E-commerce florist Arena Flowers has increased its production capacity by some 300% thanks to an automated gift card inserting, sorting and labelling solution from Kern, allowing redeployment of many staff and slashing its sorting, batching and mailing labour requirement.

The company delivers over two million bouquets of fresh flowers a year and prides itself on its ethical stance and customer service. Each bouquet is arranged and hand-tied, and may be further customised with additional non-floral products, including personalised greetings cards, but Arena wanted to automate the card inserting, sorting, addressing and courier label creation process to increase its capacity, particularly around peak times such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, when many last-minute orders arrive.

‘We wanted to reduce the reliance on manual labour involved in inserting cards into envelopes, scanning bar codes, creating address labels and the subsequent sorting into batches, according to date, courier, product type and gift add-ons,’ explained Arena CEO John Hackett.

‘We needed to find a way to introduce new levels of automation so looked at other industries to see what we could learn. A critical factor was that a new system would not compromise our personalised offer and be able to handle 15,000 orders per hour at peak times. High-speed mail and sortation technologies were an obvious solution and Kern’s in-depth approach impressed us the most. The determination of the team to understand our challenge and then tailor a system to future-proof our operations was impressive.’

The Kern solution was a bespoke mail inserting and sorting system involving an inserter machine to place greetings cards in envelopes and a sortation machine with barcode readers to sort cards into different batches to be matched with the correct bouquets. Going live just in time for Mother’s Day 2021, the system effectively tripled the peak capacity and allowed 46 members of staff to be re-deployed elsewhere in the business. It is anticipated that the investment will pay for itself within three years.


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