Today, more supply chain improvement technology is available to distribution companies than ever before, but in a fast-changing environment, the fundamental question is: when is the right time to invest in this new technology? Faced with rapid shifting business requirements, some executives may think that it’s better to wait and see what requirements “stick” over the next few years before making new investments. Unfortunately, waiting to deploy technology in the supply chain is one of the worst decisions a company can make.

Here we explore—and debunk—three reasons companies may claim justify waiting to deploy supply chain technology.

1. Improving our existing systems should be enough to hold us over

With ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not surprising that companies may try to do more with less. Unfortunately, optimizing outdated paper-based picking processes is never going to achieve the accuracy and efficiency improvements that voice technology can provide and manually crunching numbers is never going to provide the real-time decision-making abilities that predictive analytics can provide.

2. Our customers will tell us when it’s time to update our technology

Nearly 70% of shoppers indicate that free returns shipping is necessary to complete an ecommerce transaction, and 45% of shoppers who experienced continuous returns problems were likely to stop shopping with a retailer altogether. In other words, customers are already voting with their wallets and choosing to shop with companies that have invested in the kind of supply chain technology that meets their demands. Those that let customers down don’t get a friendly reminder—they lose business.

3. We can wait for the market to decide which technologies to deploy

With a dizzying array of technology options, it’s understandable that supply chain leaders may prefer to wait for others to take on the risk of deploying a new technology. While this reason may have been valid even five years ago, it no longer holds water. Technologies like voice and predictive analytics have already been tested and proven by many businesses, meaning that any additional delay is likely to set a company further behind its competitors.

There’s No Time Left to Delay

Research published by MHI shows that voice technology and analytics already see adoption levels of 20% and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20-25%, which means it’s only a matter of time before voice technology and analytics become standard in the warehouse. Companies that continue to drag their feet will find themselves at the back of the pack.