*This post originally appeared on the Wavelink blog prior to the rebrand in January 2017, when Wavelink, LANDESK, Shavlik, AppSense, and HEAT Software merged under the new name Ivanti.

Step into any Starbucks and you’re enveloped in a cozy yet bustling atmosphere of rich aromas, sights, and sounds. You want to linger in line, but decisions must be made, and they must be made quickly.

Will you order a cappuccino, a latte, an Americano, or a mocha? A fresh-brewed coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, or smoothie?

On top of all the standard drink choices, you can also specify a certain type of milk, syrup flavor, number of espresso shots, and more. Your options are endless!

Starbucks' long list of menu items and ingredients explains why more than 800 locations in the UK and Ireland rely on supply-chain specialists, Gist Limited.

For Starbucks, Gist manages logistics operations for dairy, ambient non-food, fresh chilled, and pastry products. A key component of Gist’s business is warehouse stock picking.

Warehouse operations are under pressure

According to Kathryn Nassberg and David Krebs of VDC Research, warehouse operations face pressure from customers who demand orders faster. More SKUs drive the need for increased inventory visibility, accuracy, and efficiency.

"Greater speed and accuracy in warehousing, especially where individual picking is concerned, can reduce the cost of errors and boost worker productivity,” say Nassberg and Krebs. “As long as the human element continues to play a central role in warehousing, any technology that optimizes workflows and improves accuracy will add tremendous value.”

Voice-enabled picking boosts efficiencies

“We’re always looking for ways to pick stock faster, which is hard to do when you’re holding a device in one hand,” says Martin Withers, Warehouse Manager at Gist.

“For a customer like Starbucks with small quantities of multiple items for multiple destinations daily, you really want both hands free for maximum speed. And for pickers in cold storage and wearing gloves, it was especially awkward keying numbers into a device.”

Gist chose to deploy Wavelink Speakeasy.

It’s a full-featured voice-enablement solution that doesn’t require major changes to infrastructure. You can learn more about this advantage by reading the Rob DeStefano-authored white paper “The Android Expectation” that you can download below.

Speakeasy enables pickers to work without interruption, by simply saying ‘next’ to confirm their picks and then receiving voice instructions for the next item.

“One of our IT suppliers, M-Netics, proposed Wavelink Speakeasy to us and we immediately saw that it was a much better fit for us than the previous tool,” says Marcus Jeffery, Business IM Manager, Major Accounts, at Gist. “A big selling point was that there was no requirement to buy and run a costly voice server; we just needed the devices themselves.”

“Another plus was the low cost and risk of implementation,” Jeffery says. “Wavelink Speakeasy just sits on top of the telnet client that is installed on all of our devices to connect to our warehouse management system, so we didn’t need to change anything.”

The pressure will continue to grow

According to VDC Research, the pressure for warehousing to boost productivity and cut costs will only continue to grow.

Nassberg and Krebs say 40 percent of warehouse labor costs are related to order preparation, which “heightens the need to reduce warehousing errors, and picking errors in particular, as organizations strive to optimize the perfect order. Organizations employing voice-based technology have consistently cited gains of more than 20 percent in both picking accuracy and worker productivity.”

Want more information? Download our FREE white paper below!