Holiday Magic & Automation in Gap Inc.’s Distribution Centers

Gap Inc.

Ever wonder how that cozy pair of PJs makes its way to you during the holidays?
 
With more than 3 million packages shipped last week alone, it’s safe to say that working in Gap Inc. Logistics during the holidays means you double as one of Santa’s helpers. But sending a wish list to the North Pole will only get you so far, which is why more and more consumers are choosing to purchase their gifts online.
 
To support the rapid growth of our online business -- which is on track to exceed $3.5 billion this year -- our fulfillment operations have undergone a major transformation. Historically, our distribution centers were channel-specific (aka built to serve either our retail stores or the online market). With the help of some seriously cool automation and technology, the Logistics team has been on a journey to evolve our distribution centers into a cross-channel fulfillment operation that can seamlessly serve both online and retail orders in one facility.  
 
This omni-channel initiative -- which enabled the teams to ship out nearly half a million packages on Black Friday -- is powered by a mix of talent and technology. This summer, our distribution centers were busy hiring and training thousands of seasonal workers in preparation for the busy holiday “peak period.” But with massive amounts of orders that come through from all our brands -- Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Hill City -- we also support our teams with highly automated systems to help get the job done.
 
To see the cutting-edge technology in action, take a look at this video of our Fishkill, NY, distribution center:  

An Inside Look: Gap Inc. Innovation + Logistics

  
Meanwhile in our Fresno, CA, and Gallatin, TN, distribution centers, we are currently using SORTs, the robotic sortation solution by AI and robotics startup, Kindred. This yellow mechanical arm, surrounded by a sphere of cubbies, quickly and accurately sorts batches of units destined for multiple packages. How? By grasping individual items and scanning the barcode into the built-in camera, then placing the item in the appropriate cubbie -- each destined for an individual online order. If the robotic arm has trouble grasping an item, one of Kindred’s workers remotely takes over to help (they keep watch from their office in Toronto). Using that assistance, the robot then learns how to pick up the item for next time.
 
In turn, our associates can focus on more critical tasks, while building their own technical skill set by working with market-leading supply chain robotics. With the massive growth of Gap Inc.’s online business, the SORTs have played an exciting role in assisting our DC workers to quickly and accurately sort through millions of product.
  
When it comes to our supply chain evolution, it’s all about the tech and the talent; investing in those two things allow us to give our customers the best experience possible -- no matter what time of year.
 

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