Hudson’s Bay Co. is introducing new robotic technology to its Ontario distribution center for internet fulfillment that CEO Gerald Storch says will put the merchant at the “absolute forefront of Internet distribution technology.”
“There have been robots, we have robots, the traditional Kiva robots, in our distribution center for Saks Fifth Avenue already,” Storch said during Hudson’s Bay Co.’s fourth-quarter earnings call on April 4. “But this new robotics technology is faster and better by far than even the Kiva robots that are well known and that operate in a number of DCs around the world.”
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Storch said the OPEX Perfect Pick technology is basically “robots that do most of the work and they allow you to utilize the cube of the DC very efficiency, so that you don’t have to keep investing over future years in additional DC capacity. All you do is just add more arrays of this high base shelving with the robots that go up there and pick the product for you.”
Storch said Hudson’s Bay Co. is excited about the implementation of OPEX’s Perfect Pick distribution center solution because of the growing importance of ecommerce on its business. Storch said he wants to make sure they are an ecommerce leader, and not just chasing the rest of the industry.
But Hudson’s Bay Co. is not just focused on the back end: It is also looking to improve its digital sales on the front end. Storch said Hudson’s Bay Co. is working to get all its brands onto a common internet platform, and is basing that on its flagship Saks Fifth Avenue ecommerce site. Additionally, the company will be adding significant personalization capabilities to its websites.
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Storch said that one of the reasons Hudson’s Bay Co. acquired flash sales fashion and apparel site Gilt in February is because of its expertise in personalization and mobile. Hudson’s Bay Co. is going to be transferring that technology to its other ecommerce sites.
“And so we’re going to be focusing on both of those areas, mobile technology and personalization,” Storch said. “And we feel that with the Gilt acquisition, we bought a company that was A-1-plus in terms of skill sets when it comes to mobile, which is the most rapidly growing part of the internet, and personalization.”
For the 2015 fiscal year, Hudson Bay Co.’s total digital sales increased by 48.5%, with comparable digital sales up 23.2% on a constant currency basis. For the fourth quarter, total digital sales increased by 61.6%, with comparable digital sales up 22.8% on a constant currency basis.