DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

First Look: Adidas Originals goes big in Chicago

BY Marianne Wilson

Adidas has opened its largest Adidas Originals location to date, a 4,966-sq.-ft. flagship in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The new outpost, which sits under a section of Chicago’s elevated train system, is designed to reflect its surrounding. It is full of connections to the local creative community, including an original sculpture at the front of the store by Chicago artist POSE, and custom murals created by Tubsz, a South Side native that specializes in calligraffiti (a combination of calligraphy and graffiti.)

Other elements include locally produced art (in the form of layered prints) from a non-profit group that supplies art and curriculum to Chicago Public Schools that have lost their arts funding. The art will be switched out every quarter with another local artist’s work. Because of the partnership with adidas, the group will be able to put art in three schools in the next few weeks

The flagship store also has an “L” train inspired dressing room, complete with a bench styled after those at city CTA stations. Other dressing rooms were inspired by some of the Adidas Original shoes. And there is a community wall where customers can share information about upcoming events.

“The adidas Originals flagship store in Chicago shows our ongoing commitment to exploring new and innovative ways to be part of the local community,” said Pascha Naderi-Nejad, senior brand director Adidas Originals. “Now our largest adidas Originals store in the world, everything about it exemplifies how we partner with creators who have shared values and an ability to push the bounds of creativity.”

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ECOMMERCE

Q&A: Boxed co-founder talks warehouse efficiency—via robotic automation

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Boxed is testing a new initiative to drive warehouse efficiency using automated driverless carts.

The e-retailer — which sells everyday essentials in bulk form at a discount — operates warehouses in Union (New Jersey), Dallas, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Warehouse associates fulfill and ship orders that arrive on customers’ doorsteps within two days or less. However, the Union facility is the company’s only fully automated distribution center. Boxed’s other three warehouses support predominantly manual, time-consuming operations.

In a move to automate its picking and packing operations at the manual centers, Boxed has developed — and is testing — an autonomous guided vehicle (AGV) that is able to pick up and transport orders through its facilities. And early indications are that effort is paying off with efficiency gains and improved picking rates.

Boxed’s co-founder and CTO William Fong shared his thoughts about the initiative — and expectations — with Chain Store Age.

CSA: What is Boxed’s interest in robotics?

WF: Union is our one fully automated distribution center, outfitted with a state-of-the-art conveyor system. We want to try to replicate this efficiency at our three manual locations.

Our goal is to reduce costs by 10% and replicate efficiency within 80%. Rather than deploy miles of conveyors, this next iteration of efficiency will stem from robotics-based carts. However, the technology will solve the same issue: getting merchandise to our pickers versus making them walk to the merchandise.

CSA: What was the project’s inspiration?

WF: We are always thinking about how to make internal operations more efficient. Focusing on a solution that could streamline operations across our manual fulfillment centers was a natural extension of this goal.

That’s how we created what we call AGVs — automated guided vehicles. Leveraging our entrepreneurial spirit, the devices leverage software we developed using open source technology, and our robotics team created the hardware.

The AGV features an iPad, and comes to life with a Tesla battery that has between 15-20 hours of run time. Embedded sensors and a camera give it awareness of its surroundings and controls its movement around the warehouse.

CSA: How do they work?

WF: The AGV is programmed with artificial intelligence. It can recognize routes, paths and product labels, and understand physical obstacles. They are programmed to autonomously travel throughout the distribution center, navigate through other humans and carts, and pull over to pick up orders.

Once a customer order is accepted by our e-commerce platform, it is dispatched to our fulfillment software. The software is integrated within the robot and mapping software optimizes the best route for the unit to compile all of the ordered merchandise, and directs the AGV to move forward, backwards or perpendicularly.

Embedded sensors direct the devices to the correct pick zones, and QR code readers identify which pallets to stop at. The sensors also prompt the cart to stop roaming when it encounters a physical obstacle.

Each time the AGV makes a stop on the picking route, an associate in the aisle picks all the requested merchandise. They use the iPad to confirm the merchandise was picked, and the filled cart travels to the pack station where another associate boxes the order and places it on a truck for delivery.

CSA: How long does the picking process take?

WF: It depends on the order — and whether they are fulfilling more than one order. However, the AGV prototype is currently performing at a rate that we estimate has increased productivity by 80%.

CSA: How many AGVs are you currently using?

WF: Currently, we are using one prototype for order simulations in Union. This is helping us prepare to launch our first units in our Dallas warehouse by the end of the year, and we will scale up from there. At full deployment, we expect to be using between 30 and 40 devices in Dallas.

Our goal is to deploy an average of 40 AGVs in each manual distribution center, give or take, depending on the need in each location.

CSA: What is the long term goal?

WF: Our long-term vision is to extend the AGVs to other operations that can minimize walking for our associates. This could include replenishment, transportation of supplies, and working alongside humans to fulfill other roles in the warehouse. Overall, we believe that as the AGVs streamline operations, they will continue to decrease the distance that our associates need to walk.

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r.f says:
Oct-07-2017 04:41 pm

This story is amazing!

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Camper, Westfield World Trade Center, New York

BY Marianne Wilson

Spanish footwear brand Camper stays true to its tradition of creating unique store experiences at each of its locations at its new outpost in Manhattan.

The 650-sq.-ft. store has a minimalist look, and features hardwood oak plank flooring with a satin finish. Oversized photo images provide a bold backdrop for product displays. The store is designed based on the idea of diorama-like exhibits, in which shoes serve as the focal artifacts. Seven-ft.-high “diorama” merchandise display cabinets are installed along three perimeter walls of the space. The cabinets consist of boxes of varying dimensions, designed to showcase either individual pairs of shoes or small collections. The boxes feature LED strips and replaceable photo backgrounds that reflect changing seasons and inspirations for each shoe design.

New York City-based design from Montroy Andersen DeMarco (MADGI) collaborated on the project with Studio Camper, the brand’s in-house store design team.

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