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Technology 19 October 2021

New automation system dramatically improves customer delivery times

The IKEA Covina store, located in the Los Angeles region in the U.S., introduced a new warehouse automation system that vastly improves order fulfillment to ensure customers receive their products quicker than ever before – whether it's in the store or for online orders.

As part of a global initiative, IKEA is looking to harness the benefits of robotics at a larger scale, optimising fulfilment opportunities in stores and introducing ‘dynamic picking’ as part of this value-added service. The initiative is the next step after a pilot project in the IKEA Draper store in 2019, which has given us many opportunities to understand, test and improve on technology.

The automation process has removed the large majority of forklifts all the way from the supplier to the store and ultimately, the consumer. The improved racking system means more items can be kept in stock, which in turn helps manage larger volumes and orders from customers. As an example, IKEA Covina has increased to having 25 percent of the most popular items and heavy furniture being handled by automation, and this is only the start, as more items are being added by the day.

Marcus Baumgartner, Global Customer Fulfilment Manager, added, “This solution increases overall picking efficiency and accuracy for our customer, and at the same time it creates a better, more ergonomic experience for IKEA co-workers. This leads to shorter delivery times and better stock availability due to the IKEA store’s increased fulfilment capacity”.

Dustin Olsen, Automation Project Manager for the U.S., who has been involved from conception to implementation, stated “With the increase in online shopping we needed to improve our delivery times. Instead of waiting six days to receive their purchases, customers can now receive them the next day, either through home delivery or our click & collect service”.

LA is a growing market for IKEA, with four stores operating in the area. IKEA Covina was chosen for the pilot as it will be the central delivery point for Southern California, which will not only be good for customers, but also for our environmental footprint.

Whilst all these changes are taking place behind the scenes, customers and co-workers will certainly feel the effects. As part of a better life at home and in the quest of reaching the many more, the goal is to focus on fast pick-up & delivery times, in more locations than ever before.

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