Big-box retailers are leveraging their stores to fulfill online orders closer to their consumers. These "micro-fulfillment centers" are located in the rear of established stores, with the sole purpose of delivery fulfillment and pickups. In addition to those open for in-person shopping, there are increasing numbers of “dark stores” either transformed or designed to strictly fulfill delivery and sometimes pickup. As online orders rise, from grocery items to home improvement and household goods, these options address the need to reduce delivery windows and increase flexibility in urban and suburban areas. Automation efforts are also rising, from robotic picking and autonomous carts to fully driverless delivery pods.
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