Online retailing is growing, and consumers also expect ever smaller orders to reach them faster all the time. This means that goods have to be stored closer to the consumer and distributed from there. Demand for logistics buildings is also rising – because more goods means more space and volume, and therefore bigger challenges in managing that last mile to delivery.
Warehouses at the outskirts of town
This is why larger warehouses are currently being built just at the city periphery, or along major highways. However this causes more traffic, with the resulting congestion and delivery delays. Increased noise and pollution are additional factors that run counter to the growing demand for sustainability. Inner-city logistics buildings are one solution. According to the authors of the study "Logistics and buildings. Urban logistics. New ideas for the city" (2017), buildings in cities are not currently equipped for these new requirements. But experts believe that many new structures will be built for this purpose in the next few years – and that other buildings will be converted to serve urban logistics.
Underground garages, parking structures and other empty retail spaces could be adapted, for example, which would support very fast delivery times for delivery services. In Berlin, Amazon is delivering goods to the city center from a previously long-abandoned space in a former electronics retail store at the KuDamm.
Package delivery services can also convert industrial parks into distribution centers inside the city. In Düsseldorf, Segro is taking this approach: The company offers different delivery services the possibility of using its premises flexibly as storage – in an ideal location for the challenge of the "last mile."
Supplying smaller spaces from their larger counterparts
Smaller inner-city buildings that are networked together can be connected to and replenished from the larger warehouses outside the city. When there is no great need for storage space or special equipment, flex spaces can come into play. These are microdepots that share one space between different retailers. Centrally located packaging stations or miniwarehouses at service stations are another solution. A further possibility is "pop-up storage" that moves in containers through the cities, with a modular structure that can be disassembled as needed.
The future of logistics hinges on the last mile
How can companies reliably delivery their goods across that last mile? What do new inner-city logistics solutions offer for expanding online sales? CeMAT offers you many opportunities to discuss current approaches and developments with experts.