British Supply Chain Leaders Playing Catch-up with Automation

— Just 17% of UK Retail supply chain leaders have automated more than 20% of their warehouse operations —

LONDON, (October 18, 2022) —  GreyOrange and The Retail Hive, today announced the results of a survey which found that British Retail supply chain leaders are struggling to implement automation in their warehouses with only 17% currently automating 20% of their warehouses. This is despite 98% of supply chain leaders agreeing that warehouse automation is the best solution available to overcome the cost of labour crisis and shortages.

The study, which canvassed the opinions of 50 British supply chain leaders, found that:

  • Just 17% of UK Retail supply chain leaders have automated more than 20% of their warehouse operations.
  • Only 5% see implementing automation as being their top priority, while only 26% view it as a top 3 priority.
  • This is despite 98% of supply chain leaders agreeing that warehouse automation is the best solution available to overcome the cost of labour crisis and shortages.
  • The main barriers to automation according to the supply chain leaders were workload and building the business case to demonstrate the ROI of automation.

James Newman, Head of EMEA at GreyOrange said: “British CSCOs are under constant pressure to innovate and transform the supply chain into a growth generator.  Despite understanding the benefits and need for automation, British supply chain leaders struggle to find an entry point into robotic automation. Part of the issue is the complexity of a staged implementation, as well as being able to demonstrate ROI to the board. In addition, the pace of change means that there is a risk that technology investments can become obsolete before an automation project is completed.”

Respondents ranked ease of integration into existing systems as their number one concern by quite a margin. Both the tech implications in terms of systems integration and the physical demands of installing machinery can cause huge business interruption – but as the stakes rise, the perceived risks of integration are diminishing.

Making the business case for automation is made trickier by the risks of interruption. ‘If I had a green-field site and could start from scratch, the ROI on automation would be much better, but you can’t just close the business for six months to make that work.’ Says Dan Pass, Logistics and Supply Chain Manager at Anne Summers.

Sunil Bhudia, Head of Carrier Solutions at River Island added: “The biggest change for supply chains will be how they are viewed. It used to be called a service, but now businesses are realizing that it’s a crucial cog in the organization and that they need to listen to supply chain people. If businesses want to grow, they need to know they can buy and allocate resources and we have got to be able to chop and change when we come up against various challenges like in the Suez Canal or labour shortages.”

To download the full report, visit https://go.greyorange.com/retail-hive-robotics-in-retail-supply-chain-2022.

About GreyOrange
Disrupting and re-defining fulfilment, GreyOrange Inc. provides a state-of-the-art hardware agnostic fulfilment orchestration platform, GreyMatter™, that responds to customer orders in real-time as well as proprietary and certified third-party hardware. The company’s solutions offer a competitive advantage by increasing productivity, empowering growth and scale, mitigating labour challenges, and reducing risk and time to market while also creating better experiences for customers and employees. Founded in 2012, GreyOrange is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and employs over 800 people with offices and partners across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.greyorange.com.

About Retail Hive
The Retail Hive brings senior retailers together to soundboard, ask questions, benchmark and collaborate as a collective. They do this by providing safe, co-owned and curated environments for retailers and partners to build meaningful relationships, give one another value, identify solutions, and promote best practice.

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