What will the warehouse of 2020 look like?

Zebra Technologies

Friday, 23 September, 2016

Zebra Technologies Corporation has released the Asia–Pacific results from its latest Warehouse Vision Study. The global survey compares input from over 1000 IT and operations warehouse professionals from retail, manufacturing, logistics, transportation and wholesale distribution sectors on expectations for 2015 through to 2020.

The study shows that local enterprises are expected to increase the number of warehouses as global online sales continue to grow. Surveyed warehouse executives say they plan on equipping staff with new technologies to meet the needs of increasing shipment volumes.

In Asia–Pacific, 74% of respondents have plans to outfit their warehouse staff with technology, specifically to raise investment in the Internet of Things (72%), barcode scanning technologies (70%), tablet computers (69%), big data/data analytics (67%) and warehouse/truck loading automation (64%) in the next five years.

Half of respondents say warehouse investments are mainly driven by the need to reduce transportation costs, while 41% demand shorter delivery times and 38% see the need to accommodate new supplier and trading partner locations. Other factors include change to inventory policies (33%), talent/skill shortages (28%) and omnichannel pressures (21%).

From 2016 until 2020, companies surveyed expressed expansion plans in terms of total volume of items shipped (74%), automation of processes (69%), annual inventory turns (64%), number of stock keeping units (SKUs) (57%) and employees (56%).

Currently, 81% of respondents are using legacy warehouse management software (WMS), and this number is projected to drop by half to 40% in 2020. By contrast, full-featured WMS and real-time location systems (RTLS) will grow in usage by an average of 29% in five years.

Executives expect to see growth in percentage of inbound items that will be barcoded in the next five years, from 59% to 84%. In inventory management, 86% of respondents said they will use mobile handheld computers and tablets with real-time access to WMS, while 79% of them plan to use RFID-equipped solutions. Only 24% of those polled expect to continue using pen and paper in 2020. 

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