E-Commerce and Omnichannel Distribution in Logistics

Modular, Scalable and Sustainable Solutions and Services from a Single Source

E-commerce: an Intro

  • Online retail is booming and has gained even more momentum due to the pandemic and it will permanently change purchasing behavior. As such, retailers face the task of adapting their intralogistics to the growing volume of orders in the e-commerce sector while dealing with the need to strengthen their responsiveness in fragile, highly competitive markets at the same time.

  • This development has also been helped by those people who, before the pandemic, relied exclusively on brick-and-mortar retail and have now learned to appreciate the benefits of online shopping.

  • Consequently, expectations are high with regard to the constant availability of the products in demand, which customers expect to be delivered at their doorstep or made available for pickup within the shortest possible time.


Our answer: Precisely customized solutions for material handling from the modular system are needed to meet the high market requirements.

Mapping the new purchasing reality at the logistics level is a challenge for both retailers and manufacturers alike. E-commerce and omnichannel concepts place particularly high demands on efficient, fast and error-free order processing. What is needed are scalable, highly flexible systems with a customized degree of automation – turn-key from a single source and upgradeable and expandable at any time.

Equipped with the knowledge of the specific challenges in the respective industry, SSI SCHAEFER analyzes the processes and selects suitable modules together with you from a wide-ranging modular portfolio. Most of the precisely matched components and products including software originate from our own production and development. We at SSI SCHAEFER have already implemented many projects of various sizes. This means we can support our customers as a long-term partner in their efforts to further expand by offering individually tailored, growing system solutions for order fulfillment and returns management.

Across all industries, the new shopping reality is increasing pressure to install high-performance e-commerce and omnichannel logistics that can deal with order fulfillment tasks in a way that delivers a successful shopping experience for customers.

The primary and cross-industry focus is on

  • solutions for handling heterogeneous product assortments

  • 100% delivery capability even during spikes such as “Cyber Days” or “Black Friday”

  • short cycle times as well as high transparency for the customer

  • efficient handling of smaller delivered quantities as well as single-item orders and the processing of prioritized premium orders

  • zero-error picking

  • fast, as well as cost-optimized, returns processing

  • government regulations, such as weight restrictions for order picking

  • ergonomic factors, as workforces age and an attractive work environment can also solve the problem of skilled worker shortages.

Rigid systems that can only be changed at great expense are not a solution in the medium to long term. To avoid restrictions, multichannel providers rely on flexible, modular, scalable and sustainable intralogistics that can be adapted step by step to changing product assortments and increased order volumes. Preferably these are also from a single source so as to rule out interface problems.

However, because the end customer is not willing to accept a higher price for the product ordered online, the systems must also be designed in such a way that:

  • fewer costs are incurred for processing the e-commerce orders and returns

  • End-to-end transparency of warehouse inventory is created, so that the customer can rely on the promised delivery date.


There are no off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions, as the requirements differ depending on the industry, the size of the company and the location.

Companies expect their solution provider

  • to offer a broad, modular portfolio of proven manual and fully automatic performance components from a single source and

  • to combine these based on in-depth industry expertise to create a total system solution that covers the individual requirements profile precisely and without compromise.

SSI SCHAEFER serves this catalog of requirements by offering turnkey intralogistics systems from a single source to medium and large corporations as well as start-ups, which have already been tried and tested for years, especially in wholesale and retail, food retail, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry and fashion.

e-commerce retail wholesale

The challenge in retail is usually to find a way to channel a diverse product assortment flexibly and efficiently:

  • For example, in the furniture industry, heavy and bulky goods often have to be handled, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders among employees. For this reason, greater emphasis is being placed on ergonomically optimized working environments.

  • Flexibility is crucial for 3PL service providers, as customers usually only sign short-term contracts. For them, multi-client-capable material handling systems and software are essential.

All these factors must be considered when implementing e-commerce or omnichannel strategies in retail. Perfectly combined manual and/or semi-automated modules from SSI SCHAEFER that meet your demand for high-level flexibility are ideal for getting started:

  1. The SSI LOGIMAT® vertical lift module is one way to efficiently store and pick small goods. This makes it possible to make optimal use of the existing hall volume without complex installations.

  2. In order to reduce walking distances, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can be used. The number can be successively increased as required. This means high flexibility, as no rails or conveyor elements are required and existing interfering contours can easily be taken into account.

  3. Maximum storage capacity in a small footprint can also be achieved with the Picktower, a multi-level, walk-in rack system for small-sized items.

  4. If manual and semi-automated modules no longer provide the required performance and capacity as the company develops, automatic storage-retrieval machines or shuttle systems are available.

  5. In terms of performance and ergonomics, the concept of the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution® with integrated goods-to-person workstations is particularly impressive.

  6. At the same time, the retail sector has been increasingly relying on robots, which are also controlled by the WAMAS® logistics software and are equally suitable for the automatic handling of small parts and pallet goods. Robots have the enormous advantage that they relieve your staff of monotonous and unhealthy tasks, and work error-free and at a consistent performance level. This also eliminates the need to train new employees.

By using flexibly combinable modules, we create solutions that are perfectly tailored to your individual requirements and that enable you as a retailer to process your e-commerce orders quickly, securely and efficiently.

e-commerce food retail

Scalable Material Handling for Every Taste

In Food Retail hardly a week goes by without new products appearing on supermarket shelves and growing e-grocery trend calls for new distribution channels. In addition, there are the following challenges:

  • setting up temperature-controlled storage, picking and shipping areas in order to ensure that fresh and frozen foods are not damaged.

  • on the last mile it needs to be ensured that the goods always reach the customer in the desired condition and with an unbroken cold chain.

  • the legal requirements regarding hygiene, best before dates and traceability, which are constantly being supplemented by new regulations.

Warehouse Development Steps for your e-commerce or omnichannel strategy in food retailing:

  1. In order to meet this complex industry requirement profile, basic packages are ideal as a first step, e.g. manual racking systems for fast movers and seasonal goods, which allow direct access to the goods and can also be easily adapted at any time. They can be flexibly filled and easily expanded as product assortments grow.

  2. If performance requirements increase, you can add the SSI LOGIMAT® warehouse vertical lift module and/or automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which relieve your employees, enable a constant material flow and make optimum use of the space in the warehouse, as well as being predestined to simplify the entry into automation.

  3. For medium and slow movers, SSI SCHAEFER offers the SSI Miniload, a classic automatic small parts warehouse with storage-retrieval machines. This allows for efficient handling of a large number of SKUs at medium to high order volumes. In addition, it is very well suited as an automated warehouse for excess stock or pre-picked goods.

  4. The SSI Carrier, our trade press award-winning pocket sorter, is the ideal optimization of two-stage picking - whether it is handled as "person-to-goods", or "goods-to-person". The goods are sorted to the customer orders and sequenced within the orders according to predefined rules.

  5. Our various shuttle systems allow fast and flexible access to the goods and thus meet your demand for increasing performance through automation.

  6. Alternatively or in addition, robots, including our WAMAS® logistics software, support the processes and ensure high picking accuracy with consistent performance and excellent traceability, which is especially important for the fresh produce sector.

  7. The intelligent SSI Case Picking System combines various system modules along the intralogistics process chain into a reliable overall solution for store-specific palletizing of retail units. This solution lets food retailers benefit from automatically perfectly packed pallets and trolleys for efficient delivery to their stores.  This ensures adherence to all regulations and that your goods are always delivered to the “last mile” in perfect condition.

Coop - Everthing in Stock

Case Study Coop

Firmly rooted in Switzerland, the Coop Group can look back on a history spanning 150 years. What began as a small consumer cooperative is now an international retail and wholesale business.

e-commerce healthcare & cosmetics

How to handle Sensitive Products Gently and Safely in a Rush

Flexibility for traceability and for a high level of service is required

A major challenge here is to find suitable intralogistics systems that can also be used to cover issues such as legal requirements, for example for prescription drugs (Rx), adequate packaging, and the preparation and processing of ready-picked orders. Critical here are the requirements, in part stemming from legal regulations, with regard to traceability / batch and serial number handling, etc., which are also becoming increasingly stringent and require functional logistics software.

Last but not least, “Click & Collect” is gaining in importance, which requires a high degree of adherence to deadlines. Also, online pharmacies are growing rapidly. They need to provide a high level of service, meet same-day/next-day delivery commitments, and be able to handle peaks. The latter also applies to cosmetics suppliers, who depend on highly flexible intralogistics, as future order volumes are difficult to estimate.

A huge challenge is found in classic peak sales days such as on Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Women’s Day, etc., which need to be handled through the warehouse without causing delivery delays. Furthermore, the prerequisites must be created to handle sensitive products gently and to be able to integrate value-added services, such as the addition of gift packaging and greeting cards.

Meeting the requirements with special solutions for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry

  1. As a first step, SSI SCHAEFER supports pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies as they prepare to enter the market by offering modules such as manual racking systems.

  2. With continued success and increasing order volume, you can easily switch to Pick by Light systems that visually guide pickers, as well as batch processes where multiple orders are processed in parallel. This helps reduce walking distances and saves time. The defect rate also falls.

  3. You can achieve even higher performance values by using automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which operate individually or as part of a fleet, or small sorter solutions.

  4. As business volume increases and market share grows, your system simply grows with it: for example, by combining a manual or semi-automatic solution with the SSI SCHAEFER A-Frame, which automatically picks up to 40,000 products per hour, whether cylindrical or cuboid.

  5. For additional automation steps and higher performance, the use of shuttle solutions, robots and/or the SSI Carrier in combination with the high-performance logistics software WAMAS® can be useful.

The step-by-step expansion has the advantage of avoiding oversizing during the initial phase, making investments in the operational foundation of your e-commerce and/or multichannel strategy more manageable, or allowing them to be calculated step-by-step. This way, you can tackle the next optimization steps and stay ahead of any surprises.



SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE, one of Continental Europe’s leading online pharmacies, commissioned SSI SCHAEFER to equip their new logistics center in Sevenum, the Netherlands. The highly automated solution will increase the possible shipping volume to more than 35 million parcels per year and has been designed for zero-error tolerance and 24/7 operations. The investment is in the medium double-digit million range.

e-commerce fashion

Permanently Available

The concern of reaching fulfillment limits is driving fashion suppliers, logistics managers and CEP service providers alike. As a consequence, the demand for suitable concepts is increasing in order to be able to operate economically and unerringly across all sales channels.

Here, too, there is a trend toward omnichanneling so as to be able to supply both brick-and-mortar retailers and end customers directly.

Challenges associated with this are:

  • extremely heterogeneous product assortment as well as seasonal changes and the associated requirements for flexible storage, picking and sorting processes

  • high return rates as consumers often make use of the free return option

  • click & collect requirements must be mapped at the intralogistics level

These complex requirements can be fully covered with the SSI Carrier:

Designed in a modular construction, the pouch sorter can be used either as a stand-alone solution, in combination with manual storage and picking applications, or as a shuttle system. One advantage, especially for fashion logistics, is the ability to transport, distribute, buffer, sort and sequence both hanging and lying goods gently and reliably.

The entire process is controlled by the modern and user-friendly WAMAS® logistics software. Optimal interfaces to customer systems ensure seamless integration into almost any type of warehouse. In addition to monitoring the system and controlling the material flow, WAMAS® also takes care of tracking the goods and visualization with WAMAS® Lighthouse.

SSI Carrier, overhead conveying system, pouch sorter, pouch conveyor, conveying

Case Study Fenix Outdoor Logistics

Carhartt WIP 3D Depiction

SSI SCHAEFER extends logistics center of fashion company Carhartt WIP

No elements available.

Which E-commerce Fulfillment Solution is Best for Your Business?

Which E-commerce Fulfillment Solution is Best for Your Business?

Click here to download a Best Practice Guide to getting started or retrofitting your fulfillment solution.
Do you have questions or remarks?