Top 5 Ohio Warehousing Impacts of E-Commerce
Storage demand fluctuations are nothing new to the Ohio warehousing industry, though this year has certainly tested the limits. Demand for nonessential goods and same-day deliveries swung wildly throughout 2020, in part reflecting a sharp rise in e-commerce, something Northeast Ohio warehousing operations felt acutely.
Our hats are off to our various supply chain partners and warehouse workers who quickly adapted to the strict requirements and regulations of numerous new industry priorities driven by consumer needs. With distribution bottlenecked at several points during various times, our warehouse employees adroitly rose to the challenge, – particularly when it came to compressed sales cycles of goods that had to be swiftly and carefully offloaded from ports and trucks and properly consolidated, sorted, packaged, stored and transloaded.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports e-commerce activity spiked dramatically in the second quarter of this year as many consumers shifted their shopping practices away from physical stores and over to digital platforms. Demand for dipped, while the home improvement and technology sectors boomed. U.S. retail e-commerce increased 44.5 percent year-over-year, ultimately resulting in 2.4 million additional square feet of warehousing space, many of those dedicated to business-to-business (B2B) operations.
Ways E-Commerce Has Influenced Ohio Warehousing
The influence of e-commerce on Ohio warehousing is only going to continue and expand. This is why our warehouse managers at On Time Delivery & Warehouse have been hyper-focused on optimizing key processes and technologies to boost e-commerce efficiency and continuously meet the needs of our clients and their customers.
Zooming out to the industry at-large, we have identified the Top 5 Ways E-Commerce Has Changed Ohio Warehousing.
- Location of Warehousing. For many years, the primary consideration in warehouse location was zoning regulations. However, e-commerce has shifted the priorities. Now, fast delivery and proximity to customers is pivotal. We’ve seen more of a demand for warehousing closer to urban centers like Cleveland and near residential communities. This is especially important for process of last-mile deliveries, which helps with more rapid delivery and lower shipping fees. (Warehouses that are far from customers inevitably must include additional shipping costs, and this can be a deterrent to consumers.)
- Bigger Focus on Individual Items Versus Bulk Orders. Bulk orders are certainly still happening, but e-commerce has compelled Ohio warehouses to reconfigure their operations to effectively process smaller batches and even single items. Picking, packing and shipping small-volume orders and single items – and doing so more frequently – is an imperative for warehouses that want to stay in the game. Optimizing inventory management and mobility is key.
- Unpredictable Buying Patterns. Unpredictability and e-commerce are closely interrelated. Many Ohio warehousing outfits have found it tough to keep pace with seasonal demands and other patterns that deviate from the norm, too often overstocking and understocking. A key solution is to upgrade the order fulfillment process, as well as actively seeking ways to be flexible and adaptive. At On Time Delivery & Warehouse, we also carefully choose the type of technology we employ, which helps us more accurately forecast incoming and outgoing goods.
- Increased returns. Warehouses must be prepared to efficiently manage returns, and this is increasingly critical with the growing e-commerce market. Customers expect that not only will they get their items fast, but that returns will also be processed quickly and conveniently. Industry insiders call this reverse logistics. It carries its own costs, dedication of labor and warehouse space, but it’s not something many companies can afford to forego. Not all Ohio warehousing operations can manage reverse logistics because it’s fairly new to the scene. It’s important to choose a company that can manage your reverse logistics skillfully.
It’s important if you’re weighing a Cleveland 3PL warehouse partnership that you take into account whether the company has the capacity to take on these challenges handily.
Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.
Commentary: Adapting to e-commerce growth’s impact on warehousing, Dec. 17, 2020, By Charley Dehoney, FreightWaves.com
More Blog Entries:
Good Warehouse Management Key to Improved Product Flow, Nov. 15, 2020, On Time Delivery & Warehouse Blog