iHerb.com is an internet retailer providing a much broader, competitively-priced product range than customers can get from local stores – offering over 30,000 vitamins, sports nutrition, supplements, health care and organic products – with the convenience of home delivery.
The iHerb.com promise to its customers is that any order it receives by 1:00 pm will ship the same day.
In order to accomplish this speedy service, iHerb.com enlisted the help of Dematic to implement a high-performance distribution system specifically designed and configured for ecommerce order fulfilment.
Dematic’s solution combines a batch pick voice-directed piece picking system, a series of light-directed PutWall modules to sort batch-picked items into customer orders, and light-directed “PackWalls” to expedite shipping.
iHerb’s warehouse management system (WMS) groups orders into batches and determines how much of each type of product is needed to fulfil all of the orders – if 20 customers order Aloe Vera Gel, the WMS will direct a picker to retrieve 20 containers at the same time, rather than making 20 separate trips.
Using voice-directed technology, the WMS tells pickers where to go, and how many of which products to pick for each batch of orders, keeping hands and eyes-free, and improving order picking speed and ergonomics.
The batched goods are then conveyed to a processing area where they are broken down to individual orders in a series of put-to-light (PTL) stations.
The area is divided into small work cells, alongside which are rows of bins used to accumulate customer orders, with the size of the bin depending on the products and the size of order.
As the picker removes each item and scans it, a light flashes below the relevant order bin for a customer.
The picker deposits the item into the bin and confirms the task, until all products from the batch have been assigned to the relevant orders.
When all of the items for a customer have been picked, a light indicates the order is ready to be packed.
Packed shippers are conveyed to a sliding-shoe sorter, which diverts the cartons to the appropriate shipping lane.
Dematic’s voice pick and PutWall systems enable iHerb to process tens of thousands of customer orders each day, on time and to an accuracy level of 99.98%, and at rates of up to 500 items “put” per hour.
This story first appeared in Issue 6 of Dematic’s global magazine, Dematic Logistics Review. Subscribe to the magazine at http://www.dematic.com.au/magazine.