Crocs Inc., the colorful clog maker made cool again thanks to a recent string of celebrity partnerships, saw an unprecedented surge in sales last year as stuck-at-home shoppers sought out comfortable shoes. A new distribution center in Dayton, Ohio, spanning 550,000 square-feet — 40% larger than its previous operation — couldn’t keep up with demand.
Crocs sought guidance from Sedlak Management Consultants Inc., a supply chain and logistics advisory firm, to design a new space specifically for e-commerce fulfillment. Faced with a two-year timeline to build a fully automated facility, Sedlak designed a pop-up warehouse to provide immediate capacity for the footwear brand’s soaring demand. Crocs aimed to increase volume up to 40,000 units per day during off-peak season, which also required onboarding a large workforce in limited time.
Sedlak recommended adopting an automated fulfillment solution to improve throughput, optimize capacity and mitigate any labor-related risk. To achieve this, Crocs partnered with warehouse automation provider 6 River Systems.
A wall-to-wall fulfillment solution — powered by collaborative mobile robots called “Chucks” — fit the shoe brand’s specific needs. Crocs was able to add or remove robots based on demand and available labor, and since finalizing the solution design in August 2020, more than 80 Chucks have integrated into the company’s DC. About 30 of the robots were specifically intended to support holiday peak.
Implementation took just two days. Since launch, Crocs has picked nearly 3 million units with its bots — increasing throughput by 182% and exceeding desired pick rates by 25%.
A week after onboarding the Chucks, Crocs added dynamic zoning by 6 River Systems. The solution balances labor and assigns tasks in real time so that no resource is wasted, which can be critical during peak-season crunch.
Meanwhile, training time dropped from a week to just one day, saving Crocs more than 30 hours with each new associate. With Chuck, 6 River Systems helped Crocs fill seasonal positions quickly, both easing strains on existing employees and increasing efficiency.
“The real win here is how quickly we got everything up and running,” says Rob Fauerbach, director of distribution and logistics at Crocs. “We went from design to development to deployment in less than three months, and in time for the holiday peak.”
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