Warehouses and distribution centers have always been a blur of activity. Change is constant, requiring well-choreographed operations to keep everything running smoothly, with associates and equipment working at optimal efficiency.
E-COMMERCE DRIVES GROWTH IN FACILITIES, EMPLOYEES, AND AUTOMATION
With e-commerce, distribution networks stretch from suppliers’ receiving docks to customers’ front doors. Many distribution centers that only handle store replenishment or wholesale distribution are retooling to support e-commerce. They need flexibility to address order profiles that range from multiple pallets to a single item.
And with customer expectations around speed of delivery, more distribution hubs are being built in closer proximity to customers to handle the growing number of e-commerce orders. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Retailers and logistics companies have been opening warehouses at a record pace.”
To add to the complexity, 30 percent of all online purchases are returned, which means that rapid inventory disposition, faster inventory recovery, and more rapid customer credits are essential capabilities for active enterprises.
To support these unique e-commerce order profiles, the number of employees needed on a per-warehouse basis is rising, outpacing overall job growth.4 Making these new employees productive faster and equipping supervisors with mobile technology to keep a growing workforce engaged are imperatives for the modern warehouse.