In a new global Zebra study, about 60% of associates worldwide report improving work conditions and better
adoption of technologies that make their jobs easier
Singapore – Jun. 6, 2022 – Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA), an innovator at the front line of
business with solutions and partners that deliver a performance edge, recently conducted a new global
Warehousing Vision Study to explore the trends and sentiments driving operational decisions and spend in
warehouses. The findings released today deliver encouraging news: warehouse operators are making significant
investments to better fulfill the needs of both customers and workers and make it easier to fill open jobs.
Conducted in January and February 2022, the survey collected feedback from more than 1,500 warehouse
decision-makers and associates around the world. In Asia-Pacific (APAC), the markets surveyed for the study are
Australia, China, India, Japan and Singapore.
Market Pressures Become Catalyst for Positive Changes
Nearly nine in 10 warehouse operators globally agree they must implement new technology to be competitive in
the on-demand economy, with 80% confirming the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and modernize more
quickly. Those in the APAC region feel the pressure to modernize almost as much as the others around the world,
with about three-quarters of APAC decision-makers saying the pandemic has prompted them to make changes.
They’re turning their focus and spending most heavily toward technologies that support workforce augmentation
and workflow automation. For example, more than nine in 10 operators in all regions, including APAC, indicate
they will increase the use of wearables, mobile printers and rugged tablets over the next few years, along with
mobile dimensioning software that automates parcel and carton measurements. In addition, 27% of warehouse
operators globally and in APAC have already deployed some form of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) today.
Within five years, that number is expected to grow to 92% in APAC and 90% worldwide.
“Labor shortages resulting from the recent global events are straining the regional and global supply chains,
presenting a fulfillment gap across many sectors,” said Aik Jin Tan, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead for Manufacturing,
Machine Vision/Fixed Industrial Scanning, Zebra Technologies. “This highlights the importance of a resilient and
flexible supply chain. Hence it is encouraging to see warehouse operators increasingly adopt modern technologies
to augment their workforce and mitigate these labor challenges.”
Warehouse associates are also becoming more comfortable with their employers’ use of advanced technologies.
Less than half (45%) globally say their employers have increased wages or offered bonuses amid labor constraints,
yet most (82%) feel positively impacted by the situation. This trend continues in APAC, where nine in 10 warehouse
associates report a positive outlook despite only 34% reporting that employers increased renumeration.
Employers are improving work conditions in other ways, such as giving them more technology to use on the job
and leveraging technology to create more flexible work shifts. In fact, more than nine in 10 warehouse associates
around the world agree on some level that technology advancements will make the warehouse environment more
attractive to workers, even in times like these when supply chains are strained, demand is surging, and there’s
increasing pressure to meet tighter deadlines.
Top Warehouse Challenges
Decision-makers are having a harder time getting customer orders out the door on time than they did three years
ago, and they’re struggling to maintain inventory accuracy and visibility. They also admit they’re expected to
deliver orders faster than ever to keep up with the on-demand economy, with rising transportation costs taking
their toll on over 40% of warehouse operators spanning manufacturing, transportation, wholesale distribution,
logistics and retail. This may not be surprising considering that respondents indicate their shipping volumes have
increased more than 20% on average over the past two years.
Like associates, though, warehouse operators are viewing these challenges as catalysts for change and growth.
Between now and 2025, over eight-in-10 expect to increase the number of stock-keeping units (SKU) they carry
and the volume of shipped items. They also plan to expand returns management operations, offer more valueadded services, and increase their physical footprints, with both the number and size of warehouses increasing.
While 61% of warehouse operators globally also want to increase headcount within the next year to right-size
their workforces, they admit finding (55%) and training (54%) workers in a timely manner remain big challenges.
This is especially true in APAC where 53% report difficulty finding workers and 59% indicate training is challenging.
As a result, over eight in 10 decision-makers around the world agree they will have to rely more on automation in
Balancing the Scales: Augmenting the Workforce with Automation
While most warehouse operators worldwide will deploy AMRs for person-to-goods (P2G) picking, material
movements and other automated inventory moves, more will invest in software that helps automate analytics
and decision-making. In APAC, 95% of decision-makers indicated this willingness to invest in such software in a
bid to raise worker effectiveness and efficiency and reduce labor costs, outpacing the global average by just a bit
“Automation is allowing businesses to create different types of work environments and allowing people to take
on roles that are more interesting, fulfilling and career elevating,” said Christanto Suryadarma, Southeast Asia
(SEA) Sales Vice President, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific. “As a result, 56% of APAC decision-makers believe that
the most important labor initiative is to reduce unnecessary tasks so associates can focus on more customercentric work and utilize their workforce more efficiently. By investing in RFID technologies that improve situational
awareness, automate workforce and task management like RFD90 and FX9600, decision-makers can effectively
scale warehouse operations and keep up with the on-demand economy.”
Job Satisfaction – and Worker Retention – are Byproducts of Automation
With warehouse operators planning to increase automation, some might say jobs will be lost. Yet, study
respondents believe automation may help keep more people in their jobs and fill empty ones. Nearly eight in 10
warehouse associates in APAC (79%) and globally (78%) say walking fewer miles per day would make their jobs
more enjoyable, even if they had to pick or handle more items, and many strongly believe AMRs could make
warehouse jobs less stressful.
Decision-makers should take note; only 36% of those surveyed in APAC and 41% worldwide completely agree
implementing warehouse technologies such as robotics and devices can help attract and retain workers even
though most associates:
- who work alongside AMRs today confirm they have helped increase productivity and reduce walking/travel
time (83%), reduce errors (73%), and enable advancement to new roles or opportunities (65%).
- claim they are more likely to work for an employer that gives them modern devices to use for tasks versus
an employer that provides older or no devices (83%).
“Though automation has been a priority for companies for years, it has increasingly become an urgent investment
area due to unexpected disruptions and seasonal peaks which requires the workforce to scale quickly,” added
Tan. “Interestingly, associates feel more strongly about this than warehouse operators right now, which further
adds to the business imperative of an augmented workforce in the warehouse environment.”
Five-Year Technology Outlook for Warehouse Operations
Globally, 85% of decision-makers say they have implemented mobility so front-line workers can capture each
inventory move they make, and most feel they are optimizing the use of their devices to fit the task, safety, and
ergonomics. However, warehouse associates (84%) and decision-makers (79%) are concerned they will not meet
their business objectives unless more technology investments are made to improve operations, with associates in
the transportation (92%) and logistics (88%) sectors feeling most strongly about this need.
As a result, more than six in 10 decision-makers say they will invest in technologies that increase inventory and
asset visibility within their warehouses and overall visibility throughout supply chains over the next five years.
Nine in 10 expect their use of sensor-based technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), computer
vision, fixed industrial scanning, and machine vision systems to become more prevalent over the next five years.
As businesses invest in advanced technologies that enable more visibility, real-time guidance and data-driven
performance, they’re focusing on increasing team productivity and better utilization of assets, equipment and
people, which equates to improved worker well-being and overall market competitiveness. However, it will
become critical for warehouse operators to become more thoughtful about how they implement and integrate
technologies as they increasingly digitalize workflows and scale systems. Following a phase-based roadmap will
be key to steady, sustainable maturity.
- KEY REGIONAL FINDINGS
- Nine in 10 APAC decision-makers agree machine vision and/or fixed industrial scanning technology in key
areas would save time and eliminate errors, even though only one-quarter are currently using them.
- EMEA warehouse associates were the most likely to say they would view their employer more positively
if provided with mobile devices and technology (85%).
- 96% of associates in LATAM believe implementing warehouse technologies such as robotics and devices
would help attract and retain workers, the highest of any region.
- 86% of North American decision-makers say the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and modernize
more quickly, the most of any region.
SURVEY BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY
Zebra’s Warehousing Vision Study was conducted in January and February 2022 by third-party research firm Azure
Knowledge Corporation. It includes feedback from over 1,500 decision-makers and associates that manage and
maintain warehouse or distribution center operations in manufacturing, retail, transportation, logistics and
wholesale distribution across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
ABOUT ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES
Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers organizations to thrive in the on-demand economy by making every front-line
worker and asset at the edge visible, connected and fully optimized. With an ecosystem of more than 10,000
partners across more than 100 countries, Zebra serves customers of all sizes – including 94% of the Fortune 100 –
with an award-winning portfolio of hardware, software, services and solutions that digitize and automate
workflows. Supply chains are more dynamic, customers and patients are better served, and workers are more
engaged when they utilize Zebra innovations that help them sense, analyze and act in real time. Zebra recently
expanded its industrial automation portfolio with its Fetch Robotics acquisition and increased its machine vision
and AI software capabilities with the acquisitions of Adaptive Vision and antuit.ai. Zebra is #25
on Newsweek’s inaugural list of America’s 100 Most Loved Workplaces and #79 on Forbes’ list of America’s 500
Best Midsize Employers. Learn more at www.zebra.com or sign up for news alerts. Follow Zebra’s Your
Edge blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Story Hub: Zebra Perspectives.