The power of e-commerce lies largely in the broad exposure it provides. Not limited by the physical locations of retail outlets, e-commerce opens up products to the world. And, that world is increasingly embracing the choice and convenience e-commerce delivers, creating growth across the sector.
But what makes e-commerce so powerful from a sales perspective can create challenges in the warehouse. Seasonal surges or steady growth can each stretch warehouse operations to the breaking point, ultimately delaying fulfillment and alienating customers just as a business is poised to take a step forward.
It’s a challenge that is increasingly difficult to address by adding warehouse personnel, particularly during the holiday shopping season. The labor market is as tight as it has been in years and competition for seasonal warehouse workers has become fierce.
Even with signing bonuses, higher wages and other perks, many e-commerce operators have been unable to bring in anywhere close to the number of workers they require to meet demand during the holiday season. The result is overtaxed workers, higher costs per order, and slower deliveries, all of which threaten the long-term health of the business.
The obvious solution is automation. Yet, traditional warehouse automation solutions weren’t designed to address the specific challenges of e-commerce. Instead of facilitating efficient response to growth in inventory or throughput, they rely on fixed systems that can make it more difficult to respond to change. Fortunately, a new generation of warehouse automation solutions has emerged that delivers the key attributes warehouse operators need to efficiently and costeffectively manage growth.