"Double 11: Retail and e-commerce logistics from a single source

During the annual shopping spectacle of online giant Alibaba on November 11, the volume of orders in China massively increases – and yet delivery within three days is guaranteed. To ensure this, most retailers usually increase their workforce by a dozen times during this period. Alternatively, they rely on full automation of their supply chain, such as a Chinese lingerie company does.

Last year, the company had 300 times more orders on November 11 than on average days and handled them with relatively few additional personnel – thanks to a flexible all-in-one solution from KION brand DEMATIC. With a warehouse logistics system comprising a multishuttle, goods-to-person picking and crossbelt sorter, KION subsidiary DEMATIC in China has found the right solution for the customer to extend the lingerie group's business model to additional (online) sales channels.

Linking hardware and software for a better use to capacity

According to Canada’s multinational e-commerce company, Shopify, China is the leader in the global e-commerce market with a whopping 54.7 percent share. It comes as no surprise that e-commerce is steadily becoming the preferred method for shopping with the market for traditional retail gradually shrinking. With the launch of more distribution centers (DCs) and logistics systems, companies in various industries clearly want to serve all distribution channels; both in retail and online sales. In addition, seasonal fluctuations and the high number of returns also need to be managed as optimally as possible.

Supply chains for retail and e-commerce traditionally run separately in China. However, DEMATIC has combined the warehouse utilization of both business models with its multishuttle; a globally popular system for storage, order picking and order assembly. For the customer, it means higher plant utilization rates and greater work efficiency.

Crossbelt sorting systems and goods-to-person order picking are also multi-purpose systems in distribution centers. Goods-to-person solutions can handle both in-store and e-commerce picking; with crossbelt sorters handling both outbound and return orders. "When orders on the web are running at full speed, the picking system can take care of the e-commerce business, and when the hot phase of online ordering is over, the crossbelt sorter can be used for returns," explains Duan Chengwei, a project manager at DEMATIC.

Combining systems is not unusual in the intralogistics industry. Not only the physical connection of the systems is important, but also the smooth interaction of systems and software. As someone involved in solution development, Duan understands this only too well. "Software is at the heart of an automated logistics system that controls and coordinates the various plants within it. Apart from having a powerful software for the warehouse control system, we place great importance on thoroughly studying the logistical processes and challenges of each customer and to achieving the maximum performance with the ideal coordination of software and hardware."

Successful integration after logistics training in China

KION Group opens its new plant in Zhangzhou, China