Voice Picking


Voice Picking: How It Works

Voice picking is a technology often used in warehouses where instructions are given to an employee through a headset or device using speech technology to help them pick an item for an order. Employees can respond through the headset as well and, through speech recognition, can ask for more direction or notify the system when a task is completed. 

These systems are completely paperless and hands-free as everything is done verbally. These systems are usually interconnected with warehouse management systems (WMS) so that operations run more smoothly and inventory is synced.

Key Concepts of Voice Picking

Voice Picking

When discussing voice-directed picking, it’s important to understand the following concepts:

Speech Recognition

Voice-directed picking is driven by speech recognition, a technology that converts spoken words into digital data, in order to enable voice-directed tasks.

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

A WMS is a software application that manages and controls different warehouse operations, such as the movement and storage of inventory. These systems are often integrated with voice picking systems to facilitate order processing.

Order Fulfillment

Order fulfillment involves processes relating to receiving, processing, and delivering orders to customers. Voice-directed picking plays a crucial role in efficiently picking and packing items for orders.

Hands-Free Operation

When employees work hands-free, they’re able to perform tasks without using their hands to refer to manuals, take notes, or operate machinery. With a voice picking system, employees can locate items to pick while keeping their hands free of paperwork.

Voice Commands

A voice command is a spoken instruction given by workers or voice picking systems that help in giving information, requesting assistance, or confirming tasks. 

Headsets and Microphones

Both headsets and microphones are essential hardware components used in voice picking systems. They allow workers to send and receive voice commands while keeping their hands free for picking tasks.

Components of Voice Picking Systems

Voice-directed picking systems are comprised of both hardware and software, both working together to facilitate order processing. Here’s what makes up both:

Voice Picking Hardware

  • Headsets: Allow workers to hear instructions and communicate with the system
  • Microphones: Often built into a headset, microphones capture voice commands and responses
  • Mobile Devices: Devices can be used to access a voice picking system and transmit and display task information

Voice Picking Software

  • Speech Recognition Software: Speech recognition software converts spoken words into digital data for better collaboration between employees and computers
  • WMS Integration: Connects a voice-directed picking system with a business’s WMS to track and manage inventory
  • Voice Command Interface: A voice command interface allows workers to interact with the system using voice commands and improves efficiency and accuracy

What is the Method of Voice Picking Systems?

Voice Picking

Below is an example of how a voice-directed picking workflow would work in action.

  1. Order Allocation: The system assigns orders to a picker based on factors like priority, location, and order size
  2. Voice Command Initiation: The picker receives verbal instructions for the item to be picked, such as the specific location like row or shelf number
  3. Item Location Confirmation: The picker then goes to the location they received and confirms arrival at the location by reading a location code or description
  4. Quantity Verification: Next, the picker confirms the quantity picked matches the order
  5. Order Confirmation: Finally, the picker confirms completion of the order, and the system updates the WMS and the task and assigns the next one

Benefits of Using a Voice Picking System

The voice picking solutions market is expected to reach US $6.03 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 14.7% from 2023. This growth is due to many companies seeing the benefits of this technology. Here are some of them. 

Increased Accuracy

By reducing errors caused by manually picking orders, voice-directed picking systems can help provide clearer instructors for more accurate order fulfillment. 

Enhanced Productivity

Allowing employees to work hands-free without relying on paperwork helps boost productivity and worker efficiency.

Reduction in Training Time

Since they rely primarily on voice, these systems are intuitive and easy to pick up, requiring less training time compared to other systems.

Improved Safety

Workers can keep their hands and eyes on the task, reducing the risk of accidents in warehouses.

Real-Time Inventory Management

Voice-directed picking systems immediately update inventory levels in a WMS, helping warehouses keep more accurate stock information for better decision-making.

What Are the Disadvantages of Voice Picking Systems?

While there are many benefits of voice-directed picking systems, implementing them in your business can also come with some challenges. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering adopting one of these systems.

Environmental Factors

Noise levels in the warehouse can interfere with the voice recognition aspect of certain voice picking tools, which would then require additional adjustments or equipment to operate efficiently.

Training Requirements

As with any new system, there’s a learning curve and training that needs to be implemented. While not difficult since it relies mostly on voice, there is a training period to help employees use the system effectively and adapt to the new workflow.

Integration Complexity

Depending on your existing warehouse system, integrating voice-directed picking software and hardware into your legacy systems can be complex and require careful planning.

Maintenance and Support

It’s essential to include regular maintenance and responsive support as part of your voice-directed picking implementation plan to continuously keep the system running smoothly and minimize downtime.

Applications and Industries

Statistics show that up to 50% of a distribution center’s labor goes to picking. With voice picking, warehouses from multiple industries can establish more efficient workflows. Here are a few of the most common industries and applications of these systems.


In retail stores or warehouses for retail businesses, voice-direced picking systems can improve order accuracy and fulfillment speed, especially during peak sales times like holidays.


In e-commerce warehouses, voice-directed picking can help fulfill a high volume of orders quickly and accurately without increasing the reliance on resources and labor.

Logistics and Distribution

Voice-directed picking systems streamline order fulfillment processes in logistics and distribution centers, reducing errors and improving efficiency.


Manufacturing companies can also rely on voice-directed picking systems to guide workers in picking parts or components for assembly, improving production efficiency.

When it comes to using voice to make workflows more efficient, there are also other technologies that can be applied to almost any of these industries to make operations more efficient. Speech AI products such as aiOla enable companies from any industry to make the most of speech data. 

Teams can turn words into actions with powerful artificial intelligence technology that allows them to more accurately fulfill orders among other things, like decrease inspection time, trigger workflows, improve predictive maintenance on warehouse machinery, and more.

Does Your Company Need a Voice Picking System?

Voice picking systems are a great tool if your warehouse is only missing a way to accurately and efficiently pick items for orders. That said, there are other technologies, like aiOla’s speech AI, that can improve multiple aspects of warehouse operations aside from only picking, offering a more holistic approach to implementing voice technology to your workflows.

If you’d like to learn more about how aiOla’s speech AI technology can help, schedule a demo with one of our experts.