When we think about retail technology, we immediately think about the different technology that we encounter everyday at our local gas station, grocery store, or specialty retailer at the mall. Today I am here to talk to you about what it takes behind the scenes to get the goods that we each purchase every day to you, as well as how our favorite retailers keep those shelves stocked. My topic today will be focused on the technology that is used in the various warehouse and distribution centers that retailers so very much depend on. I have spent a good chunk of the last 8 months updating the infrastructure in our main distribution centers and have worked alongside workers in each of these facilities, and can tell you firsthand the technology is critical to efficient performance.
Warehouses and distribution centers are fast-paced environments that have tight deadlines. Product needs to be unloaded, inventoried, stored, assembled on a pallet, and finally loaded on trucks. A reliable local area network, along with stable internet connectivity, is the backbone of the technology. This allows for many different devices to connect to the internet and warehouse applications. WI-FI is probably the most important piece of infrastructure, as most of the devices used, including tablets, handheld scanning devices, and mobile printers are designed to travel throughout the potentially hundreds of thousands of square feet that these buildings are comprised of. These devices need to be able to connect to access points seamlessly as they navigate the many rows of racks filled with product. Ensuring great Wi-Fi coverage is a necessity, as well as a Wi-Fi application that can handle the many, many requests as devices connect to APs all over the building. Devices that disconnect from Wi-Fi and either don’t reconnect or take an extra-long time to connect are very problematic, not to mention frustrating to the those in the warehouse.