Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Andrew Burer, head of marketing at warehouse automation firm Geek+, explains how convenience and eco-consciousness factor into his purchase decisions and how his company is making picking more efficient.
Name: Andrew Burer
Title: Head of marketing
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
In our experience, apparel is really at the forefront of the digital supply chain transformation, and an early adopter of smart robotics solutions. With the e-commerce boom leading to huge volume changes during peak periods and significant order fulfillment errors, the need for flexibility and accuracy has led industry leaders—such as our clients Nike and Decathlon—to look at cutting-edge AI solutions. Retail, specifically grocery fulfillment, is another industry that has a great handle on the supply chain.
Apparel can look at retail to see a great mix of e-commerce and B2B supply chain efficiency. By integrating advanced robotics and smart AI technologies into their warehouses, e-commerce companies are able to achieve maximum supply chain efficiency, accuracy and optimized warehouse throughput to meet the increased consumer demands triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I’d classify myself as a “responsible, convenient shopper.” With so many purchasing options available in today’s world, it’s important for me to know where my purchases come from, how they were manufactured or produced, how they’re shipped, if the item or its packaging is reusable or recyclable, and if the company I’m purchasing from actively strives for sustainability. Of course, convenience also plays a role in my purchasing decisions, but I always try to make sure convenience doesn’t outweigh responsibility in terms of production quality, sustainability and, of course, cost.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Good customer service is essential for consumer loyalty. For me, I want the purchasing process to be easy and efficient. I want to know the products I’m purchasing are top quality and that they were produced in a safe and responsible manner. If it’s a long purchase process, I want to feel like the seller understands my needs, doesn’t push too hard, and works with me to find the best fit for whatever it is I’m considering buying.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
Nothing too exciting here! I usually rock a good polo with business-casual pants. On the weekends, you’ll see me in a wetsuit.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The ’90s! I love me a good snapback hat with a nice flannel and some sweet kicks.
Who’s your style icon?
San Diego’s own, Tony Hawk!
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
We launched a demo center to showcase the latest robotics and AI technologies in our San Diego office last year. The new demo center provides a 360-degree customer experience, which gives customers real-time access to our newest technologies and allows them to explore the key features and capabilities of our solutions. With live demonstrations, our customers can see firsthand how we can improve their supply chain efficiency and warehouse operations.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
We are a group of diverse, creative and motivated people who work hard and play hard. We are committed to moving the world intelligently by making logistics affordable, efficient, flexible and safe.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
The global pandemic caused fundamental changes in consumer behavior and expectations. As consumer behaviors have become more complex, the need for an adaptable and flexible supply chain is more important than ever. In particular, the pandemic-induced labor shortage and surge in online buying has accelerated automation adoption in a variety of warehouse scenarios. More and more fashion and apparel companies are turning to intelligent autonomous mobile robots to enable their businesses to thrive amid today’s changing conditions.
Also, employee working and safety conditions should always be any business’ top priority! Automation can help with this in a variety of ways, such as reducing contact points between coworkers and eliminating heavy lifting or extensive walking.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
The apparel industry’s top priority should be creating a sustainable and flexible supply chain that supports safe and efficient warehouse operations. With this, companies will be better equipped to improve consumer loyalty and labor retention.
What keeps you up at night?
My colleagues around the world.
What makes you most optimistic?
The start of a new day and the chance to make a positive impact in someone’s life, no matter how big or small.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
Our company’s latest solution is a product called PopPick. It’s a next-generation, goods-to-person picking solution for warehouse operations and supply chain management. With autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) bringing goods to the operator, PopPick work stations utilize intelligent robotic arms to effectively retrieve totes or boxes in two side-by-side picking points. This can increase the picking efficiency up to 650 totes per hour and optimize throughput capacity by two times. It’s a game-changing solution for enhanced warehouse operations and will equip companies with the technology needed to meet tomorrow’s demands.