One of the key factors for retail business success is warehouse operations. If we have just started a small business and do not have too many kinds of products, a warehouse operation is not hard to handle. But imagine that you run a large-scale business and have over a hundred or thousand kinds of products, numerous ordering transactions every minute, and also many branches. The question is how many workers you have to hire to speed up the delivery process and avoid any mistakes that might happen. And most importantly, don’t forget to think about the cost that you have to pay every month. That’s why many business owners try to step into an AI and data-driven world, which leads them to save costs and gain more profit.
AI never stops learning from new data and is capable of adjusting to any of the requirements. With factors such as labor shortages, epidemics, and business transformation to online platforms, technology has become a game changer that plays a more important role than ever. For example, we deploy automatic machines, robots, and drones to help support the overall warehouse process. We may be familiar with top-tier e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Alibaba, which use automatic technology for up to 70% of their warehouse operations. Another interesting technology is the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) warehouse tracking system. Any item can be scanned to show the source of production, expiration date, etc. from anywhere without the need to touch or see the products, and even if you are not in that area or warehouse, it helps save time and make it easier to manage the warehouse effectively.
For warehouse operations, most of us might rely on a foreman's experience to plan and allocate tasks on work shift hours, the number of orders, and delivery schedule. Although they have many years of experience, mistakes can easily happen. That is why many businesses consider using AI to predict and forecast what might happen to avoid opportunity loss and take care of the delivery issues that can happen in case of overpowering manpower or labor shortage. AI can also evaluate the performance of employees, manufacturers, and products to ensure working standards, leading to cost savings and new product developments in the future.
In addition, AI has the potential to forecast sales in the next month, or even in the long run, by using purchasing history together with popular product trends, the number of customers, weather, etc. to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse management and to reduce the opportunity loss from out-of-stocks and the cost of overstocking. AI will clearly advise us on which products should be stocked and when to order more in each period.
Another interesting use case is to enhance the safety standard in warehouse operations. AI can help us plan on product placement recommendations, including popular products and heavy or fragile products, and can also suggest which product should be placed in the blind spot to prevent unexpected accidents. Advanced Computer Vision can be used with Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) within the warehouse to move products to avoid any obstruction. So, humans and robots can work together smoothly and safely.
From the above-mentioned use cases, you will see the tendency of using AI and technology in warehouse operations, which offers many benefits for businesses in both short-term and long-term operations, such as accurate forecasting to reduce obstacles and mistakes in the process and increase competitiveness for your business. The entrepreneurs will also see the overall business insight, which helps you understand the business situation in order to plan and adjust strategies to serve your services and products to the right target group. Finally, AI will enable you to save business costs and gain more profit in the long run.