Starting in July, Quidsi, Inc will try to dominate drugstore retailers with Soap.com, an online megastore that will sell 25,000 products - everything from toilet paper to makeup. According to Quidsi's recent press release Soap.com will offer next day delivery for most of the country for free! How can they manage such fast order placement? Robots. As seen in the video below, KIVA robots allow Quidsi's first megastore, Diapers.com, to turn their warehouse into a well oiled package processing machine. These same bots could help Soap.com conquer the world...of bathroom goods.
Quidsi struck gold in 2005 with the launch of Diapers.com by creating a super-reliable online retail outlet for baby products. The site sold more than $180 million last year, and is projected to hit $300 million for 2010. Soap.com could have a similar trajectory. The KIVA robotics system, as we've seen before, dramatically increases warehouse processing speed to keep up with the large orders that come through. Robots bring products to humans who stand in place, picking and sorting quickly. It's a great example of how man and machine working together can maximize the efficiency of each.
With Soap.com, this system will become even more necessary as there will be 25,000 items and 900 brands to be found in the warehouse. And that's just for the initial launch in July. By the end of 2010 there will be 40k products and 100k by the end of 2011. All at prices up to 25% less than at neighborhood stores. That's going to really boost Soap.com's sales.
Online retail is already a huge industry, and it's only getting bigger as customers come to trust that the goods they order will arrive quickly and cheaply. Whether or not Quidsi is the one to do it, the $100+ billion drugstore market it going to get pulled online. As so many others have and will. Automated warehouses are one key ingredient in making it happen. Not exactly what I expected when I thought about robots giving people bubble baths, but hey, the future is full of suprises.