The evolution of the Warehouse
In today’s retail world, many of the associated sectors are experiencing significant transformation, whether it’s in the pursuit of being leaner, driving increased efficiencies or in response to external forces like Brexit, import/export issues or even changing customer behaviours.
Those in warehouse management are no different, with modern buying behaviours driving a need to operate in a more intelligent, automated and flexible way in order to keep up with the pace of change being seen throughout the wider supply chain.
Gone are the days when a warehouse was simply a storage facility with a trusty fork-lift on hand to move boxes around and arrange for pallet-loads of stock to be sent on to whichever retailer requires it. Today, warehouses are expected to be an efficient and speedy element of the wider customer journey, fulfilling the essentials roles of not just storage but also logistics and distribution management. With new buying behaviours emerging thanks to retailers offering an omnichannel experience, the modern warehouse is key to the overall customer experience. For manufacturers, the increase in web retailers who only hold ‘virtual stock’ and in methods like dropshipping, where the retailer is simply a middle man, means that warehouses are now acting in multiple capacities.
The demand being placed on warehouses and distribution centres has increase dramatically. Next-day and even in-day delivery has become an expectation of online shoppers and so warehouse managers must find ways to respond to this increased need for turnaround that is aligned to their systems, processes and ways of working and if it isn’t, they must quickly adapt. Adding to the need for transformation in the warehouse sector is a legacy of outdated buildings in need of refurbishment, poor investment in technology and housekeeping issues like inefficient procurement methods. The common thread here is available budget as responding to these challenges and delivering the next generation of warehouse buildings will require significant investment.
Refurbishing a tired warehouse space can bring many benefits, however, such as increased capacity, the ability to implement or improve automated technology and the addition or improvement of corporate space such as meeting rooms or offices. Understanding how to better maximise space and taking advantage of more modern ways of doing so can add not only value to your overall property but also create efficiencies through leaner and more efficient ways of working.
Technology undoubtably has a role in warehouses of the future as the industry becomes less reliant on human interventions and instead relies heavily on automation. As well as looking at artificial intelligence systems to support picking and packing, attention should be given to IT systems that support the running of a warehouse and facilitate organisational procurement as it’s likely both improvements and efficiencies can be gained.
Transforming in a live environment is difficult but there are ways to deliver a smart solution. Working with an outsource provider in the commercial transformation space is a clever option, taking advantage of their expertise in what works (and what doesn’t) to facilitate a seamless upgrade. Working in this way can give you access to otherwise unavailable knowledge when in the conceptual phase of what evolving a warehouse space means in real terms, plus gives the reassurance of a fully-managed project right through to completion.
A Focus on Customer Experience
Bringing in the professionals to refurbish a warehouse space also gives the reassurance of some certainties that can be planned around. As well as working to an approved project cost, there’ll be a defined project plan and scope of works that will be stuck to so timing shouldn’t become an issue. This means that there should be minimal disruption to your operation, allowing you to continue to focus on what’s important – delivering for customers.
Warehouses and distribution centres have only recently been talked about as such key players in the retail sector, despite the fact they have played an important role for many years. However, with an increased focus in retail on customer experience and the increased use of digital as a channel to do everything from checking stock to purchasing and arranging delivery of an item, the demand on these centres is only going to increase. The warehouse industry must evolve with the pace of change here and embrace transformation to keep up, as there are sure to already be a host of competitors willing to do so.
Over 20 Years Experience
With over 20 years’ experience of transforming commercial space, Sigma provide a true end-to-end service; from fixtures and consolidation, to construction, projects and M&E.
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