The shed of the future

E-commerce: its impact on warehouses

E-commerce and other digital technologies have provided consumers with a multitude of ways to select, buy, and receive goods, and have simultaneously fuelled an expectation for this all to take place in ever-shortening timescales. Offering the convenience and service that is now taken for granted has become an increasingly complex process for retailers, however, and has elevated the importance of distribution networks within their businesses.

The impact on the real estate that makes up these networks is particularly significant. Today, retailers are being forced to think differently about the location, size, specification, and even operation of warehouses. How will they optimise delivery efficiencies within strict time constraints? Are traditional ‘mega sheds’ still the only viable option for national distribution networks? What is the result of bringing more labour-intensive processes into the warehouse? These are just some of the questions and challenges that we will explore in the report.

The rapid adoption of digital technologies is transforming the way consumers learn about products, make choices, complete purchases and ultimately want to receive goods. This report highlights the challenges that retailers face as a result of digital disruption and how real estate plays a fundamental role in their response.

The shed of the future report asks specifically how our changing shopping habits will impact the key characteristics of retail supply chains, and sets out our view of how this will shape the warehouse of the future.
Our research covers the following themes:

  • Location: How warehouse location relates to demands for greater convenience;
  • Flexibility: The warehouse is evolving from a storage space for retailers to encompass a variety of functions in the product fulfilment cycle;
  • Technology & big data: How technology and data can be used to make the warehouse and supply chain more integrated parts of retail businesses; and
  • Efficiency: A look at how efficiencies can be gained through operational agility and flexibility of leases.

The research highlights the growing demand for urban warehouses, providing closer proximity and access to the large urban base of consumers, whilst recognising that demand for the ‘mega shed’ will be maintained as retailers look towards gaining greater efficiencies in the supply chain.

A detailed look on how real estate has evolved for supply chains in the digital age.
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