What is in this article?:
- Back to Basics: The Ergonomics of E-Commerce Fulfillment
- 21st Century Automation
The e-commerce market continues to grow rapidly and is a bright spot for the retail industry. According to Forrester's U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2011-2016, U.S. consumers have already spent $226 billion online this year, and are expected to spend $327 billion in 2016. In addition, the "Web 2.0 era" of the Internet inspired consumer expectations of ordering an item online one day and then quickly receiving it on their doorstep.
To handle "click and get" consumer e-commerce demand, distribution centers are transforming into the primary connection between company and customer, adding additional strain on already busy facilities. It's important that these new strains do not diminish the value of a satisfied and productive workforce. Satisfied workers are integral to maintaining a successful fulfillment center, and companies must place a high level of importance on environmental conditions and concerns that can impact workers' quality of life. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Service Research found that companies that attend to employee satisfaction can improve internal morale, reduce turnover and enhance customer satisfaction.
Wear and Tear
Order fulfillment is a physically demanding career that involves repetitive movements such as lifting, carrying and bending with the specifics of e-commerce selection adding more pressure. In larger warehouse facilities with traditional operations, order pickers can end up walking more than 15 miles each day on hard surfaces. Even in smaller distribution centers, where pick-to-belt systems are installed, operators can walk up to five miles over the course of a shift. These requirements are physically taxing, and fatigued workers are less efficient and more prone to error. As workers age, excessive bending and stretching can lead to higher rates of injury and associated workman's compensation expense.