Case Study


AutoStore™ Prepares Online Cosmetics for Growth


With online cosmetics undergoing unprecedented growth, warehouse automation services offer the key to increasing sales and making shipping faster and more reliable. Rituals Cosmetics and Arvato chose AutoStore to take their operations to the next level.

Orders per day
Picks per station

Rituals Cosmetics, an award-winning brand based in Amsterdam, has been an established presence in the beauty and wellness industry since 2000. In addition to shops, spas, and hotels in Europe and North America, their range of luxury products is available online and through "click-and-collect" options. But in 2019, increasing demand and changing shopping habits made it clear that their e-commerce model would have to adapt to an evolving online marketplace.

Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, which provides e-commerce logistics services for Rituals Cosmetics, introduced a series of automation solutions that allowed them to rapidly adjust to rising demand just as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. As Rituals Cosmetics was one of the fastest-growing online cosmetics retailers on the market, Arvato needed a logistics strategy combining scalable automated services and a comprehensive warehouse management system (WMS) software to help them meet existing demand and prepare for future growth.

The challenge

With average annual growth rates of 30% to 40%, Rituals Cosmetics was going to need to overhaul their e-commerce operations to accommodate demand. They started with “two packing tables and a number of racks” in 2014, says Maurijn Hellenthal, Senior Logistics Engineer at Arvato. The new system would have to be more efficient and, importantly, capable of handling peak period orders ranging from an average of 10,000 to more than 25,000 per day.

At the same time, public health measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered how Rituals Cosmetics’ customers chose to shop. Not long after Germany’s first lockdown was announced, for example, the company received 40,000 orders — “twice as many as during Black Friday,” explains Hellenthal.

Between rising consumer demand, skyrocketing warehousing costs, and a disruption to their typical supply chain, Arvato had to respond quickly to both retain their customer base and prepare the company for subsequent expansion. AutoStore, powered by automation solutions provider Swisslog, offered a unique answer, exceeding expectations and helping Arvato and Rituals Cosmetics respond to one of their greatest challenges to date.


Benefits of the AutoStore system

The enhanced warehouse automation services AutoStore provided now allow Arvato to handle roughly 80 percent of Rituals Cosmetics’ orders automatically, thus shortening processing times and allowing the company to keep up with customers’ changing expectations. AutoStore partner Swisslog provided the SynQ interface software, giving warehouse employees real-time oversight of order statuses, with orders passed along the QuickMove conveyor system to Arvato’s value-added service department for additional preparation as needed, and then further on for manual labeling and sealing.

The revised system also includes changes for Arvato’s warehouse team, such as periodic work rotations and lighter traditional duties. In addition, the made-to-measure boxes used in the system double the number of orders per pallet to 120, substantially reducing Arvato’s CO2 footprint.

Other benefits Arvato gained from the AutoStore system includes:

  • Substantially reduced risk of errors, and enhanced control over logistics processes
  • Maximum scalability and flexibility for future expansion and peak-period capacity
  • Improved ergonomics and, as a result, increased handling speed
  • More manageable workloads for warehouse employees
  • A first-of-its-kind hazardous substances storage system

How the system works

The unique AutoStore system was delivered in two phases. The first phase, which came online in September 2019, was fully operational just in time to respond to Arvato’s rapidly evolving requirements. It saw the installation of a Grid comprising 36,000 Bins, with 36 AutoStore Robots, 6 picking stations, and 2 inbound stations.

Also included was the construction of a unique bunker facility for safely storing gases, aerosols, and flammable liquids, potentially the first automatic integrated hazardous substances storage solution. “That was a complex challenge because nothing like this had ever been done before,” says Hellenthal. “Arvato took on this solution, also with regard to regulations, insurance and, of course, safety. That took some serious work.”

Arvato's AutoStore system has a unique bunker facility for safely storing gases, aerosols, and flammable liquids. To learn more about how AutoStore addresses safety issues for health and beauty suppliers, click here.

The second phase came sooner than anticipated when restrictive measures were introduced across Europe in response to COVID-19. However, AutoStore was able to swiftly scale up Arvato’s existing system, immediately delivering 15 new Robots, followed by a further 50 soon afterwards, and doubling the number of picking stations. As the Grid was already staged for further expansion, AutoStore could implement these changes with minimal preparation and downtime. In addition, the larger-than-planned additional order of Robots enabled Arvato to switch to 24/7 operation due to more charging time and greater equipment availability.

Further facilitating the change in scale, Swisslog’s SynQ warehouse management system (WMS) software provided the company a fully flexible level of control over all streamlined warehouse operations. The new put-to-light order pick cart system allocates incoming orders according to six standard carton sizes, with one cart accommodating up to 30 orders and a single picking station capable of handling 120 orders over four carts simultaneously.

System overview

  • Software: SynQ (Swisslog)
  • AutoStore Equipment: 101 Robots; 12 Ports; 36,000 Bins
  • Conveyor System: QuickMove

“We grew along with the customer, and together we looked for an automated system that could handle the expected growth in volume on the one hand and was scalable and flexible to enable further growth on the other.”

Maurijn Hellenthal
Senior Logistics Engineer, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions

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