How Virtual Assistants Add Real Value in the Warehouse

ISVs can design solutions that help warehouse teams enhance their performance by giving them instant access to data and analytics insights.

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Virtual assistants help businesses across vertical markets meet their customers’ demands. Chatbots represent a vibrant segment of the technology sector. Markets and Markets predicts the global chatbot market will expand at a 23.3 percent CAGR, growing from $5.4 billion in 2023 to $15.5 billion by 2028.

While many people see virtual assistant and chatbot use cases in customer service and engagement, they are not just for customer-facing processes. Virtual assistants and chatbots bring value to many applications in warehouse operations, for example, providing shipment information in real time, optimizing shipments based on weights and prices, managing fleets and staff, and streamlining warehouse picking and packing processes. Deploying chatbots can keep warehouse staff connected, informed, and up to date on many crucial functions. A chatbot can tell the forklift operator where a material or product is, down to the section, shelf, or bin. Chatbots powered with artificial intelligence (AI), including generative AI and predictive analytics, can provide a detailed account of current stock, orders, distribution capacity, and employee workloads. They can also assist in forecasting demand.

Virtual Assistant and Chatbot Advantages for Warehouses

Warehouses that deploy virtual assistants and chatbots see measurable ROI:

      • Efficiency

Virtual assistants and chatbots powered by AI streamline access to data. They can search or analyze large amounts of data much more quickly than a human employee can, giving warehouse workers on-demand access to information that can help them work more efficiently and productively. When integrated with the warehouse management system, the operation can automate processes, immediately sending work orders when one task is complete so employees can begin on the next without delay.

      • Optimal Labor Allocation

AI-powered chatbots seamlessly exchange information among team members. Systems can factor in where employees are working to eliminate wasted steps. Virtual assistants also eliminate time-consuming, error-prone paper-based processes.

      • Cost Savings

Streamlining workflows with virtual assistants saves time, whether employees are picking or packing orders or taking inventory. When employees are more productive, it’s possible to minimize overtime or even schedule fewer employees per shift. The result is more control over labor costs.

      • Enhanced Management

AI-powered virtual assistants can also help managers maintain visibility over operations and their supply chain and make informed decisions. By asking a question, managers can immediately check inventory levels, update work based on inbound shipments, track orders, and adapt warehouse storage based on evolving inventory levels.

Enhancing Functionality with Integrations

Virtual assistants and chatbots can provide even more value when they’re part of integrated systems leveraging other technologies, such as:

      • IoT

When integrated with data from other connected devices, such as temperature monitoring systems, product barcode scanners, and freight monitors, the virtual assistant can provide warehouse teams and managers with actionable insights that minimize shrinkage and control costs.

      • Voice Recognition

Chatbots and virtual assistants that leverage voice recognition allow users to speak their queries instead of having to type them. This allows them to keep their hands free while they work, increasing productivity and safety.

      • Big Data Analytics

Leveraging data from various input sources aids warehouses in decision-making about current work and using historical data to optimize their processes for greater efficiency and to meet customer demands.

Opportunities for ISVs

As much value as virtual assistants and chatbots can provide to warehouse teams today, there’s more on the horizon. ISVs can develop solutions that are more intuitive and accurate as machine learning (ML) advances. Accessible solutions that combine text, voice, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) are on the horizon. Supply chain blockchain solutions can also integrate with virtual assistants to provide managers with up-to-the-minute data that they can access by just asking a question. Furthermore, intelligent systems can learn what’s important to users and provide alerts when they detect a shipment excursion or a data anomaly.

Explore the possibilities, determine the options that will offer your market with the most value, and bring them to market.

Kelly Allred

Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.


Zebra Workstation Connect
Kelly Allred
Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.