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Nordstrom opens inventory to brick-and-mortar shoppers

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A leading luxury retailer is leveraging robotics to help ensure customers have access to the products they want, in-store as well as online.

Seeking to provide every store with the ability to provide customers with desired items, however, they want to receive them, Nordstrom is piloting robotic technology from Tompkins Robotics and Attabotics for the purpose of connecting inventory across its stores and facilities within a market so customers have access to a larger selection of product, faster.

Currently, Nordstrom is using the robotic technology to automate the storage and sortation of West Coast beauty orders in its San Jose, Calif. distribution facility. The Attabotics structure is able to house aisles’ worth of products in a compact space and is flexible, so it can fit into a variety of spaces and can adapt to changes in customer demand.

Nordstrom combines the Attabotics structure with t-Sort autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from Tompkins Robotics. t-Sort is a portable, scalable robotic sortation system consisting of free-moving robots along the shortest route possible to sort items and packages by shipping order, destination or service level. The t-Sort system is fully modular and additional robots can be added or removed in real time, enabling Nordstrom to ramp up for peak seasons.
The retailer is utilizing Tompkins Robotics’ t-Sort system to handle unit and item sortation of e-commerce and store fulfillment orders, as well as larger t-Sort Plus robots for parcel and carton shipping sortation for outbound shipments. 

Nordstrom estimates the combined solution of Attabotics and Tompkins Robotics uses up to an estimated 90% less footprint within the San Jose facility. The retailer says the technology allows more efficient storage and sortation of product, ultimately getting items into the hands of customers faster. It also enables distribution center employees to focus on inspecting product quality, order accuracy and packaging before orders are shipped.

Based on learnings from implementing the solution in its San Jose facility, Nordstrom plans to soon expand its usage at to a new local omni-hub facility in Torrance, Calif., to further support customers in Los Angeles, which is the retailer’s largest market. Nordstrom hopes that this will help ensure customers receive the right product at the right place at the right time, as well as reduce out-of-stocks, extended fulfillment and shipping delays. 

“We have developed a market approach to our supply chain enabled by our combined technology of Tompkins Robotics and Attabotics,” said Ngoc Phan, VP of supply chain systems and engineering at Nordstrom. “This approach helps us continue to get customers the right product at a faster speed, and we look forward to continue leveraging this technology to enhance our fulfillment operations to provide a seamless shopping experience for customers.”





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