Robots become the moving force behind Zara’s click and collect ops
Zara’s customers really like ordering from the fast-fashion chain online before heading to a store to pick up their purchase — so much so that shoppers sometimes encounter waits when retrieving their goods. The retailer, seeing an opportunity to make its click and collect operation more efficient and less expensive, is turning to backroom robots.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, one-third of Zara’s global online sales are picked up in the chain’s stores, leading in some stores to long lines. Earlier this year, Zara announced it would use robots in its backrooms to search for orders and deposit them in drop boxes for in-store collection.
Zara, which is part of Inditex, the largest clothing company in the world, has long used the efficiency of its supply chain to gain an advantage over its rivals. Zara has reduced the time it takes for goods to go from design to delivery to within a couple of weeks. Fast Retailing, parent company of Uniqlo, made a splash last year when it announced that its new design and delivery center would be able to match Zara’s speed to market.
Competition for Zara has increased as a wide variety of retailers, including J.C. Penney and Gap, have worked on developing faster supply chains. While some fast-fashion chains, most notably H&M, have struggled of late, others, including ASOS and Zalando, have increased sales.
Amazon.com, which has its sights firmly set on becoming the largest apparel retailer in the U.S., also sees value in private brands and speed to market. Last year, Recode reported on a 2015 patent application by Amazon that would allow the retailers to produce garments on demand.
- Zara Turns to Robots as In-Store Pickups Surge – The Wall Street Journal
- Will Uniqlo beat Zara with speed and customer focus? – RetailWire
- Will Amazon’s on-demand manufacturing create trouble for fast-fashion? – RetailWire
- Are fashion trends moving too fast for retail? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see automation as the key for retailers looking to become more efficient and cut costs in their click and collect operations? Where else might robots be best used along the supply chain to improve the click and collect process?