The future is prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear)

"We have been partners with Dalmine Logistics Solutions for about 20 years. They have supported us both directly and indirectly through our automation partners. They have followed our growth path, especially over the last decade, providing solutions that always meet our high standards" - Mirko Nobili, Global Operations Director of YOOX NET-A-PORTER.

We see the most beautiful fashion items from Italian and international brands parade. We're not, however, on the catwalks of Milan, Paris or New York, but rather in Landriano (PV) at the central hub of YOOX NET-A-PORTER, designed and built - with an investment of €47 million - to fulfill the desires of the e-shopping addicts of NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER.
The new logistics platform in Landriano is a further important step in the development of YOOX NET-A-PORTER strategic logistics omnistock model: thanks to a totally interconnected logistics network built around central and regional hubs, it offers customers a single view of their entire inventory and access to the product, regardless of the distribution centre where it is located.
A logistics network that is rapidly evolving, as Mirko Nobili, Global Operations Director of YOOX NET-A-PORTER, explains: "We are a global business with 9 warehouses around the world (UK, US, UAE, Japan, China and Hong Kong), two of which are here in Italy: one at the Bologna Interporto and one at the new hub in Landriano, near Milan. Our network is structured so that the Interporto reaches the Customers of our online stores YOOX and THE OUTNET, whereas Landriano reaches the worldwide Customers of our premium luxury destinations, NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER".
 
A global boutique
Guiding the development of the new hub is our commitment to constantly increase our ability to react to market changes promptly and guarantee the highest standards of service to our Customers. "Our customers," confirms Nobili, "are at the very centre of all our activities. Our priority as a Group is to offer them a unique shopping experience and unparalleled service. Therefore, we have defined our logistics network to achieve this goal. With our innovative omnistock platform, a new configuration of logistics centres and product flows, our Customers can access our global inventory from anywhere in the world, via an enhanced shopping experience. In this context, the Landriano warehouse was specifically designed to bring the operations of NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER, our online luxury destinations, under the same roof, doubling the total capacity.
 
Automation and Human Factor
To manage a constantly evolving assortment of products that reaches Customers in over 180 countries around the world, YOOX NET-A-PORTER has channeled the experience gained over time by its existing hubs into the development of the new platform, boosted by a constant push for innovation. "To date," explains Nobili, "the Landriano warehouse is one of our most automated distribution centres. Thousands of units arrive every day and are managed throughout the chain thanks to state-of-the-art technology. However, our guiding idea is always to balance between technology and the human touch, which is always unique. We complete our automated processes with human interaction throughout the entire product journey: quality checks, minor repairs and our unique packaging to redefine the luxury experience". Up to 600 people work at the Landriano platform during peak periods: 50% of them are under 35 and 70% are women.
 
A Tailor-made Solution
In developing the project, YOOX NET-A-PORTER relied on long-standing partners: "We have been partners with Dalmine Logistics Solutions for about 20 years," says Mirko Nobili, "they have supported us both directly and indirectly through our automation partners. They have followed our growth path, especially over the last decade, providing solutions that always meet our high standards.
Automating a logistics site of this magnitude involves many different teams. One of the biggest challenges has been the tight deadlines. We are extremely proud of our achievements in terms of both productivity and customer service. This warehouse is continuously growing in terms of volume and number of Customers. And it is our main challenge to continue to maintain this excellence into the future.
 
Let's not lose our track
To find out how the Landriano hub operates, we follow the flow from the inbound phases where all incoming goods are identified and loaded into the system, checked - 100% of incoming items undergo careful quality control - and sent to storage, according to type. It is at this stage that each single item is RFID-tagged, a choice that allows for full process visibility and real-time inventory with no possibility of error. Today, the warehouse receives and processes thousands of items per day which, after the control step, are organised into three main flows: hanging garments are transported via an overhead line - 250 metres long! - to the dedicated multistorey area; the garments themselves and the accessories are placed in boxes, which are the loading unit chosen to optimise the automation. Flat-packed items account for around 85% of warehouse flows. The boxes can be allocated to storage within the multi-depth shuttle warehouse (with a total capacity of 300,000 boxes) or directly to sorting. Outflows are both B2C, to the more than 5.3 million NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER Customers worldwide, and B2B to the other group warehouses around the world.
 
A project talented at innovation
"Given the relationship of trust established over time, YOOX NET-A-POPRTER and TGW have completely entrusted the hanging garment storage project to us. We define it as a turnkey project, as after a careful study and analysis of the Customer's needs, we looked for the ideal partner to whom we could entrust the handling of the loading units,'' explains in detail Andrea Cammi, CEO & CO-founder of Dalmine LS. "We found in MHART the skills and expertise to work together on a project of this scale.
In order to optimise both handling and internal routes, we developed a special solution for flow management. It is an overhead line that moves the garments. Starting from compartment 1 (shipping area), the line rises up to 9 m and crosses the entire warehouse up to compartment 5 where the multi-storey structure is located. At this point, the line descends down to 4 m above ground level, at the same level of the mezzanine first floor.
The handling of the hanging garments inside the structure is a combination of tradition and automation. We find an automatic loop that goes around the structure to service the floors, while inside each level and work corridor the handling is manual".
 
Credits: Il Giornale della Logistica, January/February 2022
 
 

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