Earlier this week, I did a tour of the Mary Kay warehouse serving the Chicago and Midwest region.
The warehouse uses a pick to light process. There are lots of boxes with orders in them going down the line. Lackadaisical workers could easily mess this up, miss a box or not put the correct products in. However Mary Kay has a seasoned staff in the warehouse with most workers who are permanent employees there having more than 5 years experience. Employees are rotated to various parts of the line which I think helps employees stay focus on what they are doing. Company culture is a strong support of their employees. It shows. My guess is that while there warehouse staff is probably more expensive than average with their longevity, but getting the orders out correctly is what makes this worthwhile economically.
There are limits to automation. Their sku’s are changing so picking equipment would not work as product shapes and sizes are constantly changing. Sku’s are limited to about 1000 to keep the current process in shape.
I suspect that they will look at what Staples has done with various box sizes to improve transportation utilization. Right now, from what I can tell, boxes are limited to three sizes.