Fulfillment warehouse robots are having a moment as online shopping continues to increase during the pandemic. The hot market for autonomous fulfillment solutions has helped Locus Robotics, which makes autonomous mobile robots for use in fulfillment warehouses, raise an additional $40 million during a successful Series D this week.
“Automation has proven to be a critical solution for retail and third-party logistics businesses during this challenging time,” says Tony Palcheck, Senior Director, Zebra Ventures, which led Locus’ Series D. “As the retail industry continues to shift to e-commerce, Locus Robotics’ warehouse automation will help businesses meet the demands of this ‘new normal,’ ensuring that customers can increase operational efficiency to meet requirements for fast, accurate delivery.”
Locus Robotics makes autonomous mobile robots that operate collaboratively with human workers to improve piece-handling productivity as much as 2X-3X, with less labor compared to traditional picking systems. The robots are aimed at helping 3PLs and specialty warehouses efficiently meet the increasingly complex and demanding requirements of fulfillment environments, which now include social distancing restrictions — something robots don’t have to worry about.
“We have recently seen a dramatic disruption of retail with e-commerce growth as high as 400% year-over-year in some categories. And others were severely limited as the bulk of their inventory was in stores that they could not get into due to lockdowns. It’s critical that retailers are prepared for direct fulfillment from the warehouse,” said Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group. “This announcement underscores the need for companies to prepare for today’s new labor challenges that will be impacted by the significant volume increases that are already occurring. Companies investing now in warehouse automation, particularly AMRs, will be better positioned for success in the post-pandemic economy as they can support sales from any channel.”
A client recently requested that they move off Shopify and onto WordPress. I’m happy to help with technical issues for my clients, but as I dug around for hosting plans and domain registrations, a few things became very clear:
Managed WordPress Hosting
For years, I have used a hosting company. As my site grew and required more resources, it became evident that I needed to get serious about my host and amove to a managed WordPress host. What’s the difference? Regular hosting companies allocate their servers across multiple platforms. They often have their own, branded HTML editor as well as myriad other platforms. A managed WordPress host focuses strictly on WordPress and nothing else.
The benefits are significant. Servers are configured correctly for WordPress. This is no light task. Setting WP up is a really unpleasant experience. You’ll experience faster responses, tech support that knows their stuff and can determine WP-specific errors and fix them quickly. Further, since the focus is on WP, you’ll be able to avoid conflicting security plug-ins, access development tools and add higher levels of performance such as CDN (content delivery network) and easily set up staging and collaborative workspaces. And there’s a triple bonus: free site migration (yes)!
I recommend Flywheel as a preferred managed WordPress host. Their response rate is phenomenal and their pricing is very competitive, Further, they offer a seriously easy to use interface and tools that let me focus on client relations and design instead of technical problems.
Last month, Flywheel was acquired by WP Engine. From their press release:
WP Engine, as Brunner describes it, focuses largely on mid-market and larger businesses, while Flywheel — founded and currently based out of Omaha — has focused on smaller businesses. That makes the two natural complements to each other, but Brunner notes that there will be more gained from the union.
“The team there is very product-focused,” she noted. “They’ve built a suite that we feel has been focused around small agencies, but they are also the types of tools that larger agencies will benefit from.” She is referring to the product Local by Flywheel, a local development application used by more than 150,000 developers.
Flywheel, founded in 2012, had only raised around $6 million in funding, including a $4 million round several years ago. The economies of scale of throwing in its lot with WP Engine will give it a much wider exposure and access to new customers.
If you’re shopping for a managed WP host, Flywheel definitely ranks. It would be worth your while to try their trial to evaluate how easy they make developing WP sites.
Here’s the formal pitch:
Flywheel Platform Video
Renewing your domain is probably the most important detail of your online store. And the least sexy. I’ve chosen a .ink domain which made renewing it previously an expensive chore.
Until I found porkbun.com. Yes, the name is snicker-worthy, but this Portland, Oregon-based registrar is by far the cheapest when renewing esoteric domains (.ink, .abagado, .bar, etc.). I easily saved 50% off which made renewing a little bit less painful.
As mentioned earlier, the internet has seen a new generation of top-level domains known as “new generic TLDs” or simply, ngTLDs. These are top-level domains that have been introduced by ICANN in recent years and don’t fit the same mold as a .com or .net. In October of 2013, ICANN announced that the first batch of ngTLDs was delegated into the internet’s root zone (the top of the DNS hierarchy which contains all of the delegations for top-level domains).
The very first ngTLD was .guru, and it was made available to the public in February of 2014. Following the success of .guru, a number of ngTLDs like .club and .link were introduced and were welcomed by new domain buyers. In June of 2014, .xyz was introduced, and two years later, more than six million domains were registered using this ngTLD.
— Source: DreamHost.com
I write a lot about ecommerce and, indeed, working on ecommerce sites is the bulk of my business.
[caption id="attachment_2282" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Select STORE from the top menu to begin.[/caption]
So I thought it was time to demonstrate my skills in real, live, concrete ways. I’ve decided to create the cgk.ink store as a sort of teaching tool so that you can see the mechanizations and processes behind running an effective online retail store yourself.
I plan on using this as a workshop of sorts where I put into play a lot of the things I talk about in concrete ways. This is a fully functioning ecommerce site and the products are very real — as will be the charge to your card if you decide to buy.
Wherever you see ⊕ means that there is a pop up that explains in more detail exactly what that component does, why it’s there and resources to explore.
The first installment is all about a rapidly growing type of ecommerce that is akin to drop shipping but with a twist: Direct to Garment (DTG) print fulfillment. Companies like Printify, Printful, Art in America, etc. have been around for a while. Essentially the process works like this:
Sounds pretty simple. And it is, but there are several concerns to address as well as unique marketing opportunities. Which images work best? How do you optimize an image that is being displayed in a different medium? How do you price your item?
Let’s explore our first steps together.]]>
- You select an image or design
- You transmit that to the selected company
- They take a blank item (T-shirt, plate, mug — the product list grows every day) and using their own machinery imprint the design on the item which someone has selected on your customer-facing web site.
- You enjoy the fact that there are no upfront costs, no inventory to keep and the printer ships and fulfills the item directly to your customer.
- You collect the profit which is your retail price – the manufacturer’s cost.