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Staples expands next-day delivery with AI-based picking robots

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Staples Inc. is deploying an autonomous robotic item-handling system.

The office products giant is implementing the RightHand Robotics RightPick 4 artificial intelligence (AI)-based robotic picking solution. The RightPick system is an autonomous item-handling robot equipped with a sensor suite and RightPick AI software that is designed to pick items of different shapes, packaging, sizes and weight. 

Collaborating with Staples, RightHand Robotics developed new features that the company says have nearly doubled the range of items that a RightPick station can handle while reducing the number of required interventions by 80%. As a result, Staples intends to offer next-day delivery to more than 98% of the U.S.

"Managing an industry-leading distribution and fulfillment network with various levels of AI and automation, Staples has long been an innovator in the U.S. market. We have always valued automation, and we see it as the future of e-commerce picking," said Amit Kalra, chief supply chain officer at Staples. "After evaluating other solutions, the RightPick system met our high performance and reliability standards, picking items with different shapes, packaging, sizes, and weight."

"Our RightPick system sets a new standard in the flexibility, autonomy, and reliability of warehouse robotics," said Brian Owen, CEO of RightHand Robotics. "We're thrilled that Staples recognized the benefits of using our technology to further enhance their automation strategy. It's great to team up with an established industry leader to optimize their fulfillment operations."

Staples cuts packaging, partners with online delivery platforms

Staples is focusing on the efficiency and scale of its delivery operation. The company has been working with sustainable packaging company Packsize to reduce the amount of packaging material in its supply chain as it increases its engagement with several leading third-party delivery providers. 

The retailer has offered same-day delivery from its U.S. retail stores in collaboration with Instacart since June 2020. It participated in the Instacart “Big and Bulky” same-day delivery program for large items since August 2022 and Instacart Business business-to-business marketplace since February 2023. 

In addition, Staples began collaborating with same-day delivery provider DoorDash in August 2023. Nearly 1,000 U.S. Staples stores are now available on the DoorDash marketplace. This partnership builds upon Staples’ participation in DoorDash’s first-ever back-to-school hub, launched in July 2023.

Headquartered in Framingham, Mass., Staples Inc. operates nearly 1,000 stores, with a Staples retail store located within 10 miles of more than half of the U.S. population.

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