Small and mid-size businesses that expect to compete in today’s fast-evolving e-commerce marketplace need to be nimble when it comes to warehouse and supply-chain operations.
The greater one’s agility, the better the ability to address a plethora of challenges, including sky-high consumer expectations, demanding omnichannel retail strategies, and a severe shortage of qualified labor.
As a result, the pressure is on to rethink warehouse operations, and capitalize on technology to enhance efficiency, boost productivity, speed delivery and lower costs. The explosive growth of e-commerce, which currently accounts for approximately 10 percent of retail sales and is expected to grow to more than 17 percent in the next two years, is having a major impact on decisions regarding the size and location of warehouses. The trend is shifting from huge facilities located near major parcel shippers, to smaller yet taller multi-story operations near major urban areas. The change puts warehouses closer to customers, helps to cut the costs of last-mile delivery, and offers access to a larger pool of workers.
As major strategic assets, warehouses of every size need to be more configurable, adaptive and movable. Determined to get product to customers as fast and cost-effectively as possible, companies are investing in productivity-boosting technologies. Retailers are directing 7 percent of their revenue toward technology and operational improvements, with close to one-third devoted to supply chain operations and other initiatives. In addition, retailers undertaking omnichannel initiatives are putting more than a third of their total mobile device spend into the warehouse and retail shop floor.
Warehouse technology investment includes innovative digital tools such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things — not to mention next-generation versions of stalwarts such as warehouse management systems, barcode scanning and RFID, and mobile and stationary label printers.
Because barcode and RFID labels play essential roles throughout virtually every aspect of supply-chain operations, advanced mobile and stationary label printers can help small and medium-size businesses to strengthen their competitive edge. They can:
To optimize the value of your labeling solution, consider these seven criteria:
Ravi Panjwani is vice president of marketing, product management and business development with Brother Mobile Solutions Inc.
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