First published in Forbes October 23rd 2019
I don't know about you but it seems to me that in the crazily busy, demanding lives many of us now lead, time and space sometimes appears to bend to the point where it can be difficult to know which way's up.
The on-demand economy can be a challenging arena and there's one area where our insatiable appetite for faster and quicker is going into overdrive.
I'm referring to delivery or, to give it its industry name—fulfillment. And there's a solution which will go some way to sate that appetite, and it's rapidly gaining traction.
I wrote about Israeli startup CommonSense back in August. Since then, it seems that changing their name to Fabric is not the only thing they've been up to.
With a $110 million funding round announced today, it would seem that the U.S. market is now firmly in their sights. In partnership with some of the leading brands in the U.S., micro-fulfillment sites are set to spring up all over the country if Fabric's plans come to fruition.
"We are designing and building an entirely new logistics infrastructure in cities so that on-demand fulfillment and delivery can happen faster, cheaper and at scale"
Elram Goren, CEO, Fabric
The first of these in the New York City area is due to be opened early next year. So why is all this important?
Along with that insatiable appetite, more of us are living in city centers and our ever evolving demands and expectations mean that delivery within the hour is set to become the new normal.
Fabric refer to the capability they are developing as "fulfillment as a service" meaning that retailers can tap into the capability without any capital investment. Alternatively they can also use a platform model to deploy the solution on their own sites.
Fulfillment in the cloud if you will.
It's compelling and it's game-changing and set to revolutionize the industry. Got a spare 6,000 square feet lying idle? Transform the space into a micro-fulfillment center. The possibilities for turning logistics on its head are mind boggling.
Because the traditional model is of large, remote warehouses feeding a retail network, inevitably resulting in minimum delivery timescales. By bringing that facility in close proximity with consumers, flexibility and speed become possible in ways never before envisaged.
For retailers this means not only on-demand fulfillment however. By bringing an automated distribution function far closer to the consumer, it also means that it sits far closer to stores, thereby enabling much more efficient restocking.
And to think, if I'd placed my order when I began writing this article, it would have been delivered to my door while I'm writing this sentence. Now there's food for thought.