The emergence of Internet and mobile technology is changing the way we live and shop. From Brazil to Vietnam online shopping is gaining traction. The rise in millennial spending power is accelerating the pace.
According to a recent study conducted by Oracle Retail involving 13,250 consumers across 12 countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan and the US, 40.7% of millennial (ages 18 to 34) shop online at least once a week.
As retailers shift to a multi-channel marketplace it brings about complexities which retailers and wholesalers will have to deal with. For one, requirements for B2B and B2C order fulfillment are so different. Supplying B2B to stores involves periodic delivery cycles, relatively limited order lines, many items per line and a targeted number of delivery addresses, whilst B2C is characterized by rapid, ad-hoc deliveries of small quantities at short notice. It may require warehouses to separate storage locations or order-picking zones, which invariably increases the number of SKUS.
How can retailers manage this efficiently? The short answer is automation. The greater the number of SKUs in the warehouse, the less efficient and productive a manpower-intensive warehouse becomes.
Order picking is a good place for a company to start the automation journey. It is one of the most cost- and labour-intensive processes in the warehouse, and is also one of the most error-prone. Yet getting it right is integral to customer satisfaction. Deliver the right product in the right quantity to the right customer at the right time and customer satisfaction gains a few notches. But the reverse is true should companies get it wrong.
Improving the speed, ease and accuracy of the pick operation can also impact the entire operation and flow, bringing about significant improvements in warehouse productivity and efficiency.
For fast, efficient operation with good accuracy, nothing beats the fully automated systems. By making a shift from a manual operation – man to goods – to goods to man, companies can expect to enjoy very significant gains, as walking, searching and selecting can take 75% of an order picker’s time.
Studies have shown an order picker walking around the warehouse looking for picks can do possibly 60 to 80 picks an hour. With goods to man picking, supported by miniloads, carousels, shuttles or automated guided vehicles, the pick rate can easily go up to 1,000 pick rates per hr. With an A-frame, the pick rate of the top of the range model is in excess of 50,000 items per hour, with high quality and reliability even at peak loads.
Automation also increases flexibility, enabling you to scale up when necessary. With automation, you can equally handle 1,000 SKUs or 10,000, so vital in this dynamic retail environment.
What counts in today’s retail environment are speed, accuracy and increase in SKU range. With automation, you can achieve all three.
What automated systems should you consider to rev up your warehouse efficiency? Much depends on the nature of the business.
At SSI Schaefer, we provide solutions not products. Bottom-line, we need to understand the client’s requirements both now and into the future, in terms of products, SKU range, order profile and more, in order to provide the appropriate recommendation. Any system installed must be able to serve the company demands for a good number of years to justify the investment made. The client would have to share their plans with us in order for us to propose an appropriate system.
For more information, check in with us and we can assist you in making an informed decision.