(Continued on from Part 1 of our NRF 2016 highlights blog)
Honeywell, an AIDC veteran, this year introduced a range of solutions which showcased its strong initiative behind the Honeywell User Experience. Focusing on the user’s requirements and maximizing businesses’ productivity, the company showcased a number of mobile computing, scanning and printing solutions this year at NRF. For scanning, Honeywell introduced the 1602G companion scanner, the Solaris 7820 stationary scanner (aimed at the growing SMB space), as well as two new wireless voyager pistol grip scanners – the 1202G and 1452G. In addition, the company continues to see success of its Youjie brand of scanning solutions and plans to expand its product line to new emerging markets beyond China in 2016. For printing, following the same initiative of customer centric design, the company introduced the Honeywell PC42t is a light industrial label printer developed for price sensitive emerging markets in Asia and around the world. An additional observation, is Honeywell’s greater emphasis around software solutions and leveraging some of its existing software assets – particularly from its Vocollect solutions – to address a broader scope of workforce management requirements. The emphasis here will be on better understand the performance of individual workers and the opportunity to identify and address potential bottlenecks and performance issues.
Opticon Inc. is an auto ID and data capture vendor that is well known for its prominent 1D laser and 2D imager scan engines. One of the earliest players in the mobile barcode scanning space, the company this year showcased a range of companion scanning solutions including its new Bluetooth ring scanning accessory and a pair of new scan engines - the MDI3100 (Imager) and the MCD200 (CCD). In addition, the company showcased its color digital signage and electronic shelf labeling (ESL) solutions.
Infinite Peripherals, a leading mobile scanning/mobile peripherals solutions provider showcased its full line of scanning and payment capture solutions at NRF 2016 as well as introducing its new Mobile POS solution line of mobile scanners including the Infinea mPOS sled, the Infinea mPOS flat, and its Omni kiosk solution. The company has had a successful 2015 serving major companies including United and JetBlue and the introduction of its mPOS line of solutions will continue to drive growth for a company that is riding the growing consumer device adoption in the enterprise space. The company also highlighted its Device Management platform through which businesses can monitor devices and metrics such as battery life and use through a dashboard, the solution will appeal to companies, especially those who are concerned about the ROI of their investments in the store.
Intelligrated, a major material handling solutions provider this year showcased how the efficiency of the warehouse can be brought to the inside of the store. Key offerings demonstrated at NRF such as its Intelligrated voice solutions and Labor Management System, highlighted how technologies in the warehouse such as voice can be used in store for order fulfillment by store associate for application such as click and collect. In addition, with analytics being a major theme this year across companies, Intelligrated’s LMS solution is flexible to be used for the warehouse or retail to track employee performances and enhance workforce productivity in both the front and the back of the store.
Founded in 2009, Scandit is a mobile image processing and cloud computing software vendor. This year at NRF the company highlighted its Scandit applications which leverage its patented SDK to improve workflows in the front and back of the retail. Applications such as its inventory management, asset tracking and clienteling applications enable retailers to leverage intuitive consumer devices to enhance the productivity its employees. In addition, the company introduced its Scandit Case, a rugged peripheral which enables forward facing scanning to create an all in one solution for customers to use without concerns about dropping the device by mistake. The case is able to achieve forward facing scanning by redirecting the smartphone camera and LED light for illumination, aiming and image capture. The case has no additional electronic components but has a dedicated button to press for barcode scanning.
Zebra Technologies is a global leader in the auto ID and data capture solutions market. At NRF 2016, Zebra showcased solutions to make businesses more productive and connected than ever before. From a data capture perspective, Zebra showcased its latest personal shopping solution, the MC18 and its new RFD8500 RFID/1D/2D scanning sled.
The MC18 is for consumer applications such as self-checkout, special offers, and price checks. For sales associates, the PSS can be used for inventory management, price checks, stock look-ups, and queue busting. Zebra’s PSS solution can scan 1D and 2D barcodes and are connected through wireless 802.11n for real-time information and data transfer enabling retailer to engage customer preferences, and tastes to increase cart size and sales.
The RFID/1D/2D scanning sled is Zebra’s first universal scanning sled to enable both barcode and RFID scanning for select Zebra and consumer-grade mobile devices, tablets, and smart phones. The sled is available with just RFID or RFID and Imager so users can easily switch between RFID and barcode scanning modes with the tap of a button. With retailers today carrying a range of both RFID tags and Barcode labels in store, the RFD8500 is a flexible solution engaging the changing needs of the retail space today.
Finally, Zebra Technologies showcased its Bluetooth beacon solution for customer engagement and analytics called the MPact platform. The MPact Customer Experience solution utilizes beacon technology to engage customers via their smartphones and other Bluetooth enabled devices for a more personalized and engaging customer experience. Retailers can use the solution to push deals, offers and personalized messages to customers while also gaining insight into store metrics surrounding customer preferences and habits.
There was a buzz at the 2016 NRF event in New York City where retailers and their solution vendor partners talked about their growing focus on the retail storefront. E-commerce is certainly contributing to a higher percentage of overall sales and deserves the attention from an investment and operational enhancement standpoint; at the same time, however, it will continue to be critical for retailers to enhance customer experience, increase sales, and improve associate productivity in brick-and-mortar establishments. This is all with an aim of giving customers a consistent experience regardless of their retail touchpoint-of-choice.
Retailers are looking at ways to drive success inside the store, evaluating and adopting technologies needed to differentiate in a very competitive environment. AIDC industry veterans – Honeywell, Zebra, Datalogic and NCR – all introduced new scanning solutions expanding their product portfolios, geared at the shifting retail environment. In addition, mobile solutions such as mobile barcode scanners and mPOS solutions are enabling retailers to capitalize on the BYOD trend and consumer grade device deployment in the enterprise. Solutions by Koamtac, Infinite Peripherals as well as Ingenico sought to highlight the growing market for such solutions.
In addition to customer engagement and work flow productivity, NRF 2016 gave rise to increased attention on data analytics and gaining valuable insights from metric captured in the store. Companies including Checkpoint, Tyco, Zebra and others shone the spotlight on new analytics platforms and dashboards which leverage data captured from inside the store to better understand customer shopping habits and preferences while also enhancing productivity of associates in the store.
Finally, retailers are focused on not only attracting customers back to the store but also enhancing their experience there. Companies such as Zebra and Datalogic showcased their in-store personal shopping solutions, which allow customers to carry out self-scanning for faster checkout and fetch improved offers. In addition, VDC also saw an emphasis placed on innovative displays such as Samsung’s transparent display from its SMART Signage portfolio and Opticon’s color digital signage and electronic shelf labeling (ESL) solutions which enhance the customer experience by updating deals and prices in real time as well as provide better visibility into store inventory.
VDC’s analysts this year got a sneak-peek into some of the most innovative solutions available today for retailers to drive valuable change to their businesses. VDC’s observations from some of our meetings at NRF are summarized in 2 blog posts:
Datalogic this year showcased a number of new solutions at NRF including products and solutions in the areas of item recognition, high speed imaging, self-shopping, automated scanning, loss prevention solutions, and mobile scanning. Highlighting its latest scanning solutions, the company introduced its newest line of companion scanners the DBT6400. Available in 3 variations for the retail and healthcare markets the pocket sized Bluetooth companion scanners can pair with any smart device and utilize Datalaogic’s newest OEM linear engine for 1D, 2D barcode scanning and Image capture. In addition, with this year’s theme focusing on workflows inside of the store, Datalogic showcased its latest Joya Personal Shopping System solution which was introduced in April 2015. The 4.3” touch centric device offer wireless charging and wireless communication and are available in handheld or pistol grip form factors. The biggest highlight from Datalogic this year was its new linear Imager scan engine which is capable of capturing both 1D and 2D barcodes, a key development for Datalogic as it looks to lessen its reliance on third party scan engines and target potential OEM opportunities. Late to develop a Android-powered rugged handheld device, Datalogic did announce a 5” device available in early 2016.
Digimarc this year dedicated its booth to highlighting its major partnerships going into 2016 covering vendors, retailers, manufactures and organizations. The company has partnered with all major AIDC data capture vendors including Honeywell, Zebra Technologies, Datalogic and NCR. Its relationship with Wegmans continues as more of its private label products are encoded with Digimarc’s invisible ink technology. Although the mountain facing Digimarc remains formidable the progress is has made over the past several years is impressive. The company’s recently announced relationship with GS1 to provide education, training and access to services to foster the adoption of Digimarc's barcode technology brings with it additional credibility – although both were quick to point out that Digimarc was not a GS1 standard (the technology would need to be open source for that to occur). One concern that we did hear from some testing the technology is that the scanning performance of Digimarc’s code against an all white background/package does decrease. The company also introduced its new Digimarc Discover app, capable of scanning 1D, 2D as well as the Digimarc barcode through the built in cameras of smart devices.
Click here for part 2 of our NRF 2016 highlights blog
What are the technologies defining the warehouse of tomorrow?
Warehouses and distribution centers are increasingly playing a critical role in generating supply chain efficiencies across industries like pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, retail, and fashion, leading to companies such as Amazon and DHL to look for new ways to support their growing warehouse operations through solutions such as robotic picking systems and augmented reality. As such material handling, data capture, order fulfillment, and software technologies are evolving to align with organizations’ vision of the warehouse of the future.
Organizations today are facing a growing number of market pressures to optimize their warehouse. Pressures of faster order fulfillment, error costs, lack of space, and increasing labor costs are just some of the major hurdles organizations today have to cross in a fast evolving industry to remain competitive. Consumers’ access to non-traditional retail channels has transformed logistics, perhaps forever. Operations in the warehouse are transitioning from the traditional pallet level and going smaller into individual item level fulfillment and with it pressures of faster fulfillment and order accuracy. The cost of a single error and its negative impact on customer service is so much more elevated in today’s age of e-commerce and omni-channel retailing. If inaccuracy, delays, and other problems occur, it can lead to customer dissatisfaction, which can result in lost profits for the company.
Exhibit: Expanding Labor Force and Warehouse Establishments
The number of private warehouse establishments in the US alone has risen to 16,556 in 2015 and so has the labor force. As costs and competition continue to rise, decision-makers are constantly looking for new ways to reduce their expenses while addressing the changing needs of the consumer and market.
Technologies such as AR and Robotics have evolved immensely over the last decade and are seeing greater success and deployment in recent years. Below we highlight some of the major technologies which will be shaping the warehouse of the future:
The warehouse of the future will be one that can support the fulfillment needs for multiple channels including brick and mortar, wholesale, home deliveries, and parcel shipments, often simultaneously. Organizations risk falling behind and losing the competitive edge if they do not look to solutions available today that can prepare them for future customer needs and market place.
VDC’s Warehouse of the Future report covers industry trends, market insights (leading applications, drivers, and barriers), and in-depth vendor analysis, and it highlights innovations in solutions across the warehouse and logistics industry.
For more information and insights on this report, please feel free to download the Executive Brief and contact us to learn how to gain access to the full report.
Written by Shahroze Husain and Richa Gupta. For more information, be sure to review our full Warehouse of the Future report or contact us at email@example.com. The author can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org