Let’s talk about labor shortages in warehouses and distribution centers. Point blank, they are hurting the industry. New survey data from Berkshire Grey Research indicates 64% of Supply Chain officers say a generation gap is a leading cause of labor shortages in warehouses and a full 57% believe these shortages have hindered their ability to meet demand. Simultaneous to these painful labor shortages is a massive expanse in the industry's opportunities in e-commerce.
So, what can our industry do to bridge this gap? Well, the most apparent answer is to implement warehouse technologies. 71% of the Supply Chain Officers surveyed believe automation is necessary to counter reduced job applications from younger generations and 78% expect to save more than 10% on order fulfillment costs by doing so.
What are warehouse technologies?
Simply, warehouse technologies are any hardware, software, or machinery that helps a warehouse run more efficiently. Implementing warehouse technologies can be a part of a broader push for warehouse digitization which is the transition to a more automated and technology-focused operation.
There are many types of warehouse technology and choosing the right tech will depend on the existing operations and budgetary goals of the business.
Our recommendation: Find a great WMS
If we were to make a single recommendation for incorporating tech into a warehouse, we would recommend a great Warehouse Management System (WMS). WMS software allows businesses to view and implement processes within their warehouses from a single point of control. Common features include inventory and order management, pick and pack management, real-time analytics, and integration to existing ERP platforms.
A WMS is one of the single most powerful warehouse technologies. It can help businesses’ bottom lines by reducing costly inventory mistakes, speeding up the time it takes for order processing, and utilizing real-time data to identify gaps and redundancies in a warehouse’s operations.
There are many options on the market for WMS software, so if you’re just beginning to look at your options, it’s best to define your business’ requirements and pain points. Once you know exactly what you want it will be much easier to pick the right WMS for your business.
Key features of a great WMS
All the potential power of a WMS is in the specific features a software company offers. So, finding great WMS software will mean finding the right balance of features and functionality to best meet your business’ needs. We’ll shift gears now to discuss some of the most important features that are useful for almost any warehouse and how they may help you achieve your goals.
Smart Pack and Pick:
Have you ever tried to navigate a new city without a map or navigation? Now, imagine that you’ve just been dropped into this new city and it’s your job to find a specific stone in this city and to bring it back to where you started. This would be stressful, right? Well, this is likely how many new warehouse employees feel.
Luckily, Smart Pack and Pick technologies allow you to provide turn-by-turn directions for every piece of inventory in your warehouse. This will allow your employees to reach their destination more quickly and spend less time determining where to go next. Employees will feel less frustrated and happier employees get more done.
Some WMS software, including ShipCaddie, offer this service. If you have large warehouses or small piece inventories, Smart Pack and Pick is a great feature to look for in a WMS software.
AI to route packages:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a process in which a computer learns or makes decisions based on a set of information it’s been given. Implementing AI technology into a warehouse can help in a multitude of ways, especially for route optimization when dealing with warehouse operations or shipping packages. AI can help move inventory and parcels throughout your warehouse in the most efficient way possible.
This will help your business reduce losses, speed up movement around the warehouse, and reduce the strain of human labor by reducing redundancies.
Finally, a virtual warehousing feature is a powerful WMS tool. This is software that allows real-time visibility for logistics assets and inventory from anywhere in the world. This helps logisticians put aside, store, and allocate inventories through one channel at a time. This benefits businesses in several keyways; meeting customer demand for fast shipping, minimizing instances of stock-outs, and optimizing data for more accurate forecasts.
For many businesses looking to implement a virtual warehousing system, the ability to integrate existing points-of-sale is also an important consideration. ShipCaddie, which offers virtual warehousing, also seamlessly integrates with dozens of e-commerce platforms including Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Shopify.
Whether you’re looking to improve efficiency, better meet a growing e-commerce demand, or overcoming the industry’s labor shortages, warehouse technologies, especially a great WMS software, can help. Our strongest recommendation is to find a WMS that meets your needs and incorporates additional desired features.
ShipCaddie TWMS, which incorporates a transportation management system alongside a WMS, may be the one-stop-shop your business needs. If you would like to learn more about ShipCaddie’s solutions, reach out to us through LinkedIn!