Melbourne-based Adore Beauty has made a half-million dollar investment in warehouse management software to reduce the amount of packaging it uses. What’s more, automation is expected to bolster the company’s growth for the next five years.

The solution chosen was HighJump.

Kate Morris, CEO and founder of the beauty ecommerce site began Adore Beauty from her garage in Launceston back in the early noughties, and it has grown into Australia’s longest-operating online beauty store.

Morris incorporated HighJump into her business because of its volumetric calculation — a capability software the company was previously using lacked.

She said to use the volumetric component, the company had to scan every single product in the warehouse — over 13,000 items. From there, the system calculates each order to determine the smallest box it can be placed in.

Morris said it took six months of finding the right product and another four to six months of implementation until the volumetric software was up and running by September.

Since installing it five months ago, Morris said the company has seen huge improvements in accuracy.

“I think for the whole Christmas period we had 12 items that were incorrect — and this is out of thousands and thousands units that we sent.

“We expect in the future we will be able to continue to drive extra efficiency with it.”

Morris noted that the system gave Adore Beauty better inventory accuracy, as it has an ongoing cycle count built in. So it is constantly counting stock as staff pick products.

The software also enables the company to cut down the time it takes to pack orders, improving efficiency.

According to Morris, “That means from a customer’s perspective we’ve been able to push out our same-day dispatch cut off from midday to 2pm.

“It also means getting more orders out every day from the faster pack time. From the customer’s perspective we’re more efficient as they get the right product in the box and they get their order sooner.”

Automation and jobs

Automation in business is often accompanied by a fear of losing jobs. Morris said if anything, this software means the creation of new jobs.

She likens it to owning a Boeing jet — you need someone to fly the aircraft, otherwise it will gather dust in a hangar somewhere.

Kate Morris, CEO, Adore Beauty

“It’s not like putting in Microsoft Office, where you boot it up and away you go. It’s a big undertaking, a big investment.

“If you want to get value out of it you need people who can translate what the needs of the business are into what the software can do, and I think that is always going to be a human job.”

The company also ensured everyone was trained to use the new technology.

“The warehouse staff absolutely love it. It’s that much better than [the software] we were on before — everyone loves it.”

Using automation in the future

Morris said there are plenty of opportunities for automation in the business.

The warehouse would be the obvious place to implement automation, she said, focusing on the customer experience to be faster and more efficient.

“In terms of using intelligent software there’s a lot we can do in the front end of our web site experience as well.

“We have some fairly big deployments that will be rolling out this year using AI to help improve customer recommendations. In terms of the actual automation piece, I think most of the gains are in our warehouse and probably some customer service systems too.”

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