Woolworths has started construction on its first automated fulfilment centre in Auburn in Sydney’s west, which is to be kitted out with technology from vendor Knapp.
The centre, which is expected to open in 2024, will employ “hundreds of personal shoppers at the site to pick and dispatch up to 50,000 home deliveries a week,” the retailer said.
Director of e-commerce Annette Karantoni said that over the past two years, demand for online grocery shopping in Western Sydney had more than tripled.
“We need to continue investing in new capacity to keep pace with demand and rising customer expectations,” Karantoni said.
“The development of Auburn will provide a major boost to our same day delivery capacity in Western Sydney - unlocking faster and more flexible online shopping options for our customers.
"It will also unlock a wider range of products for our customers online, with the facility able hold up to 40,000 products.”
While facilitating home deliveries, the centre will also have pick up bays that enable “direct to boot service for local customers who prefer to collect online orders themselves,” she added.
The centre received NSW Planning Department approval as a state significant development in June of this year.
Woolworths said that while the centre will boost online order fulfilment, it would augment rather than replace the retailer’s previous in-store fulfilment model, whereby orders are sent to and fulfilled by the closest store to the customer.
“More than 80 percent of online orders are fulfilled by stores,” Woolworths said.
The Auburn centre also builds on recent investments in so-called “micro-fulfilment technology” at the retailer’s Carrum Downs and Maroochydore supermarkets, which use systems from Takeoff Technologies and Knapp.