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News release


New Omni-channel Real Estate Models are Secret Weapon in Retail War

Six new facility types serve consumers expecting seamless online, mobile and in-store shopping

CHICAGO, Dec. 2, 2013 — Near-instant gratification from shopping online, mobile and in-store is now a standard consumer expectation—and sophisticated real estate models are evolving  to rise to the occasion. The omni-channel logistics models that make a seamless consumer experience possible are now built on a foundation of six new types of facilities, according to a new report by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).  

“The distribution of goods has gone from a bulk process to an individualized delivery model, requiring the reinvention of the supporting real estate that supports moving individual packages where they need to go,” explained Craig Meyer, JLL’s President of Industrial Brokerage. “We used to talk about pallet to store. Now we talk about dock to doorstep. We used to ship one massive delivery of 100 items to one location. Now those same 100 items must go to 100 different destinations—gift-wrapped, overnight, and with a personal note.”

Omni-channel real estate:  six redefined primary facility types
As the industry reinvents its supply chain to this new omni-channel model, demand is soaring for the real estate that supports the new paradigm.  As part of that process, e-commerce has evolved as a distinct real estate asset class, with six newly-defined primary types of facilities that retailers are relying on to win the delivery war:

  • Mega e-fulfillment centers - where merchandise is stocked and picked at item level
  • Parcel sortation centers (hubs) - where parcels are sorted before being forwarded to local parcel delivery centers
  • Local parcel delivery centers - for ‘last mile’ fulfillment, these represent a new type of facility and consumer destination.
  • Local urban logistics depots - to ensure rapid order fulfillment particularly to service major cities, these destinations may be integrated or separate from retail store locations.
  • Return processing centers - to process returned items, many times these are located within mega-fulfillment centers, but typically centralized, requiring specialized inventory and materials handling needs.
  • Online food e-fulfillment centers - with appropriate refrigeration and cooling, typically for grocery delivery and similar functions.

See graphic here

“Customer convenience is driving an evolution in e-commerce logistics – from traditional warehouses to smaller distribution facilities in strategic locations that supports retailers’ omni-channel objectives by prioritizing rapid through-put rather than storage,” said Meyer. “In the next five years, we anticipate the market for e-commerce space to correlate with population trends so that consumers can receive their purchases not only when – but where – they want. And we expect that retailers will make returning purchases just as easy: the omni-channel strategy will drive a brand new class of distribution real estate such as return processing centers.”

The warehouse evolution:
As e-commerce logistics models develop, they are driving major changes in physical distribution networks, comparable to previous changes generated by the rise of global sourcing, or the earlier centralization of deliveries to retail stores via retailer-controlled distribution centers. As the “Evolution of Retail Logistics” diagram demonstrates:

  • 1970s: Retail stores typically replenished by direct deliveries from suppliers or wholesalers
  • 1980s: Retailers centralize store deliveries through regional store-controlled distribution centers
  • 1990s: Global sourcing for non-food products soars, many retailers develop import centers to receive and process imports arriving from overseas in massive containers.
  • 2000s: E-commerce rapidly expands with pure-play (internet-only) online retailers leading a new way of thinking about supply chains; online channels managed separately from store networks

For the full Global E-Commerce Report: click
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About Jones Lang LaSalle
Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual revenue of $3.9 billion, Jones Lang LaSalle operates in 70 countries from more than 1,000 locations worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services to a property portfolio of 2.6 billion square feet and completed $63 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2012. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $46.7 billion of real estate assets under management. For further information, visit