Retail Meets Warehouse: The Omni-Channel Effect
The transformation of retail business models in the age of e-tailing also forces transformation of retail and warehouse space demands. Allocation of existing retail space as well as acquisition of new space is profoundly affected by today’s omni-channel retail business models that stress flexibility and speed in the delivery of products to customers. Enabled by strong inventory control and order control systems, web sites and mobile applications, omni-channel retailing breaks up the traditional retail traffic patterns into space-sensitive delivery methods:
Drop-shipping: Supposedly a means to limit inventory costs, an order from a website prompts a fulfillment via shipment from one or more 3PL – third party logistics warehouse. Showroom space is entirely virtual in this model, which means it simply isn’t appropriate for every retailer: any segment such as fashion where different deliveries from different vendors within a single order are common, brick and mortar showroom square footage needs will remain.
Click-and-collect: The customer orders online and uses an option to pick up the items at a brick-and-mortar store.
Tripp Eskridge Spells Out Construction
Jones, Lang SVP Tripp Eskridge makes the case clearly for the new vocabulary in construction for omnichannel retail. In his article The Omni-Channel Effect, managing the increasing size of distribution center footprints looms large in the industry’s future.
Combining the two types of distribution strategies into one requires a new type of product and not only in terms of size. The labor-intensive nature of direct-to-customer orders requires a building designed with workers’ needs in mind, in contrast to the automation-oriented design of traditional warehouses. big-box centers must integrate features from both sides of the house and may add some new elements:
- Multiple mezzanine office levels – With two or three mezzanine levels, big-box centers allow workers to access merchandise easily. Plus, the extra office space is needed for ecommerce order packing, gift-wrapping and returns.
- State-of-the-art fire protection – Higher ceiling clearance means sprinklers have more work to do. Fire protection has always been one of the main factors limiting ceiling heights, with the other factor being the stability of racking systems. Ceiling heights of 36 to 40 feet would put yesterday’s fire protection systems to the test, but in recent years, new in-rack sprinkler systems increase the level of protection per square foot.
- Better lighting and HVAC systems – In traditional warehouses employing just a handful of workers, precise calibration of light levels or thermal comfort has not mattered as much as an office environment. Now that big-box centers have more office-type workers, it’s necessary to have heating, cooling and lighting that enables workers to be comfortable and productive.
Get the entire article here at Construction Today: Construction Today – The Omni-Channel Effect.