It’s likely that the warehouse of the future will look significantly different to the way operations are run today. Changes in technology, society and the needs and expectations of consumers have already turned the industry on its head over the past decade. By 2030, the sector could have evolved completely once again as the pace of change gets faster and technology drives more innovation and development at every level.
Current trends in warehousing
It’s worth examining the current trends affecting warehouses today as these are likely to have an influence when it comes to shaping what warehouses in 2030 are going to look like. These include:
- Technology is changing everything. From automation to robotics, artificial intelligence to virtual reality, the explosion of technology is rippling through every industry.
- Population trends. Global population numbers are constantly rising, placing increasing pressure on existing infrastructure. More and more people live in urban areas today and, particularly in developed countries, incomes are on the rise. Demographics change depending on where in the world you are – in developed countries, for example, workforces are shrinking while populations age and elsewhere in the world the situation is reversed.
- Customers are getting more particular. Brands today are much more keyed into what customers want. More often than not that is personalisation, omni-channel shopping and broader customisation options.
2030 expectations for warehouses
Bearing the above trends in mind we’re likely to see a number of changes affecting warehouses in 2030 and beyond.
- Urban warehouses may need to become multifunctional. As well as just storing and shipping products, it may also be necessary for warehouses to be able to produce them too. This is particularly so given the increasing demand for customisation from customers and the opportunities that are presented by 3D printing.
- Warehouses are likely to move closer to customers. Urban distribution centres are going to become more common due to increasing customer expectations about delivery times and omni-channel retail. This will present challenges in terms of space constraints and the cost of urban warehouse space.
- Providing a significantly faster service. From drones and robotics to the use of autonomous vehicles, warehouses of the future will need to be able to accommodate the desire that many customers have today for much faster service. Same day delivery is likely to become the norm and warehouses may need to develop to be able to offer pick up for customers direct.
- Shared service models. Due to the space and cost constraints of more urban warehouses, as well as the increased service expectations, it’s likely that shared service models will become the norm for warehouses. These enable multiple sellers to share space in the same facility.
- The role of technology. There’s no doubt that it will be evolving technology that enables the warehouse of 2030 to meet new speed and efficiency requirements, from faster picking to quicker delivery.
The world is evolving, fast, and warehouses are likely to reflect this with significant changes that any business in the industry needs to bear in mind for 2030 – and beyond.