also help warehouse managers address another problem: downtime.
Sweepers and scrubbers are the best way to clean large amounts of flooring in a timely and efficient manner, but like all things, they have their issues. Machine maintenance and service fees can cost upwards of $250 each time a machine needs repair—and one call might not fix the issue.
This is where using equipment provided through a subscription service can be a huge time and money saver because like the service offered by ICE Robotics, it includes active maintenance.
Meaning, the ICE Robotics Tech Connect team helps monitor your fleet, alerts you to machine notifications, figures out solutions before the issue gets bigger, and handles getting the machine fixed, all at no extra cost from your monthly subscription payment. In the end, this lessens the amount of downtime that can occur and saves you from paying unexpected maintenance and service fees.
Autonomous floor cleaning equipment can help keep your warehouse clean
Another solution for warehouse floor care can be autonomous cleaning equipment, like the autonomous floor scrubber EMMA by ICE Robotics.
This floor scrubber can work anytime, anywhere. With an autonomous productivity rate of 28,928 ft/hr., it is the perfect machine for a warehouse or micro-fulfillment center. Moreover, the scrubber can safely clean alongside workers, without hindering their productivity.
This is especially great for warehouses, where shipments are going in and out and many people are working 24/7. Warehouse managers can easily use EMMA for another round of floor cleaning when the cleaning crew has gone home, but orders are still being processed. In this way, the floors will get the extra attention they deserve, without diminishing productivity or straining cleaning staff.
Please reach out to our floor care experts to learn how Intelligent Cleaning Equipment can help you!
For further reading, we suggest: 3 Ways to Ensure Your Grocery Store is Being Cleaned