Woolworths begins automated online centre build

Auburn Customer Fulfilment Centre in Western Sydney is a group first

Woolworths begins automated online centre build
Left to right: Knapp Australia MD Michael Kemeny, Woolworths head of non-retail development Luke Turner; Woolworths e-commerce director Annette Karantoni, minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres and Vaughan GM NSW Mark Cormack.


The quest for automation in large Australian distribution facilities has been further bolstered, with Woolworths Group building its first automated customer fulfilment centre (CFC) for Western Sydney.

Due to open in 2024, Woolworths’ 22,000 square metre Auburn Customer Fulfilment Centre is being construction by Vaughan Constructions and will be equipped with Knapp’s automation technology.

The technology will allow the hundreds of ‘personal shoppers’ employed at the site to pick and dispatch up to 50,000 home deliveries a week.

"Online grocery shopping is booming in Western Sydney as more and more customers look to reclaim time in their busy lives," Woolworths director of e-commerce Annette Karantoni said.

"Over the past two years alone, we’ve seen the demand for online groceries in Western Sydney more than triple.

"We need to continue investing in new capacity to keep pace with demand and rising customer expectations.

"The development of Auburn will provide a major boost to our same day delivery capacity in Western Sydney – unlocking faster and more flexible online shopping options for our customers. For added convenience, we’ll also offer pick up bays with a direct to boot service for local customers who prefer to collect online orders themselves."

Read about Primary Connect’s Adelaide DC expansion, here

The NSW Planning Department approved the ‘state significant’ development in June.

"Western Sydney never stops and it’s great to see businesses evolving to meet the changing demands of a busy population," minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said.

"Investing in facilities like this creates quality jobs closer to where people’s homes are as we reshape the way we live, work and shop in a 24-hour economy."

The Auburn CFC is aiming for a 5-Star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, with plans for rainwater harvesting, solar panels and electric vehicle charging facilities for delivery trucks.

Woolworths noted that its stores remain a key part of the e-commerce network, with investments continuing in Direct to Boot, in-store fulfilment and on-demand delivery. More than 80% of online orders are fulfilled by stores.

The development of the Auburn CFC builds on recent Woolworths investments in micro-fulfilment technology at its Carrum Downs, Victoria and Maroochydore, Queensland supermarkets.

Woolworths reported a 53 per cent increase in e-commerce sales in the quarter ended September and they now account for more than 11% of all sales.


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