Picking Automation to Optimize Omni-Channel Capabilities

  • January 25, 2018
  • Feature
Picking Automation to Optimize Omni-Channel Capabilities
Picking Automation to Optimize Omni-Channel Capabilities

By Vikrant Angia, Founder and CEO, VCO Systems 

Innovative, cloud-enabled light systems for the ecommerce and retail verticals are the fastest growing automation elements to accommodate omni-channel capabilities. Increasing productivity and managing seasonal capacity surges have become a significant challenge for most online retailers. Too many in the picking product space fail to understand the complexities of the fast-changing omni-channel experience and associated total supply chain costs.

According to the Aberdeen Group, companies with an omni-channel customer engagement strategy retain on average 89 percent of their customers, compared with just 33 percent for companies with weak omni-channel engagement. The retail environment is constantly changing, and seamless integration across channels is no longer a luxury, but a necessity due to increasing customer expectations, demand, and competition. No longer are individual channels segregated, such as brick-and-mortar, online, and wholesale. Organizations must be optimized to provide the right product to end customers, across the various channels that share inventory.

Experience in supply chain consulting and solutions is often missing from materials handling vendors. Working to sell product (racking, conveyors, and automation solutions), there is a rush to make the sale rather than conducting the appropriate kaizen inquiry about what solutions will yield the best results, increasing throughput, and improving productivity.



The ability to integrate to any third-party software suite also requires extensive experience. Claims of integration capability often become the source of future materials handling disasters. Vetting vendors and system integrators in the integration arena is essential.

The vast scope of actionable processes includes determining whether to replace existing solutions or wade through countless other options. Bringing vast knowledge and experience of WMS (warehouse management systems), WCS (warehouse control systems), and WES (warehouse execution systems), technology analysts must possess an in-depth supply chain implementation experience. Other elements which require consideration include labor management systems, transportation management systems, and conveyor systems.

The ability to build software solutions that can adapt to material handling flows must be a core competency to leverage hardware using any process flows that can benefit from Light Directed Technologies.



Modularity means that carts can be used as a putwall, repurposed to use as pick carts for ecommerce process flows or used as put carts for Retail Process Flows. The hardware can be reconfigured with relative ease to enable customers to use the same hardware across multiple channels in an omni-channel warehouse.

The modularity helps with handling peak fulfillment demands with the ability to move all pick carts to putwalls during ecommerce peaks (and the reverse).


Flexibility with Devices

Using the latest technology stack which enables a variety of material handing options. Active deployments using both iOS (Apple Products) as well as Android Devices means customers can pick their own mobile devices compliant with their existing technology infrastructure.  

The challenges an omni-channel environment places on retailers requires the right solutions through this rapid transformational change. In conducting hundreds of kaizen events and lean assessments there are specific omni-channel outcomes that must be supported in a wide range of solutions.

Seasonal and unexpected demand can be cost effectively addressed with enabled wireless technology with cloud-enabled capability; mobility is a game-changer helping customers scale efficiently and effectively, without a need for permanent infrastructure.

In the age of consumer demand disruption, flexibility to scale quickly is very important for customer satisfaction and loyalty. Getting merchandise quickly into the hands of customers is critical while the cost of creating permanent infrastructure is unnecessary for most of the year. Moving forward, all supply chain solutions must support enhanced productivity without the high fixed costs.


About the Author

Vikrant Angia is the founder and CEO of VCO Systems. He loves the challenges of streamlining processes, increasing efficiencies and handling rapid changes in demand profiles across multiple channels using Light Directed Technologies. His passion is to design and build products applying latest technologies to fuel easier adoption and access in the Supply Chain Space. Previously, he spent more than a decade consulting, developing, implementing, and integrating Supply Chain Solutions across multiple verticals. 

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