How Android is Modernizing Warehouses for the On-Demand Economy

  • November 05, 2018
  • Zebra Technologies Corporation
  • Feature
How Android is Modernizing Warehouses for the On-Demand Economy
How Android is Modernizing Warehouses for the On-Demand Economy

By Mike Devine, Senior Director of Intelligent Edge Solutions, Zebra Technologies

E-commerce is booming globally. The increasingly higher expectations of smartphone-savvy, always-connected consumers have urged retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies to collaborate hand in hand to meet the growing shoppers’ needs in the on-demand economy.

According to a recent Zebra Technologies study, 89 percent of survey respondents agreed that e-commerce is driving the need for faster delivery. 78 percent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023, and 40 percent anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028. The study also found that inventory allocation, reducing backorders and replenishment efficiency tops the hurdles facing logistics companies with omnichannel fulfilment.

To adapt to those emerging needs and challenges, businesses need to modernize their warehouses and update their inventory management systems. To meet shoppers’ omnichannel product delivery and fulfilment expectations, the warehouse worker needs modern technology that can provide faster performance, increased productivity, and workforce agility.

Most mobile computers in this sector run on the Windows CE or Mobile operating system (OS), which Microsoft plans to stop supporting by 2021. Before these devices become obsolete, it’s time for businesses to understand there is a next-generation platform available for them to easily migrate to while recognizing the benefits necessary to thrive in the on-demand economy.


The Benefits of Android Use in Warehouse Operations

Facing the challenge of upgrading from Windows CE or Windows Mobile, Android has emerged as the platform of choice for a few reasons. First, Android can work with a range of legacy systems. This is very important, especially as the aforementioned Windows products will be phased out over the next two to three years. In this case, companies don’t need to reconfigure back-end systems or re-train operators.

Android is also familiar to most users, as it’s the world’s most widely-used consumer mobile OS. Long gone are the old keypads that warehouse pickers used to input a long string of keystrokes. These can now be replaced by full touchscreens with a graphical user interface (GUI) that is similar to those on consumer smartphones. Not only does this increase productivity, but it can also help reduce errors.

This makes adoption and use quicker, especially among Millennials, a key group within the future global workforce. According to Zebra’s Warehouse 2020 Vision Study, warehouse managers estimate that 50 hours are spent on training for new staff to reach maximum productivity. Warehouse managers hope to reduce training time to 36 hours, a 20 percent productivity increase. Using the devices loaded with a familiar OS like Android can ease the learning curve for workers who are often hired on a casual basis to meet seasonal demands.

Android’s flexibility also enables the creation of tools that not only fortify it with enterprise-grade features but also improve the user experience. An example of this is Zebra’s Mobility DNA suite of productivity, management and developer tools and apps that are designed for integration and business efficiency.

Furthermore, Android offers a secure platform with a strong range of management Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow warehouse IT departments to prevent data leakage and enforce compliance. IT managers can enforce network configurations and apply policies to protect corporate data.

The trend for hackers and viruses to attack Android smartphones and devices in previous years has led to improvements in Android’s security. The current Android platform security ensures devices, data, and apps are safe through exploit mitigation and device encryption. In addition, management APIs allow you to enforce policy controls across your fleet of devices.

With the rapid pace of commerce and heightened shopper expectations, warehouses need to re-evaluate their capabilities for the future. From greater workforce productivity and accuracy in warehouse operations to more robust security and user-friendly functionality, the benefits of Android are clear. By migrating over to Android-based mobile computers, businesses gain a performance edge in managing their inventory more efficiently and accurately so that they can stay ahead of the game and keep up with customer expectations in today’s on-demand economy.

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