Flexibility and innovation are two key factors defining successful brands in today’s rapidly changing retail landscape. The same equation applies on the landlord side of the equation, too, but it’s getting harder to read the signs. On the one hand, research shows that low retail vacancy rates are holding steady. On the other hand, the proliferation of store closures in the last 18 month, combined with highly visible vacancies in some of retail’s famous shopping districts, have landlords scratching their heads over what to do with vacancies and excess space.

Enter Darkstore, an emerging technology firm in the growing third-party logistic (3PL) space. Originating from the idea of recovering inventory space in warehouses and shipping facilities for fulfillment use, Darkstore takes the concept one step further. Their platform facilitates same-day service delivery for e-commerce brands, like Tuft & Needle, accessing hyper-localized commerce centers in the cities where their consumers live. Darkstore works with both traditional mail services like UPS, DHL and FedEx, as well as on-demand delivery services to provide low-cost warehouse-as-a-service options from Ventura, CA to Columbus, OH.

Partnerships with on-demand delivery services are a hot commodity. While Amazon has its own locker service, Walmart and Target have acquired same-day delivery technologies to decrease the wait time after purchase. Darkstore provides a similar service for smaller companies that operate solely online, with no brick and mortar to call home. Exploiting excess capacity in storage facilities, malls, convenience stores and even bodegas, Darkstore creates local fulfillment centers, often with just the help of a smartphone.

Innovation: The Buck Doesn’t Stop There

The demand for omnichannel solutions to incorporate new technologies is emerging everywhere within the purchasing and supply chain management funnel. As the popularity of subscription services and digital home assistants continues to grow, the supply needs to be flexible enough to solve for immediacy.

We have entered a phase where the speed of iteration has birthed an omnichannel matrix network. Today, the Amazon-ization of consumers’ expectations impacts every retailer’s distribution and fulfillment network and puts extreme pressure on brands to ensure products arrive on doorsteps in an hour, same-day or, at the very latest, by next-day delivery. It is even more crucial for everyone involved in the retail ecosystem to think differently. Every step forward to push boundaries beyond the traditional role of retailers will continue to expand the spark on an overdue revitalization in the retail space.

Anjee continues to be an insatiable enthusiast of all things retail. She’s a student of culture with a pulse on future shoppers and the fleeting trends constantly changing the retail landscape … driving retailers, landlords and developers crazy!