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retail warehousing success

How Automation Empowers Retail Warehousing Success

Automation is quickly becoming the newest way to empower supply chain leaders with warehousing success. Automation enables paperless warehouses, and cloud computing spending has seen a remarkable trend upward of 4.5 times the rate of IT spending over the last decade. More importantly, cloud system automation is on track to become the dominant factor in the market by 2020, driving customer satisfaction, and more. Supply chain leaders need to understand how automation truly empowers retail warehousing success.

Barriers to Retail Warehousing Success

Any change within your operation will inevitably encounter
barriers. These barriers reflect the ongoing costs of upgrades, as well as
critical issues that arise as newer systems replace older technologies.
Consider these barriers to retail
warehousing success in today’s world:

  • Data overload. More modern systems generate a ton of data, and the application of this data holds value. However, it may be impossible to sort through data with subpar analytics capabilities.
  • Inability to really compete with Amazon. Many organizations define their level of automation and retail warehousing success based on a comparison with the largest warehouse on the planet, Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon has a significant advantage; their established footprint enables implementation of the latest technologies, the ability to gain market share by losing profits, and more.
  • Varying times to pay back on investment. This is perhaps the biggest barrier to success. Improvements within the warehouse will cost money. Yet, the use of automation in the warehouse can have a shorter time to pay back the initial investment than other enhancements. For example, automated picking and packing processes, report Modern Materials Handling, can successfully achieve payback in 6 to 12 months.

Automation Enables Better Warehouse
and Distribution Center Strategies

Take a moment to think about what defines automation in the warehouse. Does it include automated picking and packing, robotics, analytics-driven movements, artificial intelligence, and machine learning? The short answer is yes. However, automation does not mean your entire facility goes “lights out.” It merely reflects the ongoing improvement in existing operations to empower retail warehousing success through better warehouse and distribution center strategies. It all goes back to making informed decisions and reducing overhead. Therefore, customers get what they expect, when they expect it, and through their preferred channel.

For example, customers may wish to buy online and pick up
(BOPIS). BOPIS order fulfillment can leverage automation to
streamline the process, such as using Walmart vending machines for e-commerce
orders and Amazon pickup lockers.

Automation has additional implications for better
labor-management, reduced labor allocation for heavy and bulky items, optimized
orders released to workers, dock scheduling, and every possible repetitive

How to Deploy Automation for
Optimized Order Fulfillment

The exact path to warehouse automation is not defined. It
depends on the unique needs of your organization and your current level of
system innovation. As explained by Bridget
McCrea of Modern Materials Handling
, supply chain managers should follow a
few steps to prepare for the deployment of automated systems that will optimize
order fulfillment:

  1. Determine if your company is truly ready for
    an automated system.
    Any existing gaps in your IT department will need to
    be addressed before investing in an automated system, and it may be advisable
    to work with a third-party, such as a supply
    chain systems integrator
    , to determine what is necessary to make the
  2. Know how the system will benefit your
    As noted above, many different levels of automation exist. It
    is essential to define the cost savings through each change compared to the
    cost of implementation.
  3. Develop a dedicated change management team.
    This team will work together with outside entities, including submitting
    requests for proposal, reviewing existing system limitations, considering
    possibilities through new systems, and overseeing implementation.
  4. Remember the complexities of data migration.
    The best systems on the planet enable turnkey management, but they come at a
    risk. They may require a clear set of data to implement. However, new systems,
    such as automated configuration and system testing tools, can reduce the
    stressors of data migration.

Gain the Success in Your Warehouse
with the Power of Automation

The level of dispersion of automation within your warehouse
is critical to leveraging automation and reaping its benefits. Since it
represents a significant undertaking for an organization and includes the
implementation of new technologies, working with an experienced partner will be
crucial to success. Visit Veridian
to get started today.

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