The Value of Smart Data Capture Technology Amidst Today’s Continued Labor Shortages

Although it’s been over two and a half years since the pandemic began, and consequently, the Great Resignation was sparked, US businesses are still struggling to overcome a significant shortage of talent. Wholesale and retail in particular have experienced an over 3% quit rate since November 2020, and rates hovered close to 4% throughout this past summer. Both industries continue to experience a significant labor shortage – facing more unfilled job openings than there are unemployed workers with relevant experience. If every unemployed individual with wholesale and retail experience was employed, the industry would still only fill roughly 70% of vacant jobs.

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Some industries have fared better than others amidst these deficits. Business and professional services, for example, have maintained lower unemployment rates and above average hiring rates, which could mainly be attributed to the greater availability of remote work opportunities in the industry.

As companies toil with trying to fill today’s labor gaps, current retail, logistics and supply chain workers are left struggling to compensate for the shortages. This is compounded by supply chain disruptions or product shortages, and a volatile economic situation with rising fuel and commodity prices.

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Workers are dissatisfied with outdated solutions   

Data capture, or the process of collecting information from the physical world and transforming it for a computer to use, has been an operational pain point for years. It can significantly impact company efficiency, employee engagement, and customer experience. Unfortunately, the majority of frontline workers today report they lack the tools they need to perform data capture tasks like inventory and shelf management, stock taking, and receiving goods effectively. We’re in the era of big data, and current tools cannot process the volume of data that companies wish to collect and access.

At the same time, data capture is lacking automation, and repetitive tasks are often still conducted manually. Workers can spend hours scanning thousands of boxes, pointing a handheld device hundreds of times at various items, and crossing things off lists because they don’t receive an automated alert if something is missing or mistakenly delivered. The end-to-end workflow is left inefficient, error prone, and tedious.

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Today’s labor shortages are also raising employees’ expectations, and it’s becoming riskier to rely on their willingness to use traditional solutions and perform cumbersome tasks. Additionally, every hour spent on inefficient data capture takes an hour away from value-added activities like delivering excellent customer service, which has become more important than ever to maintain customer loyalty.

Smart data capture technology is here to help 

Fortunately, new smart data capture solutions are automating workflows, easing labor-intensive processes and upskilling employees.

Smart data capture solutions allow workers to scan numerous objects at once and can capture data from barcodes, text, IDs, or objects. They enable smarter and faster decision making by providing workers with immediate, real-time insights. As a result, by shifting time-consuming tasks to smart data capture technology, employees are equipped with the time and accurate information they need to prioritize customer experience.

For retail and logistics enterprises specifically, there are smart data capture solutions available to help optimize current labor resources and maximize efficiency for example by addressing entire counting workflows like receiving, stock taking, and cycle counting.

Smartphones and other devices enabled with Scandit Smart Data Capture can scan up to 3 times faster than dedicated devices and speed counting workflows by up to 10 times with MatrixScan Count. Frontline workers are empowered to locate, track, and decode multiple barcodes simultaneously and receive real-time feedback along the way to ensure accuracy at every step – reducing human error.

When asked about their least favorite task, 31% of former retail frontline workers stated inventory counting and stock taking. Beyond the tediousness of these responsibilities, accuracy in counting and data capture is critical for logistics and retail companies to operate successfully, whether in the warehouse, unloading goods, or keeping track of inventory in-store.

Additionally, not doing “meaningful work” is one of the top reasons why workers have been leaving their jobs in the retail and logistics sectors during the Great Resignation. With the importance of employee retention at a near-all-time high, automating counting workflows through smart data capture technology can offer a better day-to-day experience for workers.

Technology that’s ready for the unpredictable 

Not only is there no end in sight to today’s labor shortages, but economic tides change fast, and businesses must be ready for a potential recession as well. It has become crucial to look for customer-employee centric solutions that increase efficiency and productivity, while still ensuring operational accuracy.

By equipping employees with smart data capture-enabled devices and products, companies can lighten workflows, reduce the chance for human error in tedious tasks, improve employee experiences and enable them to focus on more valuable activities like satisfying customer demands.

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In an understaffed, always bustling and constantly changing world, smart data capture can successfully tackle some of the most pressing industry challenges and empower employees for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.

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