Amazon's Newest Supply Chain Innovation Will Heavily Depend on Accurate Data Collection

Michael Clark
Wed, Jan 22, 2014

In the quest to reduce shipping times and improve e-commerce in the consumer-driven supply chain, Amazon is planning to send products to customers before they have even ordered them. The company recently gained a patent for anticipatory shipping, sending items to shipping hubs in areas where the company believes the merchandise will be ordered from, according to The Verge.

Obviously, Amazon won't just be guessing. The company will analyze customer data for prior purchases, searches and wish lists. It will even monitor in real time how long a customer's cursor hovers over an item online and begin the delivery process before the customer has actually clicked the link to buy. The plan is the most recent in a number of tactics Amazon has considered in its efforts to reduce shipping times, including Sunday delivery and even drone delivery.

E-commerce is proving to be the preferred method of purchasing a number of products for some consumers. While demand for gifts is usually highest around the holidays, it is increasing year-round. Even companies with established brick-and-mortar locations offer extensive purchasing options online, and the technology at distribution centers will need to keep pace.

Real-time Data Collection Can Improve Warehouse Production
Increased consumer demand means more activity in the warehouse and an increased chance of errors. Data collection software can help a distribution center meet new demand by supplying information about inventory, worker production, tracking supplies and orders throughout the supply chain. Real-time collection of this data helps the distributor or manufacturer respond to the quickly changing demands of e-commerce.

Voice-Picking Software Can Reduce Errors
Another way to improve productivity in the warehouse is to use solutions that allow employees to pick products using their voices. Employees work faster and errors are reduced to almost zero with verbal check digits. The increased interaction with the system using one's voice also greatly eliminates the opportunity for side conversations that can reduce productivity and increase accidents.

A distribution company does not need to be considering predictive order filling to benefit from new technology. Reducing the paper trail historically associated with tracking orders in a warehouse and collecting more data can improve any operation. Data collection solutions that integrate with the existing ERP also provide warehouse information that can be used across the business. A company can determine how different suppliers, changes in demand and even the processes of certain departments impact the bottom line.

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