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H-E-B Unveils New E-Commerce Fulfillment Center

From left to right: Fred Catala, operations leader; Ashley Barbee, e-commerce leader; Joe Fairchild, facility leader, e-commerce fulfillment operations; and Kedar Patel, VP of e-commerce.

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 10:43 am

San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B showcased its new e-commerce fulfillment center May 30 in Plano, Texas.

The facility will serve H-E-B’s new stores in north Texas with an automated fulfillment process. This is the company’s first service center of its kind in the area and is set to add 125 jobs, according to Joe Fairchild, facility leader, e-commerce fulfillment operations, NWFD.


The center is attached to the Plano H-E-B at 6001 Preston Road. Shelby Publishing’s Jan Meade was able to take a tour of the new facility, guided by Fairchild and other H-E-B e-commerce operations team members.

This center will serve the stores in Plano, McKinney and Frisco. Otherwise, the automated system will fill e-commerce orders for pickup at the relevant store. 

“For the stores that are not attached, the finished customer orders will ride the conveyor system down…an…elevator and a partner will actually be there to take them…then they’re loaded on a temperature-controlled truck and they’re taken out to the store that the customer is going to for curbside pickup. So the customer may show up at a curbside operation, get their groceries and they…are…none the wiser that this place exists,” Fairchild explained. 

The fulfillment center aims to simplify work as much as possible by taking the manual part out of fulfillment. 

“We really concentrate on having the partners – just like they would inside the store – shop for quality, make the decisions that they would inside a grocery store.”

The center’s automation focal point is around robots that pick items for orders. H-E-B partnered with international robotics vendors, Swisslog and AutoStore. The robots ride on a grid-like system above stacked products fulfilling either fully-stocked customer orders or finding the right products to be packed. Humans are still in charge of the specific products that go into a customer’s order. 

Fairchild explained the process from end to end while at one of the stations that a H-E-B partner will use to pack orders.

“So a customer goes and places an order on HEB.com. That order then comes to us and a partner is going to be standing at one of these stations, and they’re still making the decisions of what product to put in your basket based on your orders. The robots will drop the bin full of the (products) down. The system will tell the partner, ‘Hey, this is what you need.’

“A partner is going to shop your order, they’re going to bag it just like it’s bagged in the store. And they’re going to do that until your order is complete. Once your order is complete, they take that fully-loaded tote and push it onto a conveyor line where it goes to the attached store…

“The process is designed to be ergonomically friendly, it’s been quick and it allows us to open up capacity in our stores for more customers to use.”

The system is designed to keep often-ordered items close to the middle for quick acquisition, Fairchild continued.

The company has a total of six e-commerce fulfillment centers – four of which are attached to stores like the one in Plano. The other two are standalone centers in Houston and San Antonio. 

A short video of the fulfillment center can be found here.

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