Ensuring Distribution Operations Meets New Customer Demands

Ensuring Distribution Operations Meets New Customer Demands

According to a recent report from Adobe Analytics, the digital economy grew faster than the economy as a whole in March. In fact, ecommerce grew 25% from March 13 – 15 compared to the baseline period of March 1 – 11, driven primarily by online grocery shopping due to the onset of COVID-19.

Another area gaining momentum is Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store or BOPIS. The number of orders shoppers bought online and picked up in-person increased 62% year-over-year during February 24 –March 24, according to Adobe. One expert claims that in-store pickups at some stores are responsible for forty to fifty percent of all recent ecommerce orders.

It is no surprise that consumers have turned to ecommerce more during the COVID-19 outbreak due to social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders. These new safeguards have made online shopping more convenient and, in some cases, the only way consumers can get the products they need.

While many experts are uncertain what the future of retail and shopping looks like when we emerge from the pandemic, there is one certainty: technology-enabled retailers will be better positioned to capture, serve and keep customers. This is particularly true in distribution centers, which have been challenged to respond as never before.

Almost every distribution center operation has been impacted one way or another due to the pandemic. From massive companies like Amazon, which has been triaging distribution center resources by delaying shipments on nonessential goods and limiting how much retailers can ship, to smaller retailers and ecommerce companies struggling to meet new demands that had not been forecast.  Distribution center technology that had been planned for a future investment in accuracy and speed has suddenly become urgently essential to business success and survival.

For example, voice automation consistently helps warehouses operate 30% more efficiently. Voice technology is proven to optimize workflows and employee performance for all distribution center functions. From receiving and put away to packing and loading shipments for delivery (and all processes in between), voice-enabled workflows remove time and errors from warehouse activities. Not only must retailers ensure that supply chains can execute online shipments on time and accurately, but they must also be able to ensure fast and convenient returns processing.

Supply chain analytics are particularly adept at helping distribution center operations react to changing conditions more quickly and adjust staffing as necessary. Voxware’s enterprise supply chain analytics software, VoxPilot, aggregates and analyzes internal and external data sources and presents real-time and past DC activity, predicts future events, and helps users navigate the right course of action to immediately resolve problems that may surface.

VoxPilot helped Puerto Rico Supplies Group address a number of inefficiencies in its distribution operations. Not only did it help improve performance management issues, but it helped them achieve greater productivity numbers. Through VoxPilot’s integration with Puerto Rico Supplies Group’s routing system, the company eliminated manual tasks to reduce routing staff needs by 25%.

Ira Kalish, chief global economist at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, recently authored an article looking at many hypothetical effects of how the crisis may reshape certain aspects of our lives. He suggested that online shopping will become habitual, causing a rise in the demand for distribution centers, transportation services and an increase in related online services.

Forward-thinking retailers who have invested in technology and automation solutions will have a leg up on their competition. Much like the holiday season, consumers are less forgiving of mistakes and delays during critical times, and the companies that meet and exceed customer needs during this period of uncertainty, will build loyalty and lifetime value.

Which path will your organization choose to follow? To learn more about how Voxware can help you automate your distribution operations, contact us today.

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