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To improve its customer experience in home delivery, Woolworths is planning its first automated fulfilment technology, creating 250 new jobs for personal shoppers and using automation technology from KNAPP to fulfil over 50,000 online deliveries a week.

Innovative fulfilment centre for picking e-commerce orders

Woolworths has announced plans to construct a new automated fulfilment centre in Auburn, New South Wales, to better serve the online grocery needs of customers in Western Sydney. Subject to planning approval, the 22,000-sqm Auburn fulfilment centre will support up to 250 full-time equivalent roles and around 440 jobs during construction, which is expected to commence in 2021 with go-live planned for 2024. Woolworths chose KNAPP as its partner for the realization of the project. Innovative technologies will help Woolworths’ personal shoppers pick and dispatch more than 50,000 orders a week, with customers having their orders conveniently delivered to their door.

Consumers benefit from the investment in automation technology

The plans come as Woolworths reported e-commerce sales growth of 92 per cent from July-December 2020. E-commerce sales now account for around eight per cent of total sales at Woolworths. “We’ve seen an extraordinary acceleration in online grocery shopping over the past year,” said WooliesX Managing Director, Amanda Bardwell. “As we look ahead, we see more and more of our customers turning to the ease and convenience of home delivery to reclaim time in their busy lives. To keep pace with the demand, we need to innovate with new technology to boost capacity and ensure we’re continuing to offer the best possible online grocery experience. This fulfilment centre will deliver a step change in our online offer for our Western Sydney customers. With KNAPP’s world-class automation, our team of personal shoppers will be able to pick many more orders – offering our customers faster delivery options and extra windows to choose from.”

Rudolf Hansl, Vice President Food Retail Solutions at KNAPP commented, “In collaboration with Woolworths, we’ve developed a highly automated and economical concept for online grocery. Our proven technologies enable fast and efficient customer order fulfilment. We’re very pleased to partner with Woolworths and look forward to working together for years to come.”

New growth potential for online food retail

Auburn is the next stage of e-commerce investment following strong growth and increased scale. It builds on recent investments with Takeoff’s micro-fulfilment solution (using KNAPP technology) – already live at Carrum Downs, Victoria; Moorhouse, Christchurch; and Penrose, Auckland. A further site is under construction at Maroochydore, Queensland.

Auburn will use the same underlying KNAPP technology at a much larger scale and is expected to deliver efficiency benefits as Woolworths unlocks new capacity for growth. Woolworths stores remain a key part of the e-commerce network, with investment to continue in pick-up (including Direct-to-Boot), in-store fulfilment and on-demand delivery.

Amanda Bardwell concluded: “Auburn and our other fulfilment centres play important roles, complementing the work of our store teams. They help us better serve the most densely populated areas with the strongest demand for online groceries. But even as we invest in new fulfilment centres, local stores remain the heart of our online operation. By making the most of our unrivalled national store network, we can stay close to our customers for faster same-day and on-demand delivery options, as well as convenient pick-up solutions.”

 

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