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CASE: INTERNETSTORES

Efficient solution for handling returns

As the world’s leading multichannel specialist retailer for bikes and outdoors, Internetstores brings thousands of people onto their bikes and into nature every day. The online platforms fahrrad.de, Brügelmann, Bikester, Probikeshop, Campz and Addnature offer more than 130 000 products and 1,300 brands delivered to your home. The strong online business is enhanced by local stores in Germany, Sweden and France and a growing network of mobile service partners. The Internetstores Group is part of SIGNA Sports United and employs around 800 people in Stuttgart, Berlin, Lyon and Stockholm.

Since Internetstores deliver directly to end customers, technically complex products such as bicycles have to be prepared and professionally preassembled before shipping. The buyers are then able to assemble the new bike in just a few simple steps. Due to the steadily growing number of bicycle deliveries, the first assembly line was set up at Internetstores in Gehrde, spring 2016. In close cooperation between Internetstores and OCS, this was designed together with a customer-specific workpiece carrier that is able to carry out all the necessary assembly steps, from children’s bicycles to advanced e-bikes

Process need at Internetstores

The first OCS system in Gehrde has been expanded several times in recent years. Thanks to the flexible and modular conveyor, the system has been easily adapted to the constant increase in demand. A central part in online retailing is handling returns. Up until 2019, the returns were processed at the Internetstores location in Esslingen, but based on the previous positive experience with the OCS Overhead Conveyor System in Gehrde, Internetstores decided to install a different OCS system – this time to process all returns. The choice fell on the company’s location in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim.

Action from OCS

Since the building already existed, the internal transport and assembly system had to be designed specifically for the facility. Due to the number of units to be handled, only a two-storey system could meet the requirements. The procedures for processing returns are similar to those handling new goods. In addition to the product handling process, a photo studio was also integrated into the assembly processes. Through several on-site discussions and in close collaboration betweenn Internetstores and OCS the optimal solution was developed.

Solution for return handling

The return boxes are unpacked at two unpacking stations and the bicycles are hooked into the OCS conveyor system. The carrier has similar structure as the assembly system in Gehrde. Transport takes place automatically from the unpacking stations to the assembly stations on the ground floor and the assembly stations on the platform level. Transport to the platform level takes place via OCS vertical conveyors. OCS conveyor lines are integrated as buffer areas at various points. After assembly / inspection, the bicycles are transported to the photo studio and from there to the packing stations. The entire OCS overhead conveyor system is fully automatic and connected to the customer’s own master computer, so that precise tracking of the items in the system is possible at any time.

Result

As of 2020, the number of returns could no longer be processed by hand. The quantities could only be processed economically by automating the process. In addition, the process is now fully traceable. Faster processing means that the goods can be reintegrated into the value chain much earlier.

“By using the OCS conveyor technology, the workflow has been optimized and the idle times of the operators reduced. Now we can concentrate on the product and no longer have to worry about the separate supply of goods (delivery/removal of items to workplace and packaging). Furthermore, the system makes it possible to match different types of bicycles with a suitable employee according to assembly complexity levels. This is controlled by the Internetstore ERP. In this way we achieve a perfect balance between  quality and quantity. “

Eduard Jesser, Head of Returns at Internetstores