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Study: Nearly half of online orders to be delivered within two hours by 2028

Retailers are rethinking — and speeding up — their logistics operations to create a faster purchasing journey for customers.

To satisfy online consumers that want a faster purchasing experience, 78% of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023. Meanwhile, 40% anticipate two-hour delivery windows by 2028, according to the “Future of Fulfillment Vision study,” from Zebra Technologies.

To better meet the growing expectations of the on-demand economy, 76% of retailers use store inventory to fill online orders, and 86% of companies plan to implement buy online/pick up in store in the next year. Retailers are also investing in retrofitting stores to double as online fulfillment centers, and shrinking selling space to accommodate e-commerce pickups and returns.

In addition, 87% of retailers expect to use crowdsourced delivery, or a network of drivers that can get orders to customers faster, by 2028.

Next-generation supply chains will reflect connected, business-intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transportation and labor. The most disruptive technologies will be drones (39%), driverless/autonomous vehicles (38%), wearable and mobile technology (37%) and robotics (37%).
In other key findings:

• Supply chains will also become less error-prone, as 49% of companies will add more radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, tagging solutions and inventory management platforms in the next few years. The technology heightens inventory accuracy and shopper satisfaction while reducing out of stocks, overstocks and replenishment errors.

• While 72% of organizations currently utilize barcodes, 55 are still using inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes to enable omnichannel logistics. By 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 94% of respondents for omnichannel logistics.

• Accepting and managing returns also remains a challenge for 87% of respondents, especially as the increase in free and fast product delivery corresponds with an increase in returned merchandise. Seven in 10 surveyed executives agree that more retailers will turn stores into fulfillment centers that accommodate product returns.

• More than 60% of retailers that currently do not offer free shipping, free returns or same-day delivery plan to do so, while 44% expect to outsource returns management to a third party.
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