Sporting Goods Fulfillment: Automation for Multi-Channel Logistics

There is a massive number of products in the sporting goods industry.  For example, a single little league baseball bat design has hundreds of variations based on length and weight.  Each variation is unique, and must be tracked as a separate item.  Just check out this Buying Guide on how to select a little leaguer baseball bat.  You can see how complex the industry is considering the thousands of iterations for this single product line.  

To effectively manage a sporting goods supply chain, you must think strategically.  While increasing touches on the basketball court is a good strategy, the opposite is true for sporting goods fulfillment.  Manual processes require more “touches” than automated processes,  opening the door to mistakes.  Using automation to streamline these labor intensive processes eliminates duplicate tasks and reduces a distribution center’s error rate.  Implementation of a software-driven automated picking system can bring fulfillment accuracy north of 99%, according to a study done by Thomasnet.com.

Automation inside a distribution center geared for sporting goods can include a variety of elements. 

  • Data collection tools: Data collection devices include hand-held radio frequency (RF) guns, wearable RF devices and even mobile phones.With the aid of technology, pick, pack and ship processes can be performed seemlessly and reduce fulfillment errors. 
  • Automated materials handling equipment: Sortation equipment and conveyors significantly reduce the labor requirements inside of the warehouse.  One of the largest time and labor burdens stems from foot travel involved with locating and picking items.  Bottom line: reducing movement can increase productivity, and therefore, profit.
  • Narrow aisles and storage areas: With dynamic storage and retrieval systems, the space within the fulfillment center can be optimized.  It is not uncommon to realize a 65% gain in floor space.  This newfound real estate can be used for a variety of revenue generating activities.

As channels like e-commerce continue to grow, the need for efficiency within the supply chain has become critical.  Automation is a key development for warehouse operations due to its variety of competitive advantages.  With faster, more accurate picking processes , warehouse labor can be restructured into other value-producing roles, helping you stand out from the competition. Barrett Distribution Centers has the technology and experience in place to create customized supply chain solutions that meet the needs of sporting good companies across the nation.  For more information, click here.