Retail warehouses were originally created for one purpose: to get inventory to the storefront. With the rise of eCommerce and shopper expectations, warehouse operations are pressed to overcome a list of challenges that come with having an omnichannel supply chain. While these challenges are significant, many of them can be addressed by implementing the right technology solutions that provide you flexibility and visibility into your operation.
How Voice Helps
Omnichannel operations often have to deal with incredibly tight shipping windows, as online sales often come with a promise of same-day shipping and open many businesses up to international shipping. This requires the warehouse and its workers to be as productive as possible at all times.
After implementing voice, it is common for warehouses to see improvements in productivity up to 35%, with some operations seeing improvements upwards of 70%.
This allows warehouses to not only increase throughput, but also handle fluctuations with ease.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
When ordering online, what matters most to customers is that they get the product they want when they want it. To fulfill this promise, warehouses must work to increase accuracy on the picking floor without sacrificing the productivity needed to get orders out on time. With voice, pickers are able to keep their hands and eyes free at all times, maintaining complete focus on the task they have been given. The voice system also utilizes check digits, which ensure that the picker is in the correct location, has chosen the correct item and has the correct quantity.
With all of these factors in place, voice typically leads to an 85% increase in accuracy, which can mean hundreds or thousands more satisfied customers.
Alleviating Seasonal Peak Stress
When implemented efficiently and in conjunction with great workflows, voice can positively impact and alleviate many of the peak season issues. A well-implemented voice system will not only benefit you during your peaks, but will also continue to provide value throughout the rest of the year.
When training new or seasonal workers on a voice system, training time is often reduced by more than 65%. This can be attributed to the ease of use for the voice system, as well as workers being guided by the voice interface rather than having to learn how to use RF scanners or read a paper list and interpret the directions.
Additionally, voice will help ease any fluctuations in demand experienced during the peak seasons. On average, workers are 35% more productive once they have been voice enabled, allowing you to handle more orders without needing more workers.
Rapidly changing orders and inventory updates
The voice dashboard displays give you real-time views and alerts that enable you to react to the challenges of the day, and make adjustments in order to drive throughput and increase efficiency across the board. These adjustments include workforce reassignment to meet order requirements, order management, and real-time replenishment to ensure you have the product on the floor when you need it.
Additionally, these real-time updates allow your mission critical systems to remain up to date as your workers are picking on the warehouse floor, ensuring that availability information on your website, or in-store systems will always be correct.
“Voice has allowed us to address the peaks of our business by enabling us to see the increased volume required, adjust our workforce of temporary and allocate staff to the hot spots, equipping them with the equipment they need then by flooding the work zones with resources needed to meet the demand.” –Warehouse and Distribution Director, London Drugs Specialty eCommerce Retailer
As in-store pickup and local delivery become more common for omnichannel operations, store fronts need to become increasingly efficient to keep margins down. Retail workers are now filling orders that were previously filled from the distribution centers from store shelves, which is a practice that can quickly become costly as many retail workers are paid at a higher rate than their counterparts in the warehouse. It is important to implement a process in store to keep labor costs at a minimum, while getting the maximum efficiency from the employees.
With voice, retail employees can utilize the same technology as their warehouse counterparts without disrupting the store environment. The voice headset has a low profile and doesn’t look much different than a traditional headset, allowing voice-enabled workers to discreetly move around your storefront completing tasks like picking and inventory checks.
Flexibility and Scalability
Voice is built to enable warehouses large and small, and in a variety of workflows. Whether you are a smaller operation that only looking to improve picking, or if you are a massive company looking to overhaul all your warehouse processes, voice can be tailored to fit your needs. The software will also scale as your operation grows, as you can integrate voice with any size of WMS or ERP while maintaining many of the same business processes. This ensures that your investment will last, regardless of the changes the industry might take in the future.
Whether it’s the ability to adapt to changing customer expectations or handle peaks in inventory demand, flexibility is the key to handling the challenges that omnichannel presents your retail warehouse. With voice, you will be able to stay ahead of customer expectations and demand, allowing your operation to thrive during seasonal peaks and valleys.