The Shortest Yard

Updated: Mar 20

Order Fulfillment centers for small to mid-tier retailers are now able to move closer and closer to the end customer and, in doing so, can compete with Amazon, Walmart and Target.


The Pain

For Retailers: we can’t get shortened or same day shipping because our DC or 3pl is not hyperlocal to our end customer

For Customers: my fast delivery options are limited to retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target

For the Environment: cardboard boxes are flooding the landfills.


Wow, that’s a lot of pain!

Is there one solution to solve all three. Yes. Yes, there is.


It’s called hyper-local fulfillment. In one of the more laggard aspects in retail, we are *finally* starting to see the real game-changing players emerge in this field.


The key components to hyper local fulfillment are size (has to be small), automation (has to be fast and accurate), and have modularity and mobility (has to be able to be responsive to business ebbs and flows and neighborhood development).



The Objective:

-Reduce transportation Cost

-Reduce packaging waste and the effect on the economy

-Streamline supply chain to customer flow.


Square Footage Overview

- Traditional fulfillment centers are close to 300,000 sq ft.

- Microfulfillment Centers: 3,000 – 10,000

- Nanofullfillment: 800 sq ft.



By occupying a smaller footprint, micro and nano fulfillment can be located closer to the end consumer. Microfullfillment centers typically take less time to set up (usually a couple of months) and a nanofulfillment centers takes 1 week.



Most Microfullfillment and Nanofullfillment are highly automated allowing for speeds unmatched by more traditional warehouse fulfillment even when using robots (such as Locus which shortens cycle times with robots doing more of the picking with human staff doing less of the walking)



MFCs can also be more cost effective for retailers as they offer the potential to use a subscription model, whereby retailers can choose to only rent out space in a center run by a micro-fulfillment company. With this approach, retailers do not need to make upfront investments in building out infrastructure and can lease out space in response to shifting demand.


But don’t take this from me. Let’s hear from the Founders and Executives!


The first up are the CEO and Founder team at Nanofullfillment.com


According to CEO Francisco Serrano:


He and his colleagues looked at the”….. ginormous systems that were being put in all over the world for Walmart and Amazon and we said ‘why can't we just make that smaller?"






Attabotics is a microfulfillment provider – they do the same job of a traditional fulfillment center in about 12% of the space). Attabotics says its packaging systems can put together an order in about 60-90 seconds, while the same order would take 60-90 minutes to be put together in a traditional warehouse.



According to Scott Gravelle, Founder of Attabotics, in my interview he says :

“When you are a smaller, mid, small size retailer compared to these big giants, how do you compete in the future?”



Watch Scott discuss big ideas and attainable changes in the fulfillment ecosystem.













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