The world of warehousing is changing rapidly due to growing industry demands, and no business is immune to the effects. That includes small- to medium-sized businesses that have warehouses as part of their operations.
Historically, warehousing has been a fairly low-tech industry, and when market leaders in fulfillment and logistics such as Amazon or Walmart began reinventing and disrupting the way we store and move inventory and products, many small- to medium-sized businesses assumed these changes would have minimal impact on smaller players.
By now, most companies realize that this was wishful thinking. Even smaller warehouses and businesses are now contending with customer expectations for the kind of speed, efficiency, and accuracy that the biggest players have provided for a decade or more.
That can seem like a daunting proposition, but the good news is that there is one common denominator that levels the playing field between the warehousing juggernauts and the rest of the industry: Technology.
The big players have built their success on technology innovation, platforms, and solutions. And while a lot of attention is paid to their use of robotics, automation, and sophisticated analytics to get a competitive advantage, the core of what they do and how they achieve their results is based on much simpler and more accessible technologies.
For example, everything that the biggest players do is based on digital systems and technologies that are affordable and accessible to even the smallest players and companies that don’t have billion-dollar budgets. These include industrial handheld mobile computers, tablets, barcode scanners, and barcode and RFID printers that enable more streamlined, automated, and efficient workflows and inventory management.
Instead of relying on paperwork and slow, error-prone manual processes, any warehouse can quickly and easily modernize and digitize its operations by using these technologies or upgrading to next-generation solutions that enable giant leaps in overall warehouse performance.
For example, you can digitize picking with a wearable mobile computer, ring-style barcode scanner, and a headset, so workers can easily access orders and pick lists from their device, receive audio and visual guidance to the correct location along the most efficient pathway, and confirm correct picks using their finger-worn scanner.
Similarly, as we’ve seen with deployments of the groundbreaking TC8300 touch mobile computer from Zebra Technologies, you can combine touch mobile computing and barcode scanning in an ergonomic device that boosts worker productivity by 14% while enabling 40% faster data entry with 60% fewer errors.
Given numbers like these, it’s no wonder that 87% of decision-makers plan to accelerate the timelines of their warehouse modernization projects within three years, and 87% agree that new warehouse technology is needed to be competitive in the on-demand economy.1
Thankfully, modernization and technology adoption have become much easier in recent years, particularly since the vast majority of workers are already familiar with touchscreen computers from using smartphones and tablets at home. This makes the transition to digital technologies remarkably easy, requires minimal training, and actually provides a competitive advantage by making workers’ jobs easier and more attractive to prospective employees.
Modernization is also easier on budgets these days as well. With the explosive growth in digital and mobile warehouse technologies over the past decade, solutions have become more affordable due to increased demand and efficiencies of scale. Even sophisticated technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification), which enable real-time inventory tracking and locating, have become much more affordable in recent years.
Additionally, if you invest in purpose-built warehousing solutions, which are designed and engineered to be extremely rugged and durable, your total cost of owning technologies will be very manageable due to the years of dependable service you can get out of them without expensive damage and repairs. Also, manufacturers such as Zebra are further helping the cause by allowing warehouses to trade in existing barcode scanners, mobile computers, or barcode label printers they may already be using, in exchange for rebates toward the cost of purchasing new devices.
If you’re concerned about your warehouse’s ability to keep up with growing demand, meet customer expectations, and maximize the efficiency and accuracy of your operations and workforce, then now is an ideal time to explore warehouse technologies and how they can help you upgrade your performance.
To learn more about the possibilities and specific ways that small- and medium-sized businesses are successfully transforming their warehouses, connect with our technology experts at Vantage ID. We’d be happy to share some case studies and the latest numbers on how and where companies are making smart investments in technology, and we’d love to explore which moves might pay off the best for your business. Contact us now to get started.
- Zebra 2027 Warehouse Vision Study: Dynamic Markets Demand Warehouse Agility