The Impact of eCommerce on Warehouse Design and Operations

To say that eCommerce is booming would be an understatement. According to a report by Forbes, it’s estimated that more than 20 percent of all worldwide retail purchases took place online in 2023, representing a market worth some $6.3 trillion. This represented more than $1 trillion in the United States alone.

And eCommerce sales are still growing. By 2026, this number is expected to increase to 24 percent as online-specific retailers continue their ascent and various brick-and-mortar stores enhance their online presence.

There are various types of warehouses – from public warehouses that offer flexibility for eCommerce businesses to specialized fulfillment centers designed to streamline the fulfillment process. Each type plays a critical role in the eCommerce ecosystem, ensuring products are stored, picked, and shipped with maximum efficiency.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how warehouse spaces have had to change their design and operations to accommodate this shift in consumer buying preferences and how they’ll need to continue to adapt as eCommerce continues to grow over the coming years. Read on to learn more:

The Impact of eCommerce on Warehouse Design and Operations

24/7 Operation

Perhaps the most significant change with the rise of eCommerce purchases is that business is always open. Whether it’s 1 p.m. or 1 a.m., consumers can make purchases online, forcing many warehouses to adopt additional shifts to meet demand and not fall behind, aiming to enhance customer experiences. Consumers expect what they purchase online to show up on their doorstep in days, if not hours, in some cases. As a result, many warehouses have turned to 24/7 operations to enhance customer satisfaction.

Additionally, many eCommerce purchases are individual orders – not bulk orders. This further complicates things in the warehouse environment when it comes to having to process orders more frequently through conveyor belts and automated systems for increased efficiency, impacting the picking process and shipping process.

Increased Demand

Adding a third shift isn’t the only way warehouses can adapt to meet increased demand from eCommerce sales. They also have to operate effectively and efficiently to locate and ship products. As a result, many have adopted automated and smart solutions, incorporating material handling equipment into their distribution center layout. Today’s efficient eCommerce fulfillment centers embrace robots and automation. It also relies on a warehouse design and layout that uses conveyors to more effectively and efficiently transport products and goods from storage areas to shipping and packing areas, improving operational efficiency.

There are various types of conveyors – from standard horizontal belt conveyors to overhead conveyors – that can be installed to optimize warehouse efficiency while promoting a smart layout within the facility. Other material handling solutions that can help promote a productive eCommerce warehouse design include overhead cranes, lifting device, and lift tables. These solutions can all help better automate tasks, reducing human error while streamlining efficiency.

Smart Storage Needs

One of the key goals of any warehouse is to get products out the door and to consumers quickly and efficiently. And while automated solutions and the right fulfillment center design can significantly help with this, it all starts on the front end. Hence, the importance of smart storage needs. To get products out the door quickly, workers need to be able to locate them promptly, making efficient use of public warehouses and optimizing storage space critical. That’s where the right storage solutions can make a big difference.

From pallet and carton flow racks to mobile aisle shelving, the right solutions allow workers to locate products quickly and stay on track. Such solutions can also help keep a warehouse organized and help with inventory, to boot. Now’s the time to assess your eCommerce warehouse design and determine if you have the right storage solutions in place to meet growing demand.

Contact A-Lined Today

eCommerce businesses aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re only likely to become more prominent as more retailers invest in such platforms and as consumers continue to realize the benefits of purchasing in this manner. For more information on the storage and material handling solutions to help propel your warehouse forward, including optimizing fulfillment processes and enhancing customer experiences, contact A-Lined Handling Systems today.