The dynamics of the e-commerce market and the small nature of the shipments can only be handled with high-performance omnichannel logistics concepts.
SSI SCHAEFER recommends complete intralogistics solutions consisting of flexible modules to serve all sales channels from one system.
Smart service concepts ensure trouble-free operation even during peak times
Every year, Black Friday heralds the global peak season in retailing. However, the days of this sales campaign, with lots of discounts, being limited to only the Friday after Thanksgiving, and even to selected products or product groups, are very much over. More and more frequently, vendors are expanding their sales tactics and discount battles over an entire Black Week and seamlessly transitioning into the hot final phase of Christmas trade with Cyber Monday and other offers.
This year, many retailers are relying on more inventory. They have ordered early to have enough stock, unlike last year. In the USA and Asia in particular, the industry traditionally expects increased consumer demand at Christmas time. In Europe, consumer sentiment has been dampened to some extent due to the rise in energy and living costs, high inflation and general uncertainty surrounding the war in Ukraine. With the discount battle of Black Friday, the industry nevertheless expects increased demand, which needs to be managed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In order picking and shipping, seasonal peaks could previously be realized by reorganizing the warehouse to set up fast-moving pick zones and by increasing staff. The latter in particular is becoming increasingly difficult. However, the extension of discount campaigns to large parts of the existing range or additional seasonally purchased goods also increases the complexity and dynamics in the warehouse. Added to this are problems in replenishment due to delivery difficulties or transport bottlenecks, price increases and increased sick leave in the warehouse.
Successful e-commerce and omnichannel retailers have positioned their warehouse logistics accordingly for the future. In order to be able to achieve higher throughputs, warehouse, transport and picking processes are automated as precisely as possible, but also flexibly and sustainably. SSI SCHAEFER supports companies all over the world as an intralogistics partner with decades of experience and an enormous product range – from the SSI LOGIMAT® vertical lift module to AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and robotics applications, from SSI Carrier overhead conveyor technology to the high-performance 3D-MATRIX Solution® automated warehouse and the modern software solutions with WAMAS® and SAP.
A best practice example from the growing global e-commerce grocery segment is Lotus's, a hypermarket operating in Thailand with over 2,000 stores, 15 million customers, and an online platform. In order to respond to growing demand and omnichannel consumer behavior, the grocer implemented an innovative material flow concept with partial automation at its largest unit load distribution center, in WangNoi, together with SSI SCHAEFER. The main objective of the project was to develop a more cost-efficient solution for unit load storage and single item picking on the existing floor space, in order to increase labor productivity and handle orders more efficiently. The solution included a multi-level manual picking system with carton flow racks for storing fast-moving items and carton and bin conveyor technology connecting all picking zones and workstations. In addition to retrofitting the warehouse's hardware, all processes within the existing Oracle WMS environment were integrated into WAMAS via an IT interface, without re-engineering for a completely new WMS. The result is a flexible logistics solution from order start to picking and shipping sortation.
To prepare for its growing e-commerce business, Swiss Coop subsidiary Dipl.-Ing. Fust AG, the largest supplier of household electrical appliances, consumer electronics and computers in Switzerland, has invested in modernizing and expanding its logistics site in Oberbüren, Switzerland. The goal was to centralize the warehouse capacities as well as to align the logistics concept, which was previously focused on store deliveries, with the changed requirements in both the B2B and B2C business. Together with SSI SCHAEFER, the company has implemented a highly efficient and extremely flexible multi-channel solution, which has already proven itself in the Corona pandemic with the rapid increase in online orders, with high process and fail-safe reliability.
Over a construction period of only two years, the logistics floor space was doubled to 50,000 m²; at the same time, the required storage capacities have been tripled. The scalable solution mix consists of a bin warehouse with the SSI Cuby single-level shuttle system, a high-bay warehouse, solutions for manual areas, and the WAMAS logistics software including a Warehouse Control System to control all automated warehouse resources in a sequenced and synchronized manner. Through optimized processes, productivity in small parts picking could be increased by a remarkable 40%. The SSI Cuby makes an important contribution here by providing the picking bins to the workstations in an efficient manner. Whereas previously about 1,800 shipping packages could be produced per day for store deliveries and the online business combined, Fust is now able to send a total of 4,000 shipments per day for both sales channels.
Since 2016, Finnish retailer Stockmann has been handling all deliveries to stores and e-commerce customers from a highly automated logistics center in the greater Helsinki area. The assortment includes hanging goods, lay-flat goods, and other items, all of which are stored in the automated, multifunctional distribution center. The system developed by SSI SCHAEFER is designed for a throughput of 55,000 order items with 180,000 individual parts per day. While all the hanging goods are transported and sorted via the energy-efficient overhead conveyor system, SSI SCHAEFER implemented the 3D-MATRIX Solution for the flexible handling of the flat goods. This is an 8-level shuttle warehouse with 130,500 storage locations for double-deep storage and 45 lifts for parallel storage and retrieval of bins. The connected order picking zone for hanging garments accommodates 9 picking workstations. The hanging garment picking area is arranged on 3 levels and accommodates over 350,000 garments.
The entire solution was designed with potential expansion in mind. This means that the layout of the warehouse is capable of integrating additional parts to the system for both hanging garments and flat garments, if required, to accommodate the company's growth and possible future changes. Furthermore, Stockmann relies on SSI SCHAEFER's comprehensive maintenance service "SCHAEFER Maintenance Philosophy (SMP)", which supports both seasonal sales peaks and the handling of daily standard quantities. SSI SCHAEFER's Residence Maintenance (RM) team is on site every day, monitoring the performance of the systems and ready to immediately resolve any challenge that arises to prevent disruption to the facility. During peak and off-peak seasons, 5 to 6 RM employees are on duty for Stockmann; during peak times of year, the team is expanded to 6 to 8 technicians.
A total intralogistics solution to serve all distribution channels from one system offers many advantages for omnichannel providers. For example, they have access to their entire inventory at all times and can service every order, regardless of whether it originates from the store or from an e-com customer. With the help of powerful and flexible automation solutions, warehousing, transport and picking processes can be handled efficiently and changing requirements and seasonal peaks can also be managed reliably. An important benefit for employees is also ergonomic workstations with IT-supported and intuitively designed processes and automatic support for particularly stressful activities. To ensure the highest availability of the systems, SSI SCHAEFER offers a broad portfolio of services using smart technologies that are individually tailored to the customer's needs.
Looking to the future, efficiency in the processing of online orders is becoming increasingly important in order to meet the increased demands of online retailing, as higher energy and purchasing prices, together with transport costs, are increasingly squeezing retailers' profits.