E-commerce trends driving distribution centres’ need for new mobile technology

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The growth of e-commerce increases consumer choice and flexibility, but it also challenges distribution centres to keep pace with consumers' higher expectations for faster and more accurate delivery. Nearly nine in 10 distribution centre operators expect to adopt new mobile devices and voice-direction technology in the next five years to meet that need, according to a survey by Honeywell and YouGov.

The survey of hundreds of IT decision-makers across the US, UK, France and Germany shows that mobile solutions are expected to increase in adoption over the next five years, driven by the need for increased order fulfilment accuracy and improved customer service requests.

With distribution centers losing on average more than $400,000 every year on picking errors, they are looking for a technology edge to improve accuracy and reduce costs. The technologies include mobile computers, printers and scanners featuring more reliable data capture technology, as well as equipping workers with wireless headsets that provide voice direction to improve accuracy and speed.

Technology Keeps Distribution Centres Competitive

Honeywell's survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of distribution centres currently support omnichannel distribution, meaning they have the data capture and asset tracking systems required to fulfil orders both from retailers and from consumers purchasing on-line.

  • Of the countries surveyed, France has the highest percentage of sales coming from e-commerce (54 percent).
  • An average of 84 percent of IT decision-makers agree that data capture technology has made a positive impact on their omnichannel distribution strategy.

Voice Is Strong Differentiator

To complete mission-critical processes and stay ahead of competition, voice technology is an invaluable tool in delivering efficient workflow performance. According to the survey, voice direction – using wireless headsets to direct workers with voice commands – can add one hour of productive time per worker each month.

  • The majority of respondents anticipate transitioning to voice solutions within the next five years, including 94 percent in Germany, 87 percent in the U.S., 82 percent in the U.K. and 78 percent in France.
  • Eight-two percent of IT managers in Germany revealed that if they were adding technology to their distribution centre strategy, voice would have the biggest impact on workflows this year.
  • Nearly 25 percent of distribution center workers around the world do not speak the local language, requiring a need for technology solutions that support multiple languages and facilitate rapid onboarding and training of new workers.

Mitigating the Cost of Mispicks

Survey findings report that the average global cost of one picking error is $59, resulting in distribution centres losing on average more than $400,000 annually on mispicks.
IT decision-makers say the cost of a mispick in the U.S. ranks highest ($67), followed by France ($60), Germany ($52), and the U.K. ($50).

Bruce Stubbs, ‎director of industry marketing, Honeywell Sensing and Productivity Solutions, commented: "Consumers want their purchases delivered as quickly as possible, which puts extreme pressure on distribution centre operators to deliver the right products to the right place at the right time. Connected workers using mobile solutions with data capture technology such as those delievered by Honeywell offer higher accuracy and productivity and have a positive impact on the bottom line."

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