Market Report: Sortation Equipment 2023

Executive Summary

Market growth has slowed post-pandemic but is underpinned by ongoing labour shortages and retailers’ competitive need to innovate

Retailers, 3pls & carriers are key users

  • The focus of this report is on unit and parcel sortation
  • Retailers, 3pls and parcel carriers represent 85% of the global market. Other industries which use sortation equipment are airports, food / drink and pharma
  • The big retailers are leaders in innovation: adopting new technology such as robotics, and changing operations, eg moving to more / smaller dcs in centres of population
  • Parcel carriers sort the greatest variety of items and need the highest speeds to meet tight schedules

A multi-bn $ market growing at 5+% pa

  • Analysts believe sortation equipment to be a multi-bn dollar global market, growing by at least 5% per year
  • Interviewee comments confirmed strong demand up to and during the covid-19 pandemic
  • Since the pandemic, most interviewees report slowing in demand with projects frequently delayed. Recession fears in the us and the significant slowdown in online retail in china are concerns. However, the leading retailers in particular continue to invest
  • Longer term, most interviewees expect demand to increase, but not to levels seen during the pandemic

Key drivers are neutral / positive

  • The market is influenced by key user market performance – in particular online retail and parcels – but other factors, such as availability of labour and other inputs, and technological development, are also very important
  • Whilst overall retail sales growth is expected to continue at 5-6%, a similar rate to historical trends, both online retail and parcels are forecast to grow more slowly than pre-pandemic levels – at around 8% for each
  • Increased use of automation is encouraged by labour shortages – a function of current, and forecast, historically low levels of global unemployment
  • Supply chain disruption has eased significantly during 2023, but there are still some reports of specific shortages, such as gear motors and some project delays

Cross-belt sorters are ‘gold standard’

  • Conveyor sorting is a relatively mature technology. The different types of conveyor sorters do much the same thing
  • Cross belt sorters appear to be most widely-used and are seen as the current ‘gold standard’, but for less demanding applications, other types are sometimes better suited and cheaper
  • Choice is driven by key requirements: item size and type, throughput / speed required, business forecast, budget
  • Pouch sorters are widely used for picking and unit sortation within distribution centres
  • The key area of innovation is in robots, which are being used ever more widely. Robot sortation systems are far more flexible and faster to install, and they require less space. They are increasingly seen as an option for entire sortation operations for all but high end applications
  • The cost comparison is less clear: robots offer potential for savings but the much newer technology is less proven and has a greater degree of execution risk and potential for cost overruns

Ongoing m&a has led to consolidation

  • There has been a relatively stable transaction level in the sortation equipment market

New entrants mainly in robotics

  • The number of vendors grew steadily up to the 2000s. Most recent entrants, and most funding, has involved robotics

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Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Market definition
  • Markets served
  • Market size & growth
  • Market drivers
  • Sortation equipment
  • Sorter design & selection
  • Sector demographics
  • Vendor directory
  • Credits & list of interviews


  • ADDVERB (CEO EMEA) (Sortation Equipment)
  • Ambi Robotics (CEO)
  • Cellumation (Head of Sales & Marketing)
  • Conductix-Wampfler (Global Market Director) (Industrial Automation)
  • Conveyco (VP of Marketing and Business Development)
  • Covariant (Head of Global Partner Strategy & Channel Sales)
  • eSort (Partner)
  • Ferag (SVP Sales)
  • Fidus Global (Director of Operations)
  • Fives (Applications Director)
  • Gebhardt Intralogistics (Head of Sales Sortation Technologies)
  • Geek+ (Head of Product Sortation)
  • Hatmill (Partner)
  • Hytrol (Marketing Manager)
  • Interroll (Sorter Solutions Sales Director)
  • Intralox (Product Manager)
  • Knapp (Executive Director Sales Marketing)
  • Libiao (Head of Overseas Support)
  • Lockars (CEO)
  • Marel Food Logistics (Area Sales Manager)
  • Mews Partners (Partner)
  • Muratec (National Sales Manager)
  • Murrelektronik (KAM)
  • Mushiny (CMO)
  • Nord (Key Market Specialist -) (Intralogistics)
  • NPI Sorters (COO)
  • Omnia Whee (Sales Manager)
  • Pepperl + Fuchs (Market Manager, Material Handling)
  • Pitney Bowes (Head of Automation)
  • Plus One Robotics (CRO)
  • PSI Engineering (Business Development Consultant)
  • Regal Rexnord (VP Marketing and Services)
  • RN Logistik (MD, Founder)
  • SCHÖNENBERGER Systeme (Head of Material Flow Consulting & Sales Pouch Sorter)
  • Sedlak (Director of Client Services)
  • Storage Solutions (Chief Customer Officer)
  • StreamTech Engineering (Marketing)
  • Tompkins Robotics (President)
  • Unbox Robotics (CEO, Co-founder)
  • Vanderlande (Head of Solution Design, Warehousing)
  • Zion Solutions Group (Co-founder)

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The following information will be shared with STIQ (the author of this report).

A free membership of the Mobile Robot Directory is required to download our market reports. Your free membership is subject to our Terms of Service, please read them carefully before proceeding.