The eCommerce Challenge
For small- and medium-sized distributors and e-tailers, increased sales can quickly lead to growing pains in the warehouse or D.C. when manual pick operations are no longer able to keep up with demand. Once these businesses reach a certain volume of orders, accuracy and turnaround time begin to erode under the strain of the increased workload.
It is not uncommon for these businesses to become quickly overwhelmed by large volumes of small-quantity, mixed-SKU orders and find themselves outgrowing their existing fulfillment capabilities. Suddenly, they are faced with the need to increase space, add employees, and achieve faster turnaround times in order to meet delivery commitments for their customers and carriers.
One way to take these businesses to the next level is by implementing material handling automation. However, implementing traditional automated fulfillment technology is time-, labor- and cost-intensive — and often beyond the reach of smaller companies struggling to meet growing demand. These complex, multi-stage automated systems typically take up a large amount of space (requiring a disruptive re-design of the warehouse facility), require a lengthy planning process, and are very expensive. What’s more, once these systems are in place, additional changes in future demand could require another lengthy and costly redesign.
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