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Rent The Runway: Enabling Automation-Driven Warehouse Robotics
with MongoDB Atlas

INDUSTRIES

e-commerce & Retail
Consumer Services
Manufacturing

PRODUCTS

MongoDB Atlas
Atlas App Services App Development Svcs
MongoDB Support

INITIATIVE/USE CASES

Business Agility
Analytics
AI & Machine Learning

CUSTOMER SINCE

2019
INTRODUCTION

Disrupting the fashion industry with a Closet in the Cloud

Founded in 2009, Rent The Runway (RTR) is disrupting the trillion-dollar fashion industry. RTR is changing the way we get dressed by pioneering the Closet in the Cloud, the world’s first and largest shared designer closet. Through RTR, customers can subscribe, rent items a-la-carte, and shop resale from more than 750 designer brands: from formal wear and accessories to ready-to-wear, workwear, denim, casual, maternity, outerwear, blouses, knitwear, loungewear, jewelry, handbags, activewear, ski wear, home goods, and kidswear.

Managing this inventory, cleaning, delivery, and returns is complex and involves a great deal of effort to identify individual items and route them in the correct way through the warehouse and the cleaning process.

THE CHALLENGE

Transforming garment management through automation

Rent The Runway provides its customers with thousands of designer styles to rent at a fraction of their retail value. Currently, two fulfillment centers, located in Secaucus, NJ, and Arlington, TX, are responsible for handling incoming garments, cleaning them, and shipping them to the next customer as quickly as possible.

When an item is returned to a fulfillment center after being rented by a customer, it is sorted into one of 20+ possible cleaning methods based on, among other things, its color, fabric, and the type of cleaning process best suited for the specific unit. The pockets of each item are checked for forgotten items before they are washed, such as lipstick. Performing these tasks manually is time-consuming and tedious, so RTR has focused on automating the process to drive efficiencies.

“Our goal is to automate the movement of goods to streamline our processes, which is why we invested in robotic arms and X-ray machines,” explained Mike Liberant, Director of Engineering, Rent The Runway. “The X-ray machines detect items that may have been left behind in the clothing, while the robotic arms ensure each item is sorted into the correct bin for cleaning.”

Mike Liberant, Director of Engineering, Rent The Runway

RTR sought to operationalize this equipment on an extremely tight timeframe. This required a robust, flexible, and intuitive database platform to handle the vast amounts of data being generated.

“The engineering team was set on a race against time to make sure our software was ready before the automation hardware was custom built and installed,” said Liberant. “We had two months to stand up a new data-driven service that would integrate testing and analytics.”

“We stood up a new data-driven service that would integrate testing and analytics in two months.”

Mike Liberant, Director of Engineering, Rent The Runway

THE SOLUTION

MongoDB Atlas real-time analysis supporting automation

MongoDB Atlas offers best-in-class automation and proven practices that support availability, scalability, and compliance with data security and privacy standards.

For example, RTR worked with us to deploy MongoDB Atlas and MongoDB Atlas Triggers to manage the underlying data supporting a robotic arm that sorts garments into bins for cleaning. Incoming garments are X-rayed, then sorted by the robotic arm, which detects RFID tags in each item and puts it in the appropriate bin based on its given attributes. Each data event fires a Atlas App Services Trigger that instantaneously executes pre-defined application and database logic – replicating and modifying data across systems.

RTR worked with MongoDB to build six dedicated clusters supporting its warehouse and fulfillment center.

“Anything data-related gets copied to our data warehousing system, giving us real-time analytics around performance,” continued Liberant.

MongoDB provides a dynamic schema that allows RTR to quickly iterate solutions while ingesting analytics data and integrating the automation hardware.

THE RESULTS

A significant reduction in processing time

The result has been a significant decrease in processing time, which helps RTR manage inventory capacity and availability. MongoDB Atlas will scale its solutions to accommodate RTR as its operations evolve.

“Scalability is a big factor in this project’s success, as is the ability to quickly introduce new technology and features to our warehouse processes,” said Liberant. “We also benefit from the code-first, dynamic data modeling approach MongoDB makes possible, which reduces the cognitive load on our engineers.”

“MongoDB Atlas helps us process our garments quickly and accurately, which in turn helps us continue to deliver better, faster service to our customers,” he concluded.

“MongoDB Atlas helps us process our garments quickly and accurately, which in turn helps us continue to deliver better, faster service to our customers.”

Mike Liberant, Director of Engineering, Rent The Runway

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