Revolutionising Front-Line Worker Training: The Role of Wearable Technology in Warehousing, Distribution, and Retail

In an age where digital advancements are reshaping industries, the struggle to onboard front-line workers persists. Surprisingly, over 50% of decision-makers in the latest Warehousing Vision Study by Zebra identified training as their second most significant challenge, with an average onboarding time of 4.7 weeks. Similarly, retailers face challenges, with 75% of decision-makers acknowledging the difficulty of reskilling or upskilling existing employees, as revealed in Zebra's 16th Annual Global Shopper Study.

But why is this happening when technology and on-demand content are readily available? 

Digging deeper into the Global Shopper Study, it appears that a major concern is that a significant investment in retail is to train employees to use the technology - NOT to simply train associates, but to actually train them to use the technology which significantly contributes to the long onboarding processes. So is the problem that the technology is simply too complicated? Surely, if it’s too complicated to onboard staff quickly then something needs to change.

The Technology Training Conundrum:

A Microsoft study revealed that there is a significant lag in training to use technology which will automate tasks and 46% of front-line workers worry that they could lose their job if they don’t adapt to the new tech. A worrying 55% have had to simply learn to use the tech ‘on the fly’ which may explain the concerning mental health statistics in the study.

The Role of Wearables:

Amidst the challenges faced by various industries, wearables emerge as a solution to streamline front-line worker training. Traditionally, warehouse, distribution, transportation, logistics, retail, and manufacturing operations functioned with simplicity – paper checklists, inventory lists, and job aides. Today's scenario, where employees are expected to be autonomous from day one, requires a paradigm shift.

Wearables, such as Zebra's WS50, offer a hands-free solution. While mobile devices like tablets and computers may improve workflow accuracy, they occupy workers' hands, introducing friction to their tasks. Wearables free up hands, allowing workers to move swiftly and securely.

Simplifying Onboarding with Wearable Technology:

Wearables facilitate day-one productivity by coaching users through their tasks. The integration of training software on devices like the WS50 enables step-by-step guidance, expediting time-to-productivity and enhancing worker retention. This approach eliminates the need for extensive secondary tech training during onboarding.


In an era where efficiency is paramount, wearables are pivotal in overcoming the challenges associated with front-line worker training. Simplifying on-the-job training through wearable technology ensures that new employees can contribute immediately, reducing onboarding times and fostering a more productive work environment. As businesses navigate the demands of the on-demand economy, the adoption of technology, specifically wearables, becomes essential to survival. By investing in wearables, companies can empower their front-line workers, providing them with the autonomy and confidence needed to excel from day one.

Why Choose Bar Code Data?

With over 25 years’ experience, we can ensure your business has a swift onboarding process for new employees with the adoption of wearable technology in a variety of different industries. With a range of options to suit different preferences, you can adapt this technology to be worn on the wrist, back of the hand or even on just two fingers.

With the right technology and the implementation of wearables, you can prioritise front-line worker training with a swift onboarding process, enhance productivity, boost employee mental health and retention.

Bar Code Data can guide you effortlessly to the right solutions for your business. Our expert team can provide advice on our wide range of software and hardware solutions as well as providing insight into optimising their usage. We appreciate that each business is individual, and no two have the exact same requirements so get in touch to discuss your needs or alternatively call us on 03333 660 842.