Over the last year, retailers have had their resiliency and supply chains tested in response to COVID. As online orders surged with stay-at-home mandates, companies struggled to meet demand with a decreased workforce and broken supply chain. Over a year later, as cities open back up, many retailers are wondering "what's next?"
handheld devices in retail
With more retailers embracing eCommerce and the omnichannel experience, warehouse sizes are becoming more dynamic. There are massive warehouses like Walmart’s latest 630,000 square foot distribution center, and smaller modular warehouses called micro-fulfillment centers, built for the sole purpose of fulfilling in-store deliveries and curbside pickups.
The rise of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), microfulfillment centers, and eCommerce has many companies rethinking their fulfillment strategies to ensure they remain competitive. Speed, accuracy, and efficiency issues compound as order increase, making it more essential than ever for companies wanting to increase business to adapt.
Order picking accounts for 55% of the annual $60 billion spent on warehouse operations in the United States. Reducing human-induced errors in the order fulfillment process can save warehouses and distributors significant costs. We investigate a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-based verification method wherein wearable RFID scanners, worn on the wrists, scan passive RFID tags mounted on an item’s bin as the item is picked.
This method is used in conjunction with a heads-up display (HUD) smart glasses to guide the user to the correct item. We compare this RFID verification method to pick-to-light with button verification, pick-to-paper with barcode verification, and pick-to-paper with no verification. We find that pick-to-HUD with RFID verification enables significantly faster picking, provides the lowest error rate, and provides the lowest task workload.
Wondering how to improve your warehouse pick rate? You’re not alone. As eCommerce and retail grows, every warehouse wants to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their employees by moving the needle on warehouse picks per hour.
It might be time to look at your technology.
If you’re using clipboards and old school scanners, it’s more than likely reaping havoc on your picks per hour. It’s the least efficient method of warehouse picking because pickers are forced to look back and forth between inventory and paper to get and confirm the product info, opening them up to errors.
We’re currently in the middle of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, even with vaccines being rolled out as fast as possible, there are new strains that have been proven to be more infectious than the first strain.
Retail workers and other customer-facing employees in retail outlets stores are at an even higher risk of infection, not just from the micro-droplets, but also from contact with common surfaces. Studies have shown that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for as long as 3 days.
This means that the handheld devices used in retail stores are increasing the risk of retail workers being exposed to infection in the workplace. These surfaces are dangerous to both employees and customers.