Grant Thornton supports Booktopia with robotic technology

30 November 2023 3 min. read

Currently shipping six million units per year, Booktopia was getting cramped for space. Grant Thornton helped the online retailer set up a new distribution centre with automated technologies.

Accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton has helped Australian online book retailer Booktopia to declutter its shelves ahead of the busy season by bringing in the robots.

Faced with a warehouse distribution maze featuring 1.6 kilometers of conveyor belts ferrying thousands of the six million-plus titles it has on offer, Booktopia engaged Grant Thornton’s retail management consulting team to review its supply chain operations.

Grant Thornton supports Booktopia with robotic technology

Founded in Sydney in 2004 to take on the might of Amazon, Booktopia has grown to command more than half of the local market share with revenues currently around the $200 million mark. The company however hit a post-pandemic speed-bump (recently departed, former Deloitte, Kroll, and KordaMentha forensics leader Abigail Cheadle joined the board amid internal ructions), in part due to the higher costs associated with its order picking set-up.

With Booktopia struggling with bottlenecks after having reached capacity at its former, retrofitted distribution warehouse, Grant Thornton following its review recommended the consolidation of its two sites into the single customer fulfilment centre (CFC), flexibly designed with a view to future expansion and kitted out with mobile robots and the latest in automative technology to improve product flow and deliver faster and more accurate packing.

“The goal of this project was to bring Booktopia into a new era to provide a better experience for our customers and our people,” stated recently-appointed CEO David Nenke. “We are grateful for the support and guidance of Grant Thornton throughout this journey. Their retail management consulting team completely understood the importance of aligning the solution and design of our new CFC with our business strategy and customer needs.”

In addition to conducting its initial review, Grant Thornton also provided end-to-end program management from design and transition planning through to implementation and build, further supporting Booktopia with procuring and managing a new warehouse management system, new infrastructure, packaging automation and conveyors. The scalable, future-proofed CFC now has a one-way flow of books from receiving to dispatch.

Grant Thornton partner Richard Bycroft said he was proud of the outcome. “It was a challenging but rewarding experience that showcased our capabilities in supply chain transformation, technology implementation, and change management. As project managers we believe it’s crucial to roll up our sleeves, and we made sure the new centre’s functionality was properly tested, worked as scoped, and that the team members were thoroughly trained.”

Somewhat ironically, the Booktopia catalogue includes the title ‘Helping Himself; or, Grant Thornton’s Ambition’, from 19th-century American ‘rags-to-riches’ author Horatio Alger Junior. Coming up on its own US centenary next year, what is now the world’s seventh-largest network of its kind took its name from founder Alexander Grant, the business later merging with UK firm Thornton Baker and changing its name exactly 100 years on from the book’s publishing date in 1886.