Case Study: Acumen Brands Uses Robots to Cut Warehouse Costs
PROBLEM: Acumen Brands, parent company of 12 online retail sites, including ScrubShopper.com, TheBabyHabit.com, CountryOutfitter.com and more, wanted to update its warehouse order fulfillment system to improve employee productivity and order accuracy, leading to reduced costs.
SOLUTION: Hired a warehouse automation solution provider to implement a mobile robotic order fulfillment system.
RESULTS: Since going live with its new order fulfillment system in late May, Acumen Brands has seen its warehouse employees’ productivity more than triple and product return and order cancellation rates reduced by nearly 50 percent.
With a 60,000 square-foot facility in Fayetteville, Ark., Acumen Brands’ current warehouse and order fulfillment system is light-years from where it was just two short years ago when the company was founded. At that time the e-commerce retailer was attempting to fulfill orders out of a 3,500 square-foot doctor’s office (the company’s founder is an ex-physician).
To say Acumen’s order fulfillment system at the time was low-tech is being generous. It consisted of cardboard boxes laying on top of shelves in no particular order that workers would scale to find the item they were looking for. The ensuing high error rates, slow fulfillment speed and lack of inventory control weren’t surprising.
Knowing it wouldn’t be able to survive with the warehouse and order fulfillment system it had in place, Acumen Brands made a bold move. After a brief move to a second-floor retail warehouse, the retailer purchased its current warehouse, a former Coca-Cola distribution center. To address its fulfillment needs, Acumen Brands implemented Kiva Systems’ automated mobile robotic order fulfillment system.
“We had the worst hunt-and-peck system you could imagine,” says John James, Acumen Brands’ founder and CEO. “We were either going to have to take a mild step up or go all the way to the Ferrari. We chose to go all the way.”