While retailers are experiencing a surge in online sales, the growing challenges associated with meeting consumer demand for immediate, and fairly priced, delivery options remain an ongoing concern for companies across the supply chain. According to research from Honeywell, virtually all (99%) of consumers expect a delivery to arrive within one week of placing an order. In fact, the majority of respondents surveyed (53%) now expect the estimated time of delivery to be under three hours. With delivery proving to be a vital component for converting sales, and meeting customer satisfaction, it is vital for companies to utilise new “connected worker” technologies that help speed-up supply chain operations and remain competitive in a crowded market.
At the order picking stage, warehouses across the country pose significant obstacles for companies that are trying to meet the ever-increasing demands of their customers. Indeed, with the rise of ecommerce comes an increased demand for higher volumes of smaller shipments, highlighting the importance of ensuring full accuracy. With European distribution centres facing an average annual bill of £242,000 as a result of picking errors, it is no surprise that businesses are searching for new technology which will not only help them cope with the high number of orders, but also encourage an accurate and efficient workflow. Recently, the introduction of voice technology within the warehouse has empowered workers, making them more efficient. As some retailers face hundreds of thousands of orders per day, workers can easily begin to feel pressurised, resulting in a lack of productivity. The use of voice technology can typically achieve a 99.99% picking accuracy rate and increase productivity by 30%. Not only does this
give reassurance to the workers, helping them to manage their workload, but also deploys confidence in customers who trust that their purchase will arrive on time. This new technology is also vital at peak times for distribution centres as temporary staff can be easily trained in order to meet the heightened demand.
Just as connected worker technology is boosting productivity and accuracy in the initial stage of the fulfilment and delivery process within the four walls of the distribution centre, it has also revolutionised the dispatch of orders. New delivery driver-focused mobile hardware and software can improve both worker and customer satisfaction. Using handheld computers with intuitive interfaces, drivers can easily navigate through their workday, communicate with dispatchers and access shipment status in real-time. Drivers use these connected devices to scan labels and take pictures of shipments for documentation, all on an app-driven device, as easy-to-use as popular consumer smartphones. Rather having to remember a significant number of tasks associated with pick-up and delivery, workers and businesses gain productivity from more standardised, automated work processes.
As the majority of consumers surveyed (57%) say that current delivery options offered by retailers are unsatisfactory, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that customers are satisfied. The rise in the promise of next-day deliveries are a step in the right direction. However, often many are left disappointed and aggravated when they do not receive their purchase. Increasingly, customers want to know the exact location of their purchase, meaning that they are expecting better communication between each stage of the supply chain.
Combining worker-focused mobile technology, which already provides real time updates of the whereabouts of fleets, along with the Internet of Things logistics firms can now have greater visibility into freight status. Leveraging the IoT, logistics firms can now predict and communicate arrival times to customers in advance, meeting the challenges of next-day deliveries. It is becoming increasingly clear that dispatchers are able to provide an efficient service when there is access to a fast yet concise flow of information.
Connected worker technology does exactly this and is therefore a fundamental reason why such developments should be used across each stage of the supply chain, from quickly and accurately picking the product to ensuring safe and on-time delivery.