Locus Robotics Says Robots Helped Fill 13M Orders in November

Image: Locus Robotics

December 12, 2019      

Locus Robotics today announced its robots were able to deliver more than 13 million units picked during November 2019 on behalf of its global retail and third-party logistics customers. The company said this was a 400% increase in units picked over last year.

Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics

Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics

“2019 has been a year of significant transformation and growth for Locus and our customers,” said Rick Faulk, CEO at Locus Robotics. “We saw an incredible uptick in demand for our scalable, flexible, multi-robot solution. Locus helped businesses break productivity records they couldn’t have imagined possible even a year ago. This performance is an amazing testament to the value of our solution.”

Record orders online

E-commerce platform provider Shopify reported that more than 1 million merchants on Shopify sold more than $2.9 billion in orders worldwide over the Cyber Week period, up from $1.8 billion in 2018. The company said more than 25.5 million consumers made a purchase from a Shopify merchant, with peak sales of more than $1.5 million per minute at 3:01 p.m. ET on Black Friday.

“These unprecedented sales demonstrate the power of borderless commerce and how independent businesses and direct-to-consumer brands around the world have become the heroes of Black Friday/Cyber Monday,” Shopify said in a statement.

6 River Systems, which was acquired by Shopify earlier this year, reported that 60% of its customer sites experienced a holiday peak last week, with some of those customers fulfilling peak volumes of more than 5x their daily average. The company reported that the Thursday after Cyber Monday was the busiest day across its fleet of ‘Chuck’ mobile robots, the same as in 2018.

Fergal Glynn mobile robot checklist story

Fergal Glynn, 6 River Systems

“In one building last week. associates picked products with Chuck that were shipped to all 50 states and all 10 Canadian provinces,” said Fergal Glynn, vice president of marketing at 6 River Systems. In addition, Glynn said some customers were renting additional Chucks during the peak season to double the size of their fleets, as well as finding ways to increase their efficiencies. “Customers increased picking efficiency by consolidating high-frequency orders into single batches, utilized sort walls to singulate them, implemented 6 River Systems packout stations, and integrated an autobagger into the process,” said Glynn.

The National Retail Federation reported that 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, a 14% increase over last year’s 165.8 million. Shoppers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items over the five-day period (Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday), a 16% increase over last year.

The federation noted that for the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day online, with 93.2 million shoppers on Black Friday, compared with 83.3 million on Cyber Monday. Saturday had 58.2 million online shoppers, Thanksgiving had 49.7 million shoppers, and Monday saw 43.1 million shoppers.

The federation said free shipping was the biggest reason for shoppers to make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about, as online and in-shore shopping are increasingly intermingled. The NRF is forecasting that total sales for the holiday season, defined as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion.

Amazon didn’t report numbers on how many robots fulfilled orders, but did say that Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, based on the number of items ordered worldwide. The company continues to highlight its logistic network and Prime delivery schedule, saying that more than 10 million items are available for Prime Free One-Day delivery.

The company did face some shipping issues over the Cyber Week period, as bad weather in parts of the country and the large amount of orders it received during Black Friday and Cyber Monday delayed package delivery for many customers.

At Locus, the company said many of its customers were scaling up earlier this season versus last year, adding to their robot fleets via the company’s robotics-as-a-service business model. “Because of these efforts, Locus robots enabled customers to easily manage the steadily growing volume throughout the month, peaking at 1 million daily units during Cyber Week,” Locus said in a statement.

Chinese company Geek+ has not yet reported numbers of orders filled over the Cyber Week period, but earlier in November it reported that its robots were able to process a record 8 million orders in 72 hours during the 11/11 Single’s Day event.

Robotics Business Review reached out to several other robotics companies in the warehouse and e-commerce space, which declined to report any numbers on how many orders their robots fulfilled over the Cyber Week period. Ahead of the Cyber Week shopping period, many robotic companies were predicting large increases in orders that would be fulfilled by robots, compared to the same period last year.