“Warehouse modernization” is an evergreen term that businesses use regularly as a reference to their intentions. However, intentions don’t necessarily equate to serious action. While incremental improvements are easily embraced, there are four major improvements that many businesses are less enthusiastic about. These updates aren’t glamorous, but they’re essential for operation continuity and profitability.
In this article we’ll cover the four changes that can no longer be avoided, paying extra attention to the coming end of mobile devices running on Microsoft OS – a major impending event that far too many businesses are continuing to ignore.
Support for the Windows Embedded and mobile operating systems will end on January 1, 2020, and support for Windows Embedded Compact will end a year later, which means that if you’re not thinking about the migration to Android yet, you’re behind.
Relying on legacy solutions for as long as possible isn’t the answer. Old technology makes employees, especially new hires, less efficient because the systems are less intuitive to learn and use every day. Legacy systems are slower and result in more downtime because Windows OS can’t handle modern ecommerce demands. Additionally, they’ll continue to have increased security vulnerabilities as the end of support deadline looms.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Android migration resources you’ve likely heard that
‘End of support’ means that Microsoft will stop issuing security patches and software updates. Any company still running Windows software on its devices will be left with no easy solution to defend their system from viruses, fix software bugs, or add new apps. As a result, developers and device makers need to rewrite their apps for a new OS before the deadline. This can be critical since there are so many devices used in regulated environments.
However, migrating the operating systems is only half the story. Upgrading the warehouse devices themselves instead of just the OS will offer more functionality, easier access to parts, improved business continuity, better battery life, and enhanced worker productivity. In some instances, upgrading devices isn’t going to be an option because replacement parts for older devices are becoming hard (if not impossible) to find, necessitating the switch. Zebra Android devices are a popular choice because they check all the requisite boxes – they have readily accessible parts, are fast-charging, and use interfaces that are already familiar to workers to improve training efficiency.
Efficient Ecommerce Integrations
Mark Wheeler summarizes the current state of ecommerce when he says, “We expect to be able to buy what we want and we expect to be able to buy it when we want it.” As a result, operational demands on warehouses have increased as they try to address evolving consumer expectations for quick turnaround times on many different products. Senior leadership overwhelmingly understands this fact, with 89% of executives indicating that they believe ecommerce is driving the need for faster delivery and transforming the industry as we know it.
The CIN7 team goes on to explain,
Slowly but surely, eCommerce keeps taking bigger pieces of the retail pie. That’s old news by now, but even so, businesses still hit snags in fulfilling online orders. Even mature enterprises are still working out how to keep online orders synced with stock for better fulfillment. That means they’re still developing their warehouse processes, as well as reevaluating their inventory management software.
Process automation across the supply chain improves efficiency while reducing costs, making it a leading focus area for organizations of all sizes. Zebra Android devices accelerate ecommerce order fulfillment, making them a key component for organizations focused on strategic process automation.
Inventory management, multichannel cohesion, and scalable technology solutions will continue to be hot topics in the coming years as ecommerce grows at three times the normal industry rate, bringing it to more than $4.5T in sales globally.
Improved Shipping Logistics
By 2021 there will be an 83% increase in the number of items shipped, making shipping logistics more important than ever before. While parcel rates continue to increase, shipping carrier choices are increasing as well, giving companies more options for getting packages to customers quickly.
In particular, the rise of third-party logistics (3PLs) over the last several decades have given businesses additional possibilities to leverage in the order fulfillment and shipping processes. 3PL use is the best way to improve supply chain efficiency and manage expenses. Newcastle Systems elaborates,
Today’s 3PLs use state-of-the-art technology to further improve supply chain visibility and lower logistics costs associated with carrying inventory... Enhanced integrations allow vast networks to be connected seamlessly, providing real-time information across the organization. As a result, companies using 3PLs remain competitive by staying agile, minimizing supply chain interruptions, and predicting market trends more effectively.
However, incorporating 3PLs into the mix has created the need for a system to organize these additional providers. Transportation Management Systems are the solution – allowing companies to balance shipping costs with delivery options to meet increased consumer demands.
Employee Retention Incentives
Employee turnover is prevalent and costly in distribution centers, warehouses, and manufacturing. Annually, an estimated $11B is lost domestically due to employee turnover, making it a substantial aggregate expense across all organizations.
With a staggering 36% turnover rate, employee retention has become a key focus area in warehouses nationwide. Unfortunately, warehouses struggle to compete for the same workforce in concentrated areas while further waging the difficult battle of utilizing temp workers to meet demand during peak times. Both issues have been exacerbated by additional demand for labor due to ecommerce needs. These hurdles pose a unique challenge that can only be addressed with a comprehensive employee retention strategy.
While higher wages are always desirable, they alone are not enough to increase retention rates. Recent research shows that warehouse retention can be improved through targeted strategies such as:
- Sign-up and attendance bonuses
- Flexible work shifts
- Paid lunch breaks
- Gas cards, lunch stipends, and other regular cost-reducing benefits
- Performance-based bonuses and benefits
Healthy workplace culture is another key to worker retention. Communicating performance goals and measuring progress towards them regularly gives employees a clear idea of what’s expected of them, while recognizing top performers closes the loop. Furthermore, having a management team that listens, job stability reassurance, and a low-stress environment are intangibles that keep employees satisfied with their roles and loyal to their employer.
While each of these warehouse improvements are essential, the migration to Android OS is a time-sensitive change that warehouses need to make immediately. Afterwards, functional ecommerce integrations, enhanced shipping logistics, and customized employee retention measures can be undertaken. Utilizing Android OS lays the critical framework for all other warehouse modernization efforts.