The impact of COVID-19 on warehouse automation

There has been a lot of recent talk about the impact of COVID-19 on warehouse automation as many operations have been disrupted as they try to implement social distancing measures and attract staff from an already competitive labour market.

But will COVID-19 really have the massive impact that is being mooted?

The Growth of eCommerce

Online volumes have surged during lockdown with all non-essential shops closed

Lockdown is a live experiment for how shopping habits may change in the long-term

Omnichannel retailers need to make efficiencies to offset costly online fulfilment

Implementation Timelines

Depending on the type of solution, automation can take 6-24 months; from design to go-live

If we are 12 months away from a COVID-19 vaccine, then is warehouse automation the right solution?

Labour Market Considerations

Economic forecasts suggest a downturn comparable to the great depression is going to hit globally

Job losses could drive down labour costs, making a return on investment less attractive

Businesses might also find capital less attainable, or funds diverted, in a time of great uncertainty


Warehouse automation will drive significant operational benefits although projects take time to go-live and they may be harder to realise in uncertain economic conditions. COVID-19 might not be the explicit cause of the increased automation touted, but will add to the market appetite for it

Visit our warehouse and robotics page to find out more about our offering or contact our expert consulting team at to learn how automation could be used in your operation and how to evaluate its benefits

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