Mobile robotics, the best ally of peaks in logistic e-commerce activity

13 February 2020

Mobile robotics, the best ally of peaks in logistic e-commerce activity

An article signed by Pierre Yves Minarro, COO of Scallog.


Winter sales are over, Valentine’s Day is coming; The major consumer events follow one another over the seasons, in particular in e-commerce which has just crossed the “historic milestone” of 100 billion euros in 2019. On the front line, logistics, and more particularly warehouses, which must absorb these increasing peaks of activity over increasingly short periods. This translates into logistics flows that can increase by 50% to 100% over a few weeks or even days such as “Black Friday”.

If the proper management of these peaks necessarily involves anticipating and preparing resources; robotization of order preparation is a key lever to guarantee the quality of service – reliability, rapid delivery and return management – required by consumers!

Volumes and treatments increased tenfold in line with consumer requirements

Faced with volumes multiplied by 10 over increasingly short periods, e-commerce logisticians must anticipate stock management and mobilize the necessary operational human resources, from 30% to 50% of additional operators, and this long before the peaks of activity.

To the organizational and human response, they must add the automation of increasingly heterogeneous order preparation to accelerate rates, reduce delivery times and offer more services to customers. Proof of this is that the average basket of French internet users is below 60 euros and deliveries within 24 hours become the norm in 2019.

Added to this is the problem of managing returns (rate evaluated at 24% by the Fevad), a key success factor before purchasing, which concerns all e-merchants concerned with optimizing the cost and logistical processes. And this is only the beginning, the sales become a non-event and Black Friday becomes a commercial highlight – an increase of more than 274% between November 22 and 29, according to the Webloyalty Panel, to which the logistics e-commerce must adapt.

A lever for action and a real ally: mobile robotics

In our traditional, fixed and costly automation, logisticians must, in our eyes, rely on “goods to man” robotization with rapid ROI, like the Scallog range, to meet the challenge of absorbing peaks of activity, efficiently and at the best cost.

Mobile logistics robots are a prerequisite for having agile logistics in order to better serve customers during peak periods. They bring orders to stations where operators prepare their orders while being guided via the spot to light. No more searching for one or two articles among numerous references, multiplying unnecessary movements and manipulations, robotization guarantees a saving of time and productivity in the preparation of orders, according to the challenges of productivity, profitability and speed of execution requested by e-commerce.

Unmatched in automation, mobile robots easily adapt to the volumes to be treated by adding new preparation stations. They also bring rigor to the preparations and guarantee operational operators in less than two days, while improving their working conditions. The same goes for managing returns, operators no longer waste time finding the “right location”, mobile robots do it.

Soon the rise of Robot as a Service ?

Robot as a Service – RaaS – is already a reality in the e-commerce logistics sector. Mobile robots, coupled with software intelligence, can be rented over a given period, which guarantees great flexibility in the exploitation of logistics flows, without investing and therefore immobilizing money. This notion of RaaS should become more widespread in the coming years to absorb peaks in logistics activity: more than 40 Scallog robots were hired for this use in 2019.

In 2020, Fevad forecasts that e-commerce in France should generate a turnover of 115 billion euros and 2 billion transactions. Valentine’s Day, Black Friday, Christmas, Sales and thematic events such as Friday the 13th: during these high points of e-commerce, online sales should increase further, which will undoubtedly result in peaks in logistics activity . Today, mobile robotics represent the best ally of e-commerce for flexible logistics and accelerated order preparation.