An online gift basket company was experiencing steady growth over the past several years as the popularity of online ordering rose. However, in 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted so many industries, this Company like others in the ecommerce world, saw exponential growth. Since friends & families could not physically be together, demand for delivered gift baskets, flowers, and care packages soared. When placing an order online with this Company, a customer could choose their gift basket and type up a personalized message that would be printed on a beautiful greeting card and included in the order. It is a great way to let the recipient know that the sender was thinking of them, even though they may not be able to get together in person.
The Company had always been fulfilling orders manually; operators would pack the gift packages then print and apply the shipping labels. The personalized greeting cards were printed in bulk in the printing area then brought to the packing area on a pallet. Operators would match the cards with the correct order before they were shipped out. This manual process was time consuming and, especially during peak season, resulted in many errors. Too often, the wrong card would get set out with an order.
This facility was shipping close to 10,000 orders per day, but the order volume had grown to about 20,000 orders per day. Peak season was between US Thanksgiving to Christmas (November to December) and leading up to Mother’s Day (mid-April to mid-May); to keep up with peak demand, the team of operators would grow from 5 to 15.
Focused on optimizing their process with strategic investments in automation, the Company began working with a Warehouse Integrator who helped them identify automation opportunities. Knowing that the custom greeting card process was the biggest bottleneck in the process, they spoke to several printing automation companies to find a way to automate the card printing and matching but it seemed impossible to automate the high end, high quality printing of customized cards.
Once approached by the Integrator, PSI designed a solution that combined the high-quality printing capability of the LaserMail 7000 (LM7000) and the Autoslip. Several tests at PSI’s facility proved that these products combined could handle high quality greeting card printing at high speeds. The LM 7000 would print the high-resolution greeting card + personalized message on the card stock. The cardstock was automatically fed into the Autoslip to be folded and inserted into a pouch. As the order passed the Autoslip on a conveyor, the pouch would be adhered to the outside of the box.
This customized automation solution allowed the company to double their normal output in a single shift and eliminated errors by ensuring that the correct cards were attached to the right order. Additionally, the Company saves over $100,000/year in labor costs by eliminating the need to hire seasonal labor during peak season.