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The funny thing about the future is that we’re always stuck having to prepare for it, because it never stops coming.

For a long time now, a common phrase thrown around with any technological development is “future-proof”. “Future-proof”, in most cases, simply refers to the idea that a product or service will avoid becoming obsolete in the future, despite whatever technological advances may be made between now and then.

You’re probably unsurprised to hear that warehouses are no exception. No matter how long you’ve worked in the warehousing or logistics industries, think about all the changes you’ve seen over time. From advances in cold storage to updates in how products are tracked along the supply chain, even to recent innovations aimed at keeping your workers and customers safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, warehouses have needed to adapt to keep up with the times.

And yet, with an open mind and a little flexibility, you can keep your warehouse ready for whatever the future may hold!


What Does The Warehouse of the Future Look Like?


The warehouse of the future is flexible

The fastest way to become obsolete in the warehousing industry is to find yourself unwilling or unable (or both) to adapt to the changing needs of the clients and industries you serve. For example, as your customers continue to need faster shipping and greater visibility in delivery, your warehouse will quickly find itself being left behind if you’re unable to accommodate these needs.

Accordingly, the first step is to be flexible. Obviously, implementing any new technology or design can cost money and require some foresight, but you need to be open to the idea in the first place, otherwise you can wind up costing yourself a lot of money, time, and business in the long run. From the biggest technological innovations like automation and robotics, to simply implementing something like gravity flow racks to keep your product flowing smoothly, keeping an open mind for these developments will help your warehouse work exactly the way you want it to down the road.


The warehouse of the future is ergonomics-focused

Even above and beyond serving your customers, the warehouse of the future will also keep its workers and teammates in mind when it comes to design. As you place, purchase, and design the industrial shelving that your teams need to get their work done, always bear in mind the human factor. Someone’s going to have to get those items back down from the shelves, after all, and by making sure your various racks and shelving are set up in a way to reduce the risk of injury or damage, your warehouse will have a much easier time of it overall – as will your workers.

Factor in things like the space you need for automation, leaving room for forklifts, and not top-loading the most popular items high up in an area that could be risky for your teams to retrieve, and even as your warehouse becomes more automated, your layout can already accommodate it.


The warehouse of the future is focused on customer communication.

Perhaps most importantly, the warehouse of the future will be able to communicate back-and-forth with its customers, suppliers, vendors, and staff to make sure everyone is on the same page.

And in these days of heightened transparency along the supply chain and increased demand for near-immediate shipment and delivery, customer communication can take many forms. Be prepared to make your warehouse more upfront about things like stock levels, expected replenishment times, and delivery dates across your entire supply chain, from the initial vendor to the end customer receiving your product. We’re not saying you have to be the new Amazon Prime, but as the bar continues to raise for what services a warehouse can offer, you’ll need to at least keep an open line to your partners and customers about what you can offer, and when.

By making sure your warehouse is ready for the future, you’ll be able to keep your customers happier and streamline your entire process, no matter what you stock – or how fast the future seems to arrive.

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