Warehouse performance continues to evolve into a more complex, multi-faceted measure. Performance today embodies not only the traditional measures of accuracy and cost-efficiency, but also responsiveness and agility. The importance of these capabilities has increased due to some interesting competitive pressures in the market. And the stimuli continue to change, gradually shifting the relative importance of these capabilities.

Fulfillment operations differ according to many criteria such as load size, product range, service expectations, etc. But the results of the survey do identify some trends. The increased importance of fulfillment adaptability is the most notable change when comparing the relative importance of 3 years ago to that of today. That is understandable given the widespread supply chain disruptions that occurred due to COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and global trade tensions. However, I believe that adaptability will continue to increase in importance due to incremental changes driven by technology advancements and the rapid spread in that technology (technology diffusion).

There were a range of reasons given as to “why” a given performance objective increased in importance. But there were two common threads. The reasons boiled down to two main themes:

The comments that point to lost revenues further support my opinion that warehouse operations have become more important in the customer experience and as a result have a direct effect on sales. Examples include the following:

The data suggest that the dimensions and the degree of complexity within fulfillment operations have increased. Uncertainly is also elevated due to the recent widespread disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and global trade relations. Executives appear to be looking at the environment with three eyes – one on the problems of the recent past, one on the opportunities of today, and one on the potential hurdles in the future.

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