• Completed a collaborative validation project to assess a proposed warehouse optimisation solution against cutting edge AI.
  • Provided expert guidance to optimise the trolley assignment process.
  • Collaboration highlighted the effectiveness of the internal solution.
  • Successful initial partnership sets the stage for future collaborations and advancements in warehouse operations.


In 2023, James and James Fulfilment (hereafter James and James) sought external AI consultancy from Icarus Logic, to review their processes and propose improvements using the latest AI developments. Paul conducted a Discovery phase, identifying quick wins, with a focus on optimising the trolley assignment process. In the Exploration phase, Paul collaborated with James and James to create a proof of concept that showcased the potential efficiencies of AI. Although the trolley assignment project didn’t immediately result in a partnership, Paul is enthusiastic about the possibility of future collaborations.


James and James was founded in 2010 by two Cambridge graduates, James Hyde and James Strachan, who were frustrated with the challenges they faced while selling honey online. Dissatisfied with existing fulfilment companies’ outdated systems and inefficiencies, they decided to establish their own fulfilment company. Since then, James and James has experienced remarkable growth, boasting a team of over 250 employees, an international network of fulfilment centres, a multitude of satisfied clients, and valuable partnerships to facilitate further expansion. With fulfilment centres located in the UK, US, EU, and soon Australia, James and James can assist businesses in reaching both local and global customers. Their services include stocking inventory in multiple locations, offering fast and cost-effective shipping worldwide, and streamlining operations through standardised processes and technology. The company’s fulfilment centres are specifically designed for fast-moving consumer brands, ensuring efficient order processing with a 98.0% same-day despatch rate and 99.9% pick and pack accuracy. James and James prides itself on providing reliable service, regardless of a business’s rapid growth or significant sales spikes.

The Opportunity

In 2023, James and James reached out to Paul at Icarus Logic offering him a tour of their operations in Northampton knowing that his experience and expertise in warehouse and logistics operations could provide some valuable insights. James and James developed and operate their own bespoke warehouse management system and have their own in-house development team. James and James had ambitious projects in the pipeline focused on the scalability and efficiency of their warehouses planned in the next year. They wanted to bring in some external AI consultancy to review their existing processes, their proposed changes, and advise on if and where there was opportunity for greater improvements using the latest developments in AI.

Paul at Icarus Logic is an exceptional expert in the latest AI technologies and data analysis. His invaluable contributions greatly aided decision making at James and James’, making him a valuable asset in realising the potential of AI for efficient warehouse operations. With years of experience and insightful guidance, Paul is a trusted partner in driving innovation and efficiency.

– Paul Wright, CTO, James and James.

The Story

Phase 1: Discovery

The journey began with a visit to the fulfilment centre in Northampton to meet with some key members of the senior technology team who were able to outline the processes, algorithms and architecture of the current warehouse management system. The day included expansive conversations and explorations around the existing technology and datasets as well as a tour of the warehouse in operation.

Building on the initial meeting, Paul swiftly identified several “quick wins,” particularly focusing on optimising the trolley assignment process—a subject he was passionate about, given his extensive experience in optimising warehouses operated by Ocado. It was agreed that the trolley assignment process would be the focus of the Exploration Phase as it was part of an existing initiative.

Phase 2: Exploration

During this phase, Paul collaborated closely with James and James to scope out the trolley assignment project, manipulating a subset of historic data to apply an off-the-shelf optimisation algorithm to estimate the size of the prize. This algorithm, utilising a warehouse map he created, estimated walk distances and designed an idealised trolley path, maximising efficiency. 

The proof of concept incorporated a cutting-edge solver and yielded remarkable results, demonstrating the potential for significant improvements in efficiency and return on investment:

  • Efficiency resource improvements of 10% – 20%: The AI-powered solution identified strategic opportunities to optimise resource allocation, potentially leading to substantial operational enhancements.
  • Operative walk reduction of 35% – 53%: By intelligently optimising trolley routes, the solution significantly reduced operative walking distances, potentially saving valuable time and effort.
  • Positive impact on employee welfare: The improved efficiency not only translated into potential monetary savings but also potentially positively impacted employee well-being, creating a more streamlined and productive work environment.

The off-the-shelf solver’s flexibility allows for future customisation and tailoring the solution to James and James’ specific business needs. AI algorithms allow for scalability by automating and optimising various processes that were traditionally performed manually or required custom development. These algorithms can efficiently handle large datasets, adapt to changing conditions, enabling businesses to scale their operations seamlessly without significant increases in human resources or development costs. 

The estimated timeline for the entire Design Phase through Realisation Phase would be 3-6 months. This anticipated duration reflects the meticulous planning and comprehensive approach that Icarus Logic adopts to ensure a successful implementation.

Paul’s in-depth assessment, accompanied by easy-to-understand figures and recommendations, provided the necessary evidence to validate James and James’ internal proposal against a cutting edge AI solution. The resulting recommendation made to James and James was that the algorithm that was already under their consideration performed substantially better than their current algorithm. Additionally, a metric to measure the effectiveness of their algorithm was proposed, facilitating ongoing performance evaluation and fine-tuning.

Remember we don’t do snake oil at Icarus Logic! We’ll only recommend genuine and impactful solutions.

Next Steps

Although this project was limited to the validation of an existing internal solution, Icarus Logic remains in close contact with James and James. The focus is on identifying the right opportunity in the future, potentially even in 2023. The team at Icarus Logic is enthusiastic about contributing to James and James’ success when the perfect opportunity arises.

I was very excited to work with the team at James and James. The warehouse operation space and AI’s capabilities within it has built much of my career and I am passionate about helping businesses like James and James. There is so much untapped potential for businesses in warehouse operations to utilise AI to drive their results and improve their operations both for their customers and their employees. I will look forward to seeing where we can support James and James in the future. I know my work here has helped them validate the direction of their trolley assignment project, identified some other areas that may produce quick wins in the short and long term and just generally appreciating what is possible for them within the AI space.

– Paul Heideman, Director and Consultant, Icarus Logic

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