3 Ways Automation Can Help Your Mid-size Warehouse Grow


3 Ways Automation Can Help Your Mid-size Warehouse Grow

Time to read 4 minutes
Dan Cobb
Dan Cobb
Senior Manager, Industrial Solutions

Warehousing challenges in 2023 and beyond

It will come as no surprise to businesses in the warehousing sector that labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are here to stay and, realistically, for the foreseeable future.

The ongoing challenge for warehouses of any size is finding the balance between low recruitment and high consumer demand.

Warehousing jobs are a hard sell for the upcoming generation of recruits, and that’s not likely to change unless the work itself does.

At the same time, the warehouse industry as a whole is dealing with the growing pains of ecommerce. There were 268 million online shoppers in 2022, and that number will continue to grow.1 Then there’s the popularity of free and same-day delivery, which is ramping up pressure for faster and more efficient order fulfillment.2

What’s becoming increasingly clear is that the industry isn’t just disrupted — it’s evolving, and warehouse automation has emerged as a highly beneficial survival strategy.

Read more: Download the free eBook to learn more about the future of the supply chain landscape

Where does automated warehousing leave smaller businesses?

As more and more corporations embrace these technologies, the warehousing market leans further in the direction of fully automated warehousing solutions.

What does that mean for small and mediums sized businesses?

Large-scale warehouse operations have already embraced warehouse automation to fill their talent gaps and move faster. In doing so, they’re setting the standard for a new normal. SMBs that don’t plan to adapt will get pushed to the margins and, eventually, knocked out of the competition altogether.

Small warehouse automation, big impact

Major businesses may have a head start on warehouse automation, but they don’t have all the advantages in their pocket. SMBs have a unique opportunity to capitalize on explosive ecommerce growth to meet consumer demand in innovative ways.

Warehouse automation benefits that accelerate business growth 

  1. Optimized workflows, high-value culture

    The smaller your staff is, the more overextended they tend to feel. One of the primary advantages of automated warehousing is that it alleviates the mental and physical strain of repetitive tasks. This is true for all warehouses, but in a smaller setting the impact is especially impactful.

    Work-life balance, safety and company culture all rank high for millennial recruits, and these features are ultimately the result a healthy, well-functioning organization. Warehouse automation facilitates that kind of environment without the need for more staff and expensive hiring packages.

    Automated protocols and processes stabilize the day-to-day. Less variability means fewer safety risks that negatively impact employees’ perception of leadership. More importantly, they promote a purpose-driven culture, where employees engage in high-value tasks that involve them more directly in the company’s mission.

  2. Agile inventory control, better customer experiences

    When it comes to warehouse space, bigger isn’t always better. Smaller warehouses tend to be more nimble, and being able to offer a custom approach can be a major advantage.

    As on-demand warehousing and micro fulfillment centers grow in popularity, SMBs are in a position to get creative and fill new spaces in the market. However, pulling it off will require a firm grasp on your inventory.

    Inventory management automation provides highly accurate and comprehensive visibility, in real-time. No Sharpies. No spreadsheets. This not only dramatically speeds up fulfillment (a big pain point for ecommerce), it gives businesses the flexibility to respond to demand fluctuations and corner markets larger competitors may overlook or disregard.

    And in terms of automated warehousing solutions, this is an affordable starting point. Mobile tablets, scanners, and barcode printers streamline the tracking process, from the receiving dock to customer, all at a manageable price point.

    Read more: 6 tools you can expect to see in an automated warehouse

  3. Lower operational costs, accessible sustainability

    When essential tasks can run independently, you’re able to hone your resources more strategically and cut unnecessary costs and waste.

    Warehouse automation enables highly coordinated material handling and optimal use of warehouse space without expanding your labor budget. Apart from protecting your bottom line, these benefits create a framework for sustainability practices without expensive initiatives.

    By reducing employee movements and eliminating needless paper processing or duplication, automation aligns operational efficiency with leaner, greener operating procedures.

Male warehouse employee using computer to print out shipping labels

There is such a thing as small warehouse automation

Businesses seeking an upgrade will find that not all automated warehousing solutions come at a prohibitive cost. There are plenty of options that allow smaller operations to get started and scale with their business growth.

And as more warehouses embrace the trend, more affordable pathways will open. What matters for your business most is how you start this process, not necessarily when. Automated warehousing is only effective if you lay the right foundation for it.

Start the process now

Download this free eBook to learn how you can start automating your small business with simple, practical steps.

Dan Cobb
Dan Cobb
Senior Manager, Industrial Solutions
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