StrongPoint is a retail technology company that provides in-store and e-commerce hardware and software solutions predominately for grocery retailers. They are AutoStore’s first grocery-focused partner and and end-to-end fulfilment solutions from picking to last mile for grocery retailers. The company has offices in the UK, Ireland and many countries across Europe.
Chris Mackie, SVP eCommerce at StrongPoint, speaks to Warehouse & Logistics News.
What are your best-known products/solutions/services?
Our grocery e-commerce fulfilment solutions are world-class but perhaps less well known in the UK. These solutions were originally developed in Scandinavia, where retailers have a unique challenge: the world’s highest labour costs, sometimes 2-3x that of the UK. That means solutions for grocery retailers in Scandinavia need to be not just efficient but ultra-efficient to overcome the labour-cost pressure on margins. For example, our Order Picking solution, used throughout Europe, has in-store workers picking groceries at far higher rates than currently seen in the UK.
Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest?
StrongPoint focuses on retailers but particularly grocery, which is growing but facing unprecedented challenges from inflation and labour and supplier costs. This creates a huge margin squeeze, but technology plays a massive role in driving efficiency savings and creating better customer experiences.
What are your most recent product innovations?
We’re installing the world’s first automated grocery facility from AutoStore, which covers ambient, chilled and frozen zones. Until now, frozen items have always been picked manually alongside cube storage solutions. By integrating frozen into the same cube storage system, massive savings can be made in terms of emissions and electricity costs – up to 40%.
What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?
The UK is a mature market, and much of the technology being used has been in place for years. There is a strong focus on cost reduction, thus driving interest in efficiency-saving technology, including in automation and replacing on-prem with SaaS-based solutions. Our e-commerce fulfilment solutions are ideally placed to help retailers solve these issues, whether through the use of our SaaS-based in-store picking solution, by deploying automation technologies such as AutoStore’s storage and retrieval system, or by deploying autonomous mobile robots in-store.
How does business in 2023 compare to previous years? What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?
There is unprecedented pressure on retailers to cut costs so they can keep prices low. Therefore, it can be harder for retailers to get projects approved, and we’ve seen delays in several store projects. However, when retailers are under pressure, that pressure shifts to its supply chain, and here we’re seeing increased demand. In this regard, we have a suite of solutions for both stores and warehouses, so we continue to be relevant to our customers and poised to succeed.
What’s the latest news from your company?
Firstly, we’ve partnered with the amazing Coalescent Mobile Robotics. They’ve developed a robotic solution that can be placed underneath picking trolleys, which can be used inside stores amongst customers. We’re partnering with them to drive efficiency savings for retailers who pick in-store. Our research shows that 58% of pickers’ time is spent walking. AMRs can reduce this by fetching empty trolleys, returning full ones and by following the picker, reducing time spent walking and allowing them to focus on picking. Secondly, we’ve partnered with Blue Yonder and now implement their front-running warehouse management system as part of our micro-fulfilment centre solution.
Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances, e.g., safety, sustainability, the environment?
We’re the world’s first installer of an AutoStore cube storage system with a frozen zone, which can reduce energy costs by 40%.
Are you investing in staff training and skills development?
We continually invest in training and development. We are also proud to have become certified installers for AutoStore, which means we can now do everything in-house, setting us apart from other AutoStore installation partners.
t: +47 934 03 254