The history of e-commerce traces back to the 1960’s and is now embedded in people’s daily lives. A type of hybrid e-commerce model, Click & Collect, allows customers to purchase products online and then pick them up in-store or at a centralized collection point. This model has been proliferating and becoming popular especially in supermarkets and hypermarkets. Our robot, Serena, will be a part of and bolster this process.
Through our research and collaboration with hypermarkets, we have discovered that 40% of staff in retail spend their time walking and frequently pushing and pulling heavy loads. The walking distance between the warehouse and the store could be 500± meters. The floor staff walks an average of 20.000 steps per shift. Each trip in Click & Collect takes roughly 45 minutes with an average of 9 trips per day per person. The majority of employees working with Click & Collect are petite women, as they are preferred when having to pick products (fruits, vegetables, etc.) of better quality and they tend to push and pull burdensome loads of 120± kg. Additionally, an ongoing labor shortage is noticeable as it is a physically demanding job.
The current workflow of Click & Collect can be categorized into five phases, “Reception of Order”, “Preparation of Trolley”, “Fulfilment of Order”, “Storage of Order”, and “Delivery of Order”.
In short, Click & Collect employees collect the orders, prepare the trolleys with empty boxes, pick up the items, then carry them back to the storage area.
Our robots automate the transportation of these trolleys – they will bring about advantages without having to redefine the store infrastructure or workflow, saving 5+ minutes per trip with some stores averaging 1500 trips per week. This also means an increase in working standards and more time spent on assisting customers or addressing different tasks.
Our robots will steer the way into making the stores better for employees and customers.