Warehouse: The Backbone of Supply Chain

The warehouse is the backbone of any successful retail or distribution business. Making sure the processes within your warehouse are efficiently managed is vital, especially when looking to achieve frictionless growth. The role of automation here is key. There are generally two main drivers for automating your warehouse –delivering an optimal customer experience and reducing cost per order. Warehouse automation is one of the main enablers of operational efficiency, productivity and visibility.  It offers the opportunity to reduce errors yet solve problems immediately when they do occur and scale up operations as and when you need to.

We’ve asked our Sales and Marketing Director, Marcus to share his thoughts on the trends and challenges facing the warehousing sector at the moment:

What impact will future technology have on warehousing?

“Technological change has become a notable driver in consumer expectation. With timescales from early adoption to mass consumer uptake getting shorter, the pressure to meet expectation and remain competitive is high. Much of the focus is around high-end technology and its ability to enhance the buying experience and physical delivery process. However, fulfilment bridges the two phases, and it has a significant part to play in satisfying the demand for a seamless shopping experience. There is no doubt that technology will only continue to play a dominant role in improving accuracy and speed of pick, pack and despatch, helping the warehouse meet the growth opportunities the market presents.”

What challenges are currently impacting the warehousing sector? Do these differ from the challenges faced around ten years ago?

“E-commerce sales are expected to reach over $4 trillion by next year. Whilst this presents vast opportunities for growth, the rise in online shopping also presents an array of challenges that 10 years ago weren’t even a factor within the warehousing sector. Much of the focus of e-commerce in particular is on the front-end customer experience, while it’s the warehouse that’s responsible for delivering these sales. Online retailers have to deal with huge fluctuations in order volumes on a daily basis. The pressure this places on warehousing and delivery often leads to the likelihood of errors. The reality is that those who are prepared to reshape their business to deliver against peak demands and invest in automation, will ultimately be able to respond more quickly to customer orders and speed up deliveries.”

How might technology be used to overcome these challenges?

“The possibility for future technology within the warehousing and logistics sector is lighting fires. Navigating this increasingly complex technological marketplace now, will undoubtedly pay dividends in future proofing your warehouse. Using virtual reality for example, to demonstrate how an automated system would work in real life, decreases the risk of investment. Likewise, as voice technology continues to grow in importance for everything from AI in the home to enhancing customer experience and service, so it also has a place in improving warehouse efficiency. We would always recommend working with a technology partner to identify the right solutions, which will deliver the best results for your business.”

What are the latest trends in the warehousing sector?

“The warehouse and logistics sector is currently undergoing major disruption of the type never witnessed before. The sector is having to address the ‘traditional’ fluctuations alongside radical technological advances. IoT, AI, drone delivery and even the recent introductions of 5G are creating great opportunities for the sector. Underpinning these disruptions is the ever-increasing volumes of data. Data will have a clear role to play in determining the future of warehousing. Applying its value further down the supply chain, from manufacturer to retailer to distributor, will drive a much bigger role for the warehouse and logistics function in the future. It is becoming clear that companies that are able to realise its value will not only reduce costs, drive efficiencies and improve the customer journey – but they will innovate into a potentially new business model that can put them ahead of their competitors.”

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