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Booktopia bets on robots to build on bumper year

Online retailer Booktopia is trialing the use of autonomous robots at its Lidcome DC in Sydney to increase capacity and productivity.

According to the business, it will be the first company in Australia to use robots developed by Shenzen-based Hai Robotics which could quadruple efficiency and increase storage capacity by 80 per cent.

The shift will allow the DC to hold 1.8 million products, compared to its current cap of 800,000.

“Australians are expected to spend an extra $80 million buying books online this year, taking the market to more than $1 billion for the first time. We need to ready to meet that growth this year and into the future,” Booktopia CEO Tony Nash said.

“Our distribution centre is already the largest and most advanced book distribution facility in the country and these robots will allow us to hold more stock and pick that stock faster.”

The robots are able to reach up to 5 metres, and can move heavy objects, allowing Booktopia to utilise more high density shelving in its DC.

The investment follows a 28 per cent spike in sales in the 2020 financial year, during which it shipped around 30,000 items daily, sold over 6.4 million books, and raised $20 million to expand its DC.

“The funding will allow us to accelerate our growth in a controlled and measured way by investing in our ability to deliver to Australian book consumers through automation, robotics and stock,” Nash said. “This has been a proven high growth and predictable model for us for 16 years and we are not about to change. We know that’s what our customers want from us.”

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