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Supply Chain News: Zara Testing Robotic System for In-Store Click and Collect Process

 

Mini-Load System from Cleveron in Store in Spain, another Coming to London

March 12, 2018
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Well that didn't take long.

With the growing popularity of retail "click and collect" service, in which customers order on-line and then pick up their goods at the store, executing the process efficiently and in a way that is acceptable to customers can be a challenge.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Cleveron's web site says the system is capable of storing up to 2000 orders or parcels, with a maximum carton size of 60 x 40 x 40 centimeters.


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The certainly was the case for apparel retailer Zara, a unit of Spain's Indetex SA. About one-third of its on-line sales are now picked up at one of its stores, Zara says.

It seems Zara's existing process can be improved. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that one retail analyst in the UK described his experience as follows:

When he recently stopped by a Zara store on London's bustling Oxford Street to pick up a package he had ordered on-line, "there were no signs indicating where to pick up such orders. An attendant told him to wait in the checkout line. After a long queue, he was told he needed to head upstairs, where he was greeted by another line. An attendant was taking down customers' package numbers by hand to retrieve the items."

What's the answer to this materials handling challenge? So-called lockers systems can be one approach, where ordered goods are placed into secure lockers that customers unlock with a code sent by the retailer to their smart phones.

But only large format stores really have the space for these locker systems, and the loading of the orders into the lockers is manually intensive.

But another answer could be the type of automation that is frequently deployed in distribution centers, but not really to date in stores.

The Wall Street Journal piece and other articles on the subject report that Zara is in fact piloting some form of automated system, but they provide very few details, describing a system that will enable shoppers who have ordered items on-line to scan or enter a code, triggering a behind-the-scenes "robot" to search for the customer's package in a small warehouse, and then deliver it quickly to a drop box.

SCDigest did some research and believes the technology comes from a Euro company called Cleveron that makes a variety of storage system. It appears that one of its Cleverflex systems for click and collect automation has been installed at one Zara test store in Spain.

As can be seen in the video below from Cleveron, the system appears to involve a type of "mini-load" automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), with the automated used to both store deliveries brought from a distribution center and then to deliver them to customers at a kiosk after the code has been entered or verified through a smart phone.

Video of the Click and Collect Automation System from Cleveron

 

 


(See More Below)

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Cleveron's web site says the system is capable of storing up to 2000 orders or parcels, with a maximum carton size of 60 x 40 x 40 centimeters.

The company also states that "CleverFlex is able to predict user activity based on past data and optimize its work flow. For example, CleverFlex is capable of remembering parcel traffic peak times and position parcels to leave shelves around the console empty for these periods."

It adds that the test of its system at the Zara store in Spain has two basic objectives:

• Determine the automated solution's Return on Investment
• Test end-customer experience

Now apparently there will be this second test at a store in London, with a global rollout possible based on the results.


What do you think of automating the click and collect process? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below or the link above to send an email.

 

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