On Your Mark, Headset, Go!

eBay Enterprise, Inc. is an eBay company since June 20, 2011 specializing in creating, developing and running online shopping sites for brick and mortar brands and retailers. The company also provides a variety of marketing, consumer engagement, customer care, payment processing, fulfilment, fraud detection, and technology integration services. It has over 500 clients and operates 26 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.

At the beginning they used radio frequency for picking and packing orders in the warehouse. It was a problem because the employees had to stop what they were doing to talk or receive orders from the radio. eBay Enterprise implemented a hands- free voice-based system, which eliminates the need to handle RF devices. This system assists the employee through the warehouse picking process, offering simplified prompts such as “ next, ready, repeat, go to 231, or pick three”. By keeping voice commands simple and short, the voice- based system is able to “hear” what the worker is saying. Moreover, it can easily translate them into a digitalized piece of information that can be sent to a warehouse management system (WMS) for integrated and automated order tracking.

After the move to this new system the order picking errors rates dropped by 25%, consequently the delivery times were shorter. Although the final result was an increase in fulfilment efficiency and order picking accuracy, it was hard to implement this system. For example, to fully engage with the voice- system, employees must understand the whole warehouse operation: how to pick orders, when to load, and how to pack.

At the end, the result of a committed and multidisciplinary work team where systems, operations, and engineering personnel all pulled together, made the project a success.

By: Maria Serra
Referenced by: Inbound Logistics


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