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Building a better mousetrap

Mousetrap (image)

Global business-to-consumer e-commerce will grow at a 20 percent rate each year.

In the world of industrial real estate, an estimated 30 percent of U.S. big-box demand has a correlation to e-commerce, and this will not abate anytime soon.

Major retailers are opening new omnichannel fulfillment centers larger than 500,000 square feet in markets that offer access to the nation’s key population centers, and, while space-utilization varies company to company, there is a shortlist of building features today’s users want:

  • More building depth with wider column spacing to accommodate innovative warehouse management systems, specialized material handling equipment and racking—all of which help expedite delivery.
  • Extensive truck doors and trailer parking to meet the high volume of orders; >300 trailer stalls and >185’ secured truck court is the new standard.
  • Ample employee parking to accommodate full-time and seasonal employees. Parking ratios can exceed 2:1,000.
  • Raising the roof: The 32’ warehouse clearance height of today is becoming the 36’ to 40’ of tomorrow. This allows users to incorporate “each-picking” technology on multiple mezzanine levels.
  • Air conditioning is a must. It maintains sensitive-product, while also keeping employees comfortable to enhance their productivity.
  • Adequate and redundant facility power with back-up generators to provide uninterrupted operations during shipping days.
  • A cross-dock configuration to enhance the flow of goods into and out of the facility.

The e-commerce model is evolving, and the above highlights what is common today: Demand for, and efficient use of big-box space. On the other side of the spectrum, smaller size requirements are emerging. For instance, to maximize coverage, particularly as it relates to the push for same and next-day shipping, retailers are also opening larger mid-size warehouse projects in secondary markets, between 300,000 and 499,999 square feet.

Others, such as Amazon, are delving into the grocery business and will have multiple, smaller facilities in heavily populated areas, such as Los Angeles, to bridge their larger fulfillment operations with the end-consumer; Amazon will utilize a fleet of vans to make deliveries.

While building features in this size segment vary, large yard space is a requirement in delivering direct for this evolving urban logistics model.

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Building a better mousetrap

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Point of view

The e-commerce model

Learn what building features today’s e-commerce users want.

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