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AMRs mitigate winter peak season demand

What started as evo’s founder selling winter sports apparel from a Seattle dorm room has become a multi-channel sports retailer. Over the past 20 years, evo has expanded into surf, cycling, travel, and more with stores across the US and Canada. 

Industry: Multi-channel sports retail
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Challenges

In 2019, evo moved into their new 165,000 square-foot warehouse shortly before the holiday peak season. Furthermore, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shifting the sales focus online caused a sudden increase in demand. 

The sports retailer’s goal was to:

  • Fulfill anticipated demand with 10-15 temporary extra workers on two shifts a day
  • Find a way to adapt to the unprecedented peaks in demand from the shift towards eCommerc
  • Accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols without compromising productivity
  • Plan ahead for the monumental peak season during the holidays
     

Solutions implemented

evo needed a picking solution that was both flexible and scalable enough to meet seasonal demand while driving productivity. Due to a longstanding and successful Warehouse Management System (WMS) partnership, evo trusted Körber to:

  • Implement Körber’s Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) solution using robots from Locus Robotic
  • 10 AMRs for standard period
  • Achieve system scalability – added 7 bots for peak season with the Robot-as-a-Service (RAAS) model

Benefits

Evo realized a number of key benefits within just a few months of introducing AMRs, including:

  • Increased picking speeds from 35 units per hour to 90 unit
  • Staff requirements were reduced to 5 additional seasonal workers from 12-15
  • Increased picking accuracy
  • Training time for new seasonal staff has reduced to 10-15 minutes
  • Increased morale among staff as AMRs are there to help them, rather than replace them

     

The Story

What started as a college student selling winter apparel from his Seattle dorm room has grown into evo – a leading online retailer of outdoor gear and apparel. The sports retailer has expanded over the last 20 years into surf, travel, cycling and more. evo has three stores in the US and five in Whistler, Canada. However, 70 percent of its revenue is generated through online sales. Moving into a 165,000 square-foot warehouse in 2019, evo was aware it needed 10-15 extra staff per shift to maintain seasonal peaks. They had previously struggled to find temporary workers to meet these huge spikes, often seeing peak days that were 10 times higher than typical sales periods. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 put additional pressure on evo’s fulfillment operations. It was clear evo needed a solution to rapidly scale to demand peaks, while also driving productivity and responding to new challenges brought on by the global pandemic. 

A number of options were considered – from conveyors to pick and pass solutions – but all aside from AMRs were too disruptive, expensive and slow to market. Having worked previously with Körber for a WMS, evo trusted Körber to implement their AMR solution.
 

This kind of fulfilment is on the rise as eCommerce continues to take up a larger percentage of the retail spend. We knew this kind of approach would work very well for Chemist Warehouse and we’re absolutely thrilled with the results.

Nishan Wijemanne
Managing director of Körber Supply Chain Asia Pacific

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