There was a time when warehousing used to be relatively simple. You had your store and then you had your warehouse, where you kept all your extra inventory. When the store ran out of stock of something, you headed to the warehouse and picked some more up.
The new face of retailing has changed global warehousing trends dramatically. Today, if you’re a retailer, you almost always must have an online presence if you are to survive. And when you are selling online, you are typically selling items directly out of the warehouse, which requires an entirely different business model.
How modern warehousing works in the digital world of retailing has also changed dramatically due to the “Amazon Effect.” Amazon has quickly mastered the art of online retailing and smaller businesses that do not adopt at least some of their practices when it comes to order fulfillment, supply chain management and shipping process are likely to get left behind.
Important Global Warehousing Trends to Consider
So what are some of the most important global warehousing trends to consider in this brave new world?
One is that your new business model has to accommodate on-demand fast shipping for your customers. No one is willing to wait four to six weeks for delivery any longer. They want it in days and maybe even hours. You cannot possibly facilitate such requests with one warehouse and standard shifts of shipping employees.
You need to have a local warehouse presence in multiple locations that you service, so you can ship from a much shorter distance. You need fulfillment professionals working around the clock and experienced managers to supervise them.
You need to figure out how to handle the “last mile” delivery problem that Amazon has conquered: getting the package that last step from the local receiving station to your customer’s door. That may require setting up some personal lockers for pickup, hiring local drivers for delivery or other creative methods.
You may, like Target, need to turn your store or part of your store into an “order fulfillment center” — part store and part warehouse — so you can deliver products directly from your store or have the products on hand so someone who has ordered online can come down at their convenience and pick it up.
How to Keep Up With Global Warehousing Trends in the Amazon Age
It’s definitely a good idea to keep a close eye on what the big guys are doing, but the most important thing to do is keep track of who your customers are and how they like to be served. You may want to adjust your warehouse plan according to where you have the most customers.
For more helpful tips on managing warehousing and inventory in the digital age, and for modern, sustainable, efficient packaging solutions like plastic pallets and bottled water racks, visit Polymer Solutions International Inc. and tell us about your concerns. Or, you can give us a call at 610-325-7500 anytime.