Is your supply chain equipped to deal with rising consumer expectations? Zebra Technologies shares how intelligent fulfilment can rise to the challenge of retailers’ ever-evolving business requirements.
The rise of ecommerce across the retail and consumer goods industry is sending ripples through the supply-chain. With orders rapidly increasing, the demand for faster merchandise deliveries is redefying traditional distribution – with 77 per cent of warehouses struggling to meet same-day-delivery.
Shoppers are now buying via multiple touch points – online from desktop computer and mobile devices to in-store –creating the need for “smarter warehouses” to meet consumer needs. As retailers merge their brick-and-mortar and online operations its vital warehouse management systems keep-up to ensure the efficient and smooth-running of business operations.
A successful supply-chain management system goes beyond keeping products stocked and logged, and need to be easily locatable within the warehouse, and dispatched as quickly as possible.
So far, flawless fulfilment has been the solution to help supply-chains meet these new challenging business requirements. Wireless and mobile technology is emerging to replace paper processes and allows for real-time computerised tracking and checking of products – right through the picking, packing and shipping process.
However, as e-commerce continues to grow, and more businesses become reliant on products being moved from warehouses to stores, there will be a need for more interconnected and transparent fulfilment processes.
Through technology, warehouse operations can become more “intelligent”. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) are being brought together to create more efficient and smart systems, that promote communications, stock availability and ensure items are available whenever and wherever they are needed.
By integrating these new technologies, operation managers can actively monitor, in real-time, the status of stock levels and locations. Additionally, AI and machine learning can be leveraged to anticipate, analyse and adapt product levels, specifically around changing ecosystems such as seasonal demand, or even predict future challenges caused by adverse weather conditions.
Previously, this kind of scheduling and tracking could not take place in real-time, requiring warehouse managers to wait for batches of stock to arrive on site before identifying and logging. As customer demand for same-day delivery continues to rise these outdated processes are no longer viable and stock needs to be monitored wherever it is in the supply-chain, including its transportation route.
Moving stock between locations means communication integrated with connected technologies is more important than ever. It enables labour management, transport and location demand to seamlessly work as one to ensure the supply-chain is able to deal with the complexity of e-commerce.
As a workable concept, intelligent fulfilment is still in its infancy, but supply-chain managers and warehouse operators are already seeing benefits from integrating order management, real-time scheduling and accurate tracking throughout a product’s life-cycle.
To learn more about how technology will redefine supply-chain automation and optimise your warehouse operations, click here.