Logistics firms need to invest in technology to deliver greater efficiencies in the face of a rising shortage of warehouse workers and ongoing supply chain challenges.

The warning comes in a report by order management system specialist Mintsoft which found high numbers of warehouse vacancies across the country.

The company found that London has the highest number of vacant warehouse operative jobs, closely followed by Bristol and Birmingham.

The research, which analysed data from job search site Indeed on Monday 21 February 2022, found that London topped the league with 233 vacancies, followed by Bristol in second place with 219 openings, and Birmingham in third place with 188 warehouse operative jobs advertised.

Other cities with high numbers of warehouse worker vacancies included Northampton with 146 jobs advertised, Leeds showing 129 vacancies, Nottingham offering 125 openings, Milton Keynes with 122 opportunities, Leicester showing 117 jobs and Manchester calling for 101 warehouse operatives.

Of the 20 cities surveyed, Derby had the fewest vacancies at 69, followed by Warrington and Exeter, which both had 70 openings.

The report warns that “this is a nationwide problem and a universal challenge across the majority of regions of the UK and businesses need to be able to adapt to this skill shortage, whether that’s new training initiative, wider opportunities for new staff such as apprenticeships or investing in technology to streamline existing processes.”

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It advises that companies struggling to recruit warehouse operatives use technology such as order management systems (OMS) to increase the efficiency of their warehousing systems and operatives.

“Automating time-consuming tasks will not only save time but help to reduce errors during tasks that are ripe for human error, meaning warehouse workers will be able to work smarter, not harder - freeing up time to allow for instances where there are potential staff shortages,” the report notes.

Rob Hodgson, Mintsoft warehouse management systems and e-commerce fulfilment specialist said: “With additional challenges being caused as a result of the current supply chain issues, many online retailers are looking to outsource their logistics and partner with a 3PL that can offer streamlined fulfilment and shipping solutions as they look to keep ahead of growing demand.

“Expectations of logistics partners such as 3PLs and warehouses are ever-increasing, and working efficiently has never been more important.

“To best serve clients and their customers, orders must be completed efficiently – this means speed and accuracy are pivotal.

“The global warehouse management software market size is expected to grow from $2.8bn in 2021 to $6.1bn by 2026, at a CAGR of 16.7% which is being driven by the boom in e-commerce.

“The data shown as part of this campaign confirms that many fulfilment businesses are struggling to recruit the staff they need with the skills needed - industry-specific recruitment specialists have even commented that they've never been busier when it comes to fulfilment roles in the warehouse and logistics sector.

“It's time to enhance processes in order to improve existing warehouse efficiency and space optimisation by empowering current staff with the right conditions and technology to make it easier for them to succeed.”