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Supply Chain Agility: New Levels of Visibility through Mobile & Wireless Investments

Omni-channel retailing is changing customer expectations and putting pressure on supply chains to develop fast, accurate, and efficient order fulfillment solutions. Here’s a look at the mobile and wireless technologies and services that will enable those processes—and how they stack up today.

By ·

As anyone who oversees order fulfillment and distribution operations (or, who has been delighted by next day delivery of an order placed with Amazon Prime) realizes, e-commerce has raised customer expectations for product availability, delivery times, and costs. As if they weren’t already high enough, these expectations reached new heights last year when Amazon announced the introduction of same-day delivery within certain parts of the United States.

The response by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers seeking to hang on to their customers has been significant investments in omni-channel retail experiences to counter the competition from pure e-tailers. Predictably, these changes are having a profound impact on supply chain and warehousing practices. Scaling e-commerce and omni-channel sourcing for more traditional brick-and-mortar businesses has stepped up the pressure on supply chain processes. Outside the four walls of the warehouse and distribution center, small, last mile delivery carriers—and not the large road fleets—are expected to satisfy the demand for moving smaller orders between forward distribution points and retail stores, introducing a new wrinkle or layer to existing distribution practices. Inside those four walls, there is greater pressure to ensure speedier and more accurate order fulfillment processes than ever before. And, don’t underestimate the additional cost of the labor intensive picking methodologies required to fill thousands of single and multi-line orders compared to picking full cases or pallets of product.

With labor representing the single highest cost for these businesses, retailers and industrial distributors alike have been making significant investments in automation and mobile technologies. What’s more, the right investments have the potential to deliver real benefits: VDC research across a range of companies shows a strong connection between investments in mobile and wireless solutions and improvements to workflow optimization, worker productivity, and task accuracy. At the same time, given the hype around innovations such as wearable devices and Google Glass, supply chain operators are struggling to identify where to invest in order to leverage the advances in mobile computing and communications solutions to address these pressing issues. Based on our survey findings, we’ll examine the three key areas we believe are important to the supply chain operator seeking to leverage the advances in mobile computing and communications solutions. They include: mobile device requirements for next generation investments; the value of voice and wearable technology for warehouse optimization; and the growing need for more advanced mobile services to support tomorrow’s investments.

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By ·
Download Article PDF

As anyone who oversees order fulfillment and distribution operations (or, who has been delighted by next day delivery of an order placed with Amazon Prime) realizes, e-commerce has raised customer expectations for product availability, delivery times, and costs. As if they weren’t already high enough, these expectations reached new heights last year when Amazon announced the introduction of same-day delivery within certain parts of the United States.

The response by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers seeking to hang on to their customers has been significant investments in omni-channel retail experiences to counter the competition from pure e-tailers. Predictably, these changes are having a profound impact on supply chain and warehousing practices. Scaling e-commerce and omni-channel sourcing for more traditional brick-and-mortar businesses has stepped up the pressure on supply chain processes. Outside the four walls of the warehouse and distribution center, small, last mile delivery carriers—and not the large road fleets—are expected to satisfy the demand for moving smaller orders between forward distribution points and retail stores, introducing a new wrinkle or layer to existing distribution practices. Inside those four walls, there is greater pressure to ensure speedier and more accurate order fulfillment processes than ever before. And, don’t underestimate the additional cost of the labor intensive picking methodologies required to fill thousands of single and multi-line orders compared to picking full cases or pallets of product.

With labor representing the single highest cost for these businesses, retailers and industrial distributors alike have been making significant investments in automation and mobile technologies. What’s more, the right investments have the potential to deliver real benefits: VDC research across a range of companies shows a strong connection between investments in mobile and wireless solutions and improvements to workflow optimization, worker productivity, and task accuracy. At the same time, given the hype around innovations such as wearable devices and Google Glass, supply chain operators are struggling to identify where to invest in order to leverage the advances in mobile computing and communications solutions to address these pressing issues. Based on our survey findings, we’ll examine the three key areas we believe are important to the supply chain operator seeking to leverage the advances in mobile computing and communications solutions. They include: mobile device requirements for next generation investments; the value of voice and wearable technology for warehouse optimization; and the growing need for more advanced mobile services to support tomorrow’s investments.

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