Are you updating your distribution center’s design to meet growing e-commerce demands in your business? E-commerce has grown exponentially, especially since early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to depend on online ordering to shop for the products they needed. Online shopping has been booming from early 2020 onward, experiencing 39% growth by the first quarter of 2021.
If you’re planning to adapt your distribution center (DC) to growing e-commerce demands, there are several important factors you’ll need to consider before moving forward.
Data is the Foundation of Any Distribution Center Design
In order to effectively equip your DC for e-commerce fulfillment, you’ll need to first take a close look at your company’s data. Data will help determine how to build the most optimal space for your growing operations.
When you analyze your data, there are some essential questions you need to ask. These include:
- What do our seasonal demand peaks look like?
- Are there predictable sales or demand patterns throughout the year to consider?
- How many e-commerce orders do we fulfill every week during down times, regular seasons, and peak times? (Consider the full spectrum of the orders you fulfill.)
- What’s the size and weight range of the products we’re shipping out every week?
- How much space do we need for inventory? Pickups and deliveries?
- Do we handle a high volume of returns, and will we have the space to accommodate those?
- What does our team size look like throughout the year?
Leverage Optimized, Scalable Designs
It’s important to design a forward-focused DC with the flexibility to grow in the future. To make that happen, incorporate optimized, scalable designs to accommodate growth and increases in consumer demand.
High-Level Considerations That Make An Impact
There are a few high-level considerations that could impact how you approach designing your DC for e-commerce fulfillment. Let’s take a look.
There may be predictable, seasonal peaks to prepare your e-commerce DC for throughout the year. These include major holidays, the changing of the seasons, and the weeks before children go back to school, for example.
Consider these annual peaks when you approach designing your DC. If possible, use any data you may have from past seasonal peaks to make more accurate predictions.
Sometimes, it can be exceptionally difficult to predict what consumer demand is going to look like from one week to the next. Demand can change without rhyme or reason, and it’s difficult to know what’s coming down the pipeline at all times. Stay as agile as possible throughout the year to meet these changing demands.
Leverage the data you collect to make predictions about upcoming supply needs to meet past demand trends. You won’t hit the mark every time, but you’ll be more likely to be accurate on a regular basis than if you don’t analyze trends within your own DC.
You’ll want to be sure to build a DC that can adapt to labor scarcity. This is true whether you’re struggling to staff your facility or you can’t afford a full crew due to the cost of labor.
Equipping your facility with the appropriate solutions, such as robot automation, a conveyor system, or Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems (ASRS), can help you operate at high capacity even when your team is lean.
While there are a wide range of crucial considerations that factor into your redesigned DC, you now have a great place to start. As an experienced supply chain solutions provider, we can help you work with your current space, maximizing and utilizing it in the most efficient and scalable ways possible.
When you partner with IndPro Services, we can help you study your existing space, analyze your data, consider possible designs, and talk through other considerations such as labor scarcity, consumer demand, and seasonal peaks. You’ll be on your way to building out a space that not only works better for you now, but can scale with your operations in the future – saving you time and money.
IndPro Services, a leader in U.S. Federal Government and commercial systems procurement, provides efficient, innovative, and results-driven solutions. Dedicated to improving efficiency in warehouse and distribution center operations, we work on the same side of the table with you to help you procure the best possible solution for your specific application.