Blog Posts Fulfillment Outlook Calls for Automation Technology

Key Takeaways

  • Fulfillment operations must become more productive to handle record ecommerce growth.
  • The industry is experiencing a labor shortage, leaving many operations short-handed.
  • Automation technology, such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can help speed order processing.

Where are today’s merchants finding value in fulfillment automation? A new survey by Multichannel Merchant shows that 27.5% of respondents say it helps to improve operational efficiency, 17.5% see it as a way to reduce headcount or labor dependency, and over half say it is a combination of the two.

In the new MCM Outlook 2021 report, Perry Belcastro, Saddle Creek Logistics’ senior vice president of fulfillment services, and other industry professionals reflect on recent ecommerce growth and how it will spur adoption of automation technology in fulfillment operations moving forward.

Automation Can Help Merchants to Navigate Labor Challenges

Over the past year, it has been challenging to recruit enough warehouse labor to handle the surge in ecommerce order volume.

“Securing sufficient labor to handle increasing volume has always been a big hurdle for warehouses,” Belcastro said. “When you combine that with recent stimulus activity, it definitely has made hiring more challenging across the logistics industry.”

Warehouse automation can help to increase productivity and reduce labor dependency for fulfillment operations. Belcastro said Saddle Creek is investing in automation technology at a new facility in Walton, KY, in anticipation of high ecommerce order volume.

Automated mobile robots, or AMRs, can be a good option because they are more readily available. “An advantage of AMRs is that you can get up and running faster,” he said. “They allow you to be more nimble and more strategic and better manage volume and labor. But you need to make sure you have the right environment and the type of product and operating profile that can benefit from AMRs.”

For more insights, read the full report by Multichannel Merchant.

eCommerce Fulfillment eBook



Related to: Labor Management, Managing Growth, Selling Online