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Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC)

A micro fulfillment center or MFC is an automated fulfillment center used by ecommerce businesses to store their inventory closer to the end consumer. Their structure size typically ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, with some as small as 5,000 square feet. MFCs can be co-housed inside an existing retail store, or placed in a smaller warehouse space in an urban location.

MFCs have two main components: physical infrastructure, including robots that pick items from storage aisles and shuttle them to packing staff, and software management systems, that process online orders.

Benefits Of Micro-Fulfillment Centers

Micro fulfillment centers help reduce transportation costs and enable shorter delivery times because they are located closer to customers. MFCs enable retailers to pick, pack and ship orders within minutes or hours because of their proximity to customers.

MFCs are serving multiple areas of retail — including grocery, convenience stores, drug stores, general merchandise and department stores. MFCs are especially relevant for grocery retailers. With the increase of online grocery orders since the global pandemic, grocery retailers have struggled to fulfill orders quickly and efficiently. Using a micro fulfillment center allows them to increase fulfillment efficiency, enable same-day delivery, and reduce labor costs.

MFCs also help to reduce labor costs associated with order fulfillment when compared with manual picking of the order because they use automation. The number of workers needed to manually fulfill orders is reduced with automation, order accuracy improves and orders are fulfilled more efficiently. Grocery retailers have begun to implement micro fulfillment centers for these reasons because of the rapid growth of online grocery shopping since the global pandemic in 2020.

Examples of Micro-Fulfillment Centers

The video above shows the Alphabot® System from Alert Innovation, which helps to automate order fulfillment at an grocery micro fulfillment center. The Alphabot System can also handle completed order storage and automated order dispense to shoppers.

Related terms: fulfillment center, local fulfillment center, nano fulfillment center, regional fulfillment center

 

 

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