Why a modern warehouse is crucial to staying competitive in the industry
The wholesale and distribution industry is currently undergoing a shift in how they operate with warehousing and fulfilment in need of a modern-day makeover in order to meet growing demand. Faced with the growing pressures to offer lower prices, quicker delivery times and a personalised service in an evolving multi-channel landscape, successful, savvy wholesalers, merchants and distributors must modernise their operations to stay competitive.
Demands from manufacturers are forcing companies to look at efficiencies, retailers are demanding a more responsive service and end-user customers are looking for a multi-channel, personal experience. This means businesses need to tackle these challenges head on by embracing technology to future-proof their business. To remain relevant, businesses need to move forward and any business that is hesitating could soon be left behind as competitors take the lead and harness the power of digital transformation.
State of the industry
Zebra Technologies recently commissioned a global research study to analyse the trends and challenges that are transforming warehousing operations. The study asked over 1,400 IT and operational decision makers from manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution industries for their insight on current and planned strategies for modernising their warehouses, distribution centres and fulfilment centres from 2019 – 2024.
The top trends to emerge from the study were:
- 46% cited faster delivery to end-customers as the primary factor driving their growth plans
- 60% reported labour recruitment and / or labour efficiency and productivity among their top challenges
- 80% of organisations are planning to invest in new technologies to be competitive
- 60% of businesses will rely on a combination of humans and technology by 2024 with only 27% planning to utilise full automation.
As warehouses are getting larger to accommodate the rise in demand, the report found the key challenges businesses face are technology utilisation, capacity usage, supply chain visibility and labour efficiency. Zebra Technologies believe: “industry leaders must skilfully balance day-to-day responsibilities with their long-term modernisation plans to ensure seamless operations and avoid supply chain disruptions.”
Adding more space to a warehouse is a step towards meeting the needs of the on-demand market but it’s very easy for the added space, and overhead costs, to not be fully optimised. In short, this means implementing technology that increases visibility, enhances productivity and provides intelligence and flexibility to effectively navigate the ever-changing needs of warehousing.
Digital transformation is about reviewing existing business processes in order to change the existing ways of working to optimise technology and better utilise resources to become the leanest most efficient operation. Industry leaders are realising that they need to evaluate their existing infrastructure and business processes to modernise their warehouse. Zebra Technologies reported that 61% of respondents agreed that IT / technology utilisation is their biggest operational challenge now and within the next five years.
Employees have concerns that digitalising processes will lead to job cuts, but the research shows proof of the opposite. The study reveals that decision makers think automation and employees need to work side by side to achieve maximum efficiencies. More than 70% of respondents believe there will be human involvement in workflows and 39% of those agree that adding an automation component to workers’ routines creates the optimal balance for warehouse operations.
The road to modernisation
The report highlights that many businesses know transforming their warehouse operations is key to future-proofing their business but 77% of respondents admit they are slow to implement new devices and technology. Zebra Technologies believe that to truly modernise a warehouse, decision makers must concentrate on three distinct areas and ensure they are synchronised: the warehouse management system (WMS), devices and the infrastructure workers use to improve overall workflow performance and automation.
Those 3 key areas to modernise a warehouse links inevitably with the 3-key future-proofing business objectives: control, visibility and efficiency that we believe are crucial for a business to keep pace in the market.
Creating a smarter warehouse starts with workers on the front line and the operation’s system of record, the WMS, which then enables automation to the flow of data and physical assets alike. With all this in sync, businesses increase visibility and make data driven decisions to improve performance. As the warehouse environment becomes smarter, teams can work more efficiently. The increased efficiency and visibility achieved through a central WMS increases control over performance and leads the way for more informed, accurate, real-time decisions.
Modernise your warehouse to stay competitive
Don’t let legacy, disparate and manual systems hold you back from your full potential. Tackling the challenges and addressing the pressures of the on-demand economy by embracing technology to modernise your warehouse is the only way to future-proof your business. The study highlighted that decision makers plan to take an incremental approach to warehouse modernisation by first focusing on their most valuable asset, their workers. They plan to create a smarter working environment for workers to thrive, using technology to boost productivity and effectiveness.
OGL Software enables businesses to be more efficient and competitive by streamlining their stock management, automating their business processes and optimising their order processing. Our ERP software solutions remove the manual business processes that are holding you back so you can work smarter, not harder, to grow your business.