‘Click and Collect’ or O2O (online to offline) is the latest trend to emerge from the rise of the omni- channel supply chain in the retail industry. This new addition to consumers’ mounting shopping wish list — which now features shopping online, overnight or same day delivery, distribution to their home or a traditional bricks and mortar store for pick-up, as well as exchange or returns in store — is a strong indicator that consumers now have fully taken charge of the retail world.

The attraction of ‘click and collect’ for consumers is that it opens up an extra option for purchasing goods, which gives them the freedom to collect their orders in-store at their own leisure, as opposed to feeling restricted by the need to be at home or work when their delivery arrives. However, already faced with the challenge of fulfilling consumer demands for next-day single order deliveries that are tracked at every stage in the supply chain, retailers are now having to introduce new processes that facilitate ‘click and collect’.

The big challenge for retailers is choosing technologies that are capable of backing new processes that ensure they cater to ‘click and collect’ as well as an ever expanding list of consumer expectations in a way that ensures customer satisfaction and loyalty. For many retailers, the first priority is concentrating on achieving optimal visibility, accuracy, productivity and flexibility in their distribution centre (DC). This is because the DC is the first and vital stage in the omni-channel supply chain, which has a chain reaction effect on each and every sale. The second step is looking at extending DC processes and technologies into retail stores to achieve a seamless supply chain and shopping experience for online and in-store shoppers alike.

Voice technology has already proved it can deliver improved results and a fast return on investment in DC environments and now is being increasingly recognised as a good extension for omni-channel requirements. Five tips for retailers looking to roll-out voice in an omni-channel environment include:

1. Taking voice beyond picking in the DC

Traditionally, voice found a niche in order picking in the DC. However, many DCs have applied voice technology’s benefits of visibility, accuracy, productivity and flexibility across other DC tasks and workflows such as cycle-counting, receiving, dispatch, put-away and replenishment. This significantly boosts the efficiency of the DC across the board, as well as offering the advantage of receiving an increased return on the DC’s original investment in voice technologies.

2. Voice can handle both online and store orders

The flexibility and scalability of voice helps retailers meet the requirement of running two types of DCs in one – online and store order fulfilment. While voice has long been used to manage bulk orders for hundreds of retail stores, it is now also being used to accurately and quickly pick and dispatch thousands of single-item orders to homes, workplaces and stores for pick-up.

3. Voice helps manage changing demand and traceability

Training workers on voice is much faster when compared with other technologies used in the DC, therefore it is much more efficient when bringing in seasonal workers during peak periods. Additionally, when voice is used across the DC, managers have real-time information at their fingertips and can easily move workers to different areas of the DC during the day based on demand. This higher DC efficiency and productivity means store and online orders are not delayed during peak periods such as holiday seasons and retailers are capable of promising to give shoppers what they want, such as same day delivery or ‘click and collect’.

The real-time information voice provides also allows retailers to keep shoppers happy by informing them about where their order is up to at every stage in the supply chain and when it will be delivered to their home, workplace or retail store for collection.

4. Moving voice in-store

Once retailers realise the benefits of voice in their DC they can then assess whether integrating voice to their in-store operations would be advantageous. Grocery is one section of the retail industry that is currently actively deploying voice in-store to increase the productivity of workers who pick online grocery orders and to help guide them through more complex stages of picking (the need to pick from not only shelves but also frozen or chilled products that have different storage requirements). Grocery stores are also using voice to manage prioritisation of shelf restocking and other tasks such as labelling and pricing.

5. Voice is ready for the unpredictable omni-channel

With the rise and evolution of the omni-channel, retailers don’t know what the future of the industry looks like or even what might happen in the next few years. In the face of this unpredictability, voice offers retailers a highly adaptable and scalable technology that can go wherever the omni-channel takes them.

Becoming more efficient across the central aspects of their businesses, will allow retailers to meet the demands of consumers both now and into the future. Equally, the technologies managers invest in today need to offer the flexibility to meet today’s and tomorrow’s business needs.

Further information: Brian Lang – brian.lang@dematic.com – (+61) 02 9486 5538

About Honeywell – Vocollect Solutions :Honeywell is a leading provider of innovative voice technology solutions, saving companies more than $20 billion annually. Every day, Vocollect voice empowers nearly one million distribution center mobile workers worldwide to move $5 billion worth of goods. With a global team of over 2,000 certified professionals, Honeywell helps companies optimize and streamline their workflow processes, provides actionable performance insight solutions, and helps improve maintenance and inspection operations efficiency. Vocollect voice integrates with all major WMS, ERP, materials handling systems, as well as most MRO/EAM solutions and supports the industry’s leading mobile computing devices. For more information, please visit www.vocollect.com.