According to Internet Retailer, when it comes to online sales growth among major retailers over the past decade, the winner is not Amazon. Urban Outfitters Inc. tops the charts as the fastest growing internet retailer. Since 2003, Urban Outfitters experienced colossal growth within their e-commerce segment and revealed a 9,000% jump in web sales, compelling the organization to develop their supply chain to meet customer expectations. Urban’s increased customer demand required the development of a new fulfillment center to improve the customer experience regarding internet-based demand. In the fall of 2012, Urban Outfitter’s Reno Fulfillment Center became fully operational and began satisfying customer orders.
The Reno Fulfillment Center is considerable at 460,000 square feet and is equipped with state-of-the-art transport conveyance and sortation equipment. When determining solutions for warehouse automation, The Executive Director of Logistics for Urban Outfitters stated, “Vanderlande Industries demonstrated that they clearly understand complex logistics challenges, and are able to design appropriate solutions through mixing and matching their proven sub-systems, and are able to provide full scope integration.” In addition to the sortation and transport equipment, the facility also contains an Accutech Apparel Autobagger capable of producing 800 single-item customer orders per hour.
The facility is still within its infancy, but the design of processes within the building, in addition to modern warehouse technologies, easily sets the building up for success. While the technology gives the facility some advantage over its competitors, I truly believe it does not give long term sustainable advantage. For long-term sustainable advantage to be attained, an organization cannot simply purchase new technology. There are minimal barriers preventing competition to acquire similar equipment. Only time will tell how greatly successful the Reno Fulfillment Center investment will become.