Improvements to the US economy have resulted in increased warehouse activity (through boosted demand) and a decrease in unemployment numbers. As a result, warehouses are battling a serious labor shortage as hiring needs surge. Across the board, organisations are struggling to attract talent for warehouse positions, and job applicant numbers have dipped significantly. The Labor Department reported that the warehouse and storage sector added over 52,000 jobs over the last 12 months, but according to ARC Advisory Group, 50 per cent of open warehouse positions today receive fewer than five applicants.
The increased number of warehouse positions is due in large part to the explosive growth of direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, with 81 per cent of consumers planning to purchase from a DTC brand over the next five years, according to the Diffusion 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index.
This growing sector of retail, with its faster delivery times and constantly growing number of small e-commerce orders, is putting new demands on warehouses that were originally designed to fulfill fewer, larger wholesale and/or retail store replenishment orders. Thus, the incorporation of machines and automation that can assist and augment human workers has become critical in distribution facilities.