If you think about the purchases you’ve made recently, chances are high that at least some of them were made online. In fact, most Americans now believe that online shopping is the best way to shop, and as manufacturers make advancements in their processing and shipping capabilities, consumers have developed the taste for near-instant gratification: stay at home, purchase online, and you’ll have it within the week. In short, people want what they want, and they want it today.
This is why companies that are able to keep up and provide fast and efficient distribution are seeing success, while those with slower distribution times are less apt to meet the desires of today’s consumers. However, many of the companies most effectively increasing efficiency have adopted voice integrated solutions to stay ahead of their competitors.
Across the board, distribution centers (DC) are growing not just in physical size, but in number of employees. According to VDC, the average DC is 42 percent larger than in 2000, while an average of 287 employees work at each facility, up 15 percent from just last year. Fortunately, there are numerous voice integrated hardware and software solutions that benefit the distribution center.
Gone are the days walking from aisle to aisle – pen and paper in hand – crossing off each item as workers maneuver throughout the warehouse. Today, voice picking can be implemented by “speaking” into DC workers’ headsets, letting them know where in the warehouse to go, and always guiding them along the most efficient routes. Naturally, this constant instruction significantly slashes training times for new employees. In addition, the ability to speak into the headset and receive information allows for employees to move about hands-free, maximizing their ability to work faster and with greater ease. Productivity is further increased since voice picking allows for workers to monitor their progress in real time, notifying managers of any setbacks and highlighting progress.
Working in a traditional distribution center can be demanding, and it often takes a toll on workers’ focus and accuracy. Sending a customer the wrong item or quantity can both be expensive to correct and can produce a negative customer experience. Since people shop online for convenience and speed, mistakes like this can cause them to take their business elsewhere. Voice integrated DCs, however, can immediately notify workers if they pick up the wrong item or don’t select the correct quantity. This can reduce the need for multiple quality control checks, saving the company more time and money – all without compromising customer satisfaction.
Improved Worker Wellness
If you’ve ever been inside a distribution center, you know that they’re loud, bustling spaces. The constant humming of machinery, shouting, and the continual sound of pallets being loaded or unloaded – all echoing throughout. That’s one of the reasons that DCs can also be dangerous, but this is an easy fix with voice integrated solutions. As IoT makes its way into more aspects of distribution, every person and thing is accounted for and tracked, allowing DCs to operate in harmony. Workers can be informed when a forklift is turning the corner they’re approaching, or if they need to take a different route to avoid an aisle being restocked. While some features are still in development, this technology and the principles behind it offer DC workers additional safety and peace of mind as they move through the warehouse.
It’s more important now than ever for companies to lay the foundation for an increasingly technologically advanced distribution environment. E-commerce isn’t going anywhere, and voice integration is the cost-effective solution for staying ahead of consumers’ demands, as well as the competition.