Emerging trends in material handling and order fulfilment software: What we foresee

The importance of software in order fulfilment and material handling cannot be overstated. Software solutions provide end-to-end visibility, accurate forecasting, enable more effective decision making and greater control over increasingly complex logistics processes.

In this article, we’ll explore the emerging trends in the software advancements that are shaping material handling operations.

The era of digital intelligence

We are now in an era of ‘digital intelligence’, in which material handling operators are leveraging high levels of visibility to enable better decision making. Through digital intelligence, operators are moving beyond knowing what’s going on to actually executing decisions. They are using dashboards, data analytics and AI to facilitate their decision making and address issues in real time, rather than rely on manual decisions.

Cloud-based platforms have become the norm

More and more material handling businesses are investing in cloud-based software and on-premises legacy solutions are increasingly becoming the exception. This trend is only expected to accelerate in the future.

A great advantage of cloud-based software is that it can be updated regularly without the need for disruptive upgrades. Many order fulfilment operators want to be able to update their software solutions more frequently in order to meet their evolving operations. They also want to be able to collaborate with their software vendors so that they can help tailor their software features and capabilities.

One trend we see in the development of cloud-native platforms is the use of more microservices in applications. By using contained building blocks, order fulfilment operators can more easily update and adapt their software, without having to take down their entire systems.

More digitalisation and automation please!

Greater levels of digitalisation and automated processes are an imperative for material handling operators and most companies will be investing in emerging technology over the next five years.

There are many factors behind this drive. Companies are looking for technologies that can support new business and operating models, that can achieve greater agility and resiliency and that enable improved decision making.

But other order fulfilment operators are also looking to technological solutions to improve efficiency in their operations and help manage labour shortages.

A principal reason for these investments is to reduce the latency between fulfilment planning and real-life events. Operators see advanced software platforms as helping them cut the time it takes to respond to real-world events such as the global pandemic.

When investing in emerging technology, fulfilment operators are often faced with deciding whether to upgrade their existing software solutions or replace them with new solutions. The most important question they need to ask is which option will make the biggest difference in how efficiently their fulfilment centres operate and whether it will be a positive return on investment (ROI).

Reducing risk via automation

Limiting risk is an ongoing key concern. Some material handling operators are deploying a “boundary-less planning” approach to identify and reduce risk in a reality-based manner. It means becoming prescriptive rather than predictive in decision making. Automation is key to this approach and enables the collaboration and connectivity that have become crucial to operators.


Software is the glue that holds order fulfilment operations together. As we move further into 2023, software trends will continue to shape the industry, and organisations that invest in emerging technologies and enhance their software platforms will be better equipped to meet the demands of a constantly evolving landscape.

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