As the retail landscape increasingly shifts to online commerce, arguably no aspect of an organization has seen a transformation quite like the company warehouse. What once were metal buildings in the middle of nowhere meant for holding items until they were ready for retail shelves have now become highly mobilized structures at the heart of business operations.
Even the name has changed.
As the storage connotations of “warehouse” are no longer particularly relevant in the current climate of just-in-time delivery, the term “distribution center” has moved in to take its place.
The contemporary DC must be able to handle myriad demands. It must be able to accommodate a nonstop flow of delivery trucks and third-party couriers. It must be able to facilitate movement of human and automated workers, many of whom are required to perform light assembly prior to shipping. And it must accomplish this while being as affordable and energy efficient as possible.
With this in mind, the following are some of the most prevalent features of eCommerce DCs:
- Smaller facilities located closer to large population centers to help reduce the cost of last-mile delivery
- Although smaller in square footage, they are getting taller to help add racks that facilitate picking and better utilize vertical space
- Larger loading docks and deeper truck court depth to improve traffic flow through the facility
To help in this regard, many companies are using prefabricated steel buildings to form the foundation of their DC infrastructure. They are ideal for DC construction because they can be up in a matter of months, helping the company ensure order fulfillment without getting bogged down in a lengthy construction process. They also allow for far more clear span than other construction types, allowing companies to better leverage space and promote movement on the floor.
While these are a few of the most prevalent trends in contemporary DC design, they far from tell the whole story. Keep reading the following infographic for a detailed analysis of the anatomy of a highly optimized ecommerce DC!