Black Friday to Cyber Monday: What Fuels The World’s Largest Retailers?

“Hurry up and wait” seems to be the motto of many Black Friday shoppers as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is upon us.  Extensive delay times to enter stores, long check-out lines and heavy traffic have tempted many consumers to stay home and shop online from the comfort of their living rooms.  As a result of this ever-increasing habit, Cyber Monday was born and is steadily competing with Black Friday for popularity.

According to Adobe Digital Insights, a company who tracks data from online purchases across the 100 biggest retailers, consumers spent $12.8 billion online in the U.S. from Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday last year, which was also the first time that the number of online shoppers for the holiday season surpassed the number of people who hit the stores by 10M.

It is becoming increasingly evident year after year that retailers who have a solid foot in the e-commerce holiday game must also have a progressive method of fulfilling and shipping those orders in a timely manner, and few companies know that better than Amazon and Wal-Mart. It should come as no surprise that companies such as these have learned to implement the latest, greatest and most efficient technology available to maintain their competitive edge.

Enter the hydrogen fuel-cell.

According to Reuters.com, in 2017 Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, equipped 11 warehouses with hydrogen fuel-cell forklifts so they can charge faster and lift more goods before running out of juice.  Amazon spent $70M on the deal in 2017 and will likely spend twice that in 2018.  Not to be outdone, Wal-Mart acquired hydrogen fuel-cell forklifts at over 50 distribution centers this year to bolster its energy efficiency.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

“Fulfillment centers are traditionally fairly low tech,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power, the company behind the fuel-cell forklift technology.  He explained that labor as well as physical space could be freed up by moving away from the current system of battery-powered forklifts, which requires lots of attention.  Fuel-cell forklifts have the ability be charged in minutes instead of hours, freeing up work around the clock and a benefit of vital importance to 24/7 industry innovators such as Amazon and Wal-Mart.

These are just some of the benefits that can be credited to hydrogen fuel-cells as the technology continues to impact various industries around the globe, bridging the chasm between daily usability and modern technology.  Hydrogen fuel-cells are being sought after a means to power buildings, data centers, telecommunication towers, hospitals and backup power systems.  The technology is being utilized in military applications as well as fueling trains, planes, mass transit and automotive platforms.  It is quickly working it’s way into the mainstream workforce, and forward-thinking businesses are rapidly recognize the accessibility, productivity and dependability that are offered through hydrogen fuel-cells; they are then quick to invest and implement accordingly.

While few companies can compete with the efficiency and progressive nature of the powerhouse retailers, Amazon and Wal-Mart, it is likely that their advantageous approach to modernizing the twenty-first century warehouse will not be overlooked by competitors.  In the words of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, “If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”  And the most pioneering leaders in the world are focused on hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

 

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