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3 Surprising Findings from Zebra’s 2021 Warehousing Vision Study

Written by Tim Ingles
September 1, 2021

Overview

  • Zebra Technologies has released its latest Warehousing Vision Study, a survey of 1,403 IT and operational decision makers.
  • The study highlights three surprising findings: delivery as a top driver for growth, continued labor challenges despite warehouse expansion, and a lack of inventory tracking.
  • Warehousing companies looking to remain competitive need to invest in automation technology like mobile barcoding now.

Zebra Technologies’ latest Warehousing Vision Study uncovers shared issues and opportunities for growth among executives.
Zebra Technologies’ latest Warehousing Vision Study uncovers shared issues and opportunities for growth among executives.

Zebra Technologies recently released its latest Warehousing Vision Study. This global research study analyzes warehousing trends and challenges as reported by 1,403 IT and operational decision makers across numerous industries.

Here are the top three surprising findings from the report:

1. Faster Delivery is Top Driver

The Amazon Effect continues to revolutionize warehousing. Consumer need for 24/7 product search and purchase, coupled with fast delivery, is the new normal. Warehouses that can’t deliver this quick turnaround are getting left behind.

Because of this continuing trend, 40% of warehouse executives surveyed cite faster, more transparent delivery as their top driver for growth. One-third of these state that this trend is directly impacting their strategy and expansion plans.

Field mobility solutions that support more effective inventory management, quick turnaround, transparency will be key.

2. Labor Challenges Persist as Warehouses Increase

Securing well-trained, experienced warehouse staff remains a persistent issue even as the number of global warehouses is set to increase.
Securing well-trained, experienced warehouse staff remains a persistent issue even as the number of global warehouses is set to increase.

Sixty percent of warehousing executives surveyed also report that labor recruitment and labor efficiency are additional top challenges. This comes at the same time that warehouse operations are expanding globally. In fact, 87% of warehouse executives are planning to expand their warehouse size by 2024. Eighty-two percent plan to add more warehouses in this same time frame.

In order to meet this increased demand while facing workforce shortages, warehouse executives must prioritize warehouse automation technology that boosts accuracy, efficiency, and productivity.

See Also: Labor Challenge or Labor Opportunity? »

3. Less Than 1/3 Track Inbound Items

Despite recognized needs for faster delivery and a more productive workforce, less than one-third of those surveyed report carton and item-level barcoding of 75%+ of their inbound items.

Automation technology like mobile barcoding can fill this gap. Mobile barcoding, for example, captures data to track inventory end-to-end from raw materials to delivery. Such technology is key to reducing errors, augmenting a reduced workforce, and providing the transparency today’s consumers expect.

Some respondents do indicate plans to increase mobile barcodes, labels, and stationary printers.

What’s Not Surprising: The Need to Automate

Because of these challenges, 80% of warehouse executives surveyed plan to invest in new technology to stay competitive. Sixty-one percent plan to rely on a symbiotic human-automation relationship to improve warehouse efficiency in the long-term.

The need for warehouse automation is urgent, as indicated by the Vision Study results. Those who fail to invest in automation technology like mobile barcoding now will quickly fall behind.