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Goods-to-Person Automation: Growth Driven by E-Commerce

Posted December 20, 2016 in Blog, Goods-to-Person/Reverse Logistics

Goods-to-Person Fulfillment Solutions

Goods-to-Person Fulfillment Solutions

Goods-to-Person Automation: Growth Driven by E-Commerce

By Michael Roe

E-commerce sales on Cyber Monday of this year has been reported as $3.45 billion, a new online record. Adobe Digital Insights reports that shoppers spent 12.1% more this year on Cyber Monday than the previous day in 2015. While these sales were phenomenal, there was a significant problem in out-of-stocks. Adobe reported that for products under $300, 20% were more likely to be out-of-stock.

Out-of-stocks can happen when a celebrity endorses an item, such as Oprah’s Favorite Things. The “Kate effect” – what happens any time the Duchess of Cambridge is seen wearing a brand and fans worldwide seek to emulate her style – has caused many websites to crash from a surge in traffic, plus immediate sell-out of inventory.

With demand fueled by social media, retailers must be prepared to fulfill immediate and unpredictable sales spikes. Even on a “normal” day, e-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment operations must be ready to ship a myriad of small individual orders that comprise a unique mix of products, sizes, colors, and other variables in tight timeframes. Realistically, no matter how capable or dedicated your workforce is, it is not humanly possible to meet these rapacious demands. Without automation, especially Goods-to-Person automation, your warehouse operation has zero chance of attaining the levels of flexibility, speed and accuracy that today’s fulfillment frenzies require.

Why goods-to-person automation?

Goods-to-person is a process where stock is moved to worker for picking, instead of the picker traveling to various locations to fill an order. Goods-to-person processes utilize a variety of material handling equipment to move items to pickers – conveyors, sortation units, carousels or AS/RS, also known as automated storage and retrieval systems.

A properly configured, computer-controlled, fully integrated AS/RS solution is agile, flexible, and versatile. It eliminates travel and search time, eliminates the need for lifting and carrying, steadies workflow, and prevents bottlenecks and service interruptions. It accommodates order and inventory changes on the fly, allowing your operation to respond in real-time. It increases storage density to reduce space requirements and stores, sequences and replenishes stock and manages returns and restocks. Goods-to-person systems are modular, flexible and scalable; improve accuracy and efficiency; and increase volume and throughput.  And in many AS/RS applications, the resulting productivity increases allow warehouses to extend order cutoff times and expand shipping windows, so they are able to ship more orders faster and more accurately.

While AS/RS solutions can include a range of warehouse automation components to accomplish a vast array of tasks quickly, accurately and safely. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty close. You’ll be amazed at what becomes humanly possible.

DMW&H offers goods-to-person material handling systems that speed productivity and order picking for omni-channel retailers. DMW&H has a variety of goods-to-person solutions available to streamline fulfillment operations.