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Even before the recent ecommerce boom, warehouses had started to take on a lot of new forms over the past 5-10 years.

In order to keep up with increased demand from numerous channels, as well as a diversification of where customers live in relation to where the items are shipped from, warehouses have started to look for space anywhere they can find it.

Former big-box retailers, anchor stores in malls, smaller warehouses inside a larger facility – the solutions to these problems have been as varied as the products contained inside each warehouse. What tends to remain consistent, however, are the needs of each of these warehouses – and the fact that these needs have to be fulfilled before anyone’s orders can be fulfilled.

No matter what your warehouse deals in, if you intend on serving urban areas, your warehouse will likely have these needs – among many others:


Urban Warehousing Needs & Design for 2021


Last-mile location

One of the biggest challenges faced by urban warehouses is finding the ideal location. Most warehouses located near an urban area are designed for last-mile shipping; meaning they serve as a distribution center for packages that are already in transit and need a final logistics provider to get it to the customer.

As a result, many urban warehouses need to position themselves in as ideal a location as possible to fulfill these orders. If you’re attempting to serve as a last-mile provider, make sure your warehouse is in an area that can serve a larger urban population while being easy to access for other logistics providers. Are you in a suburban area that can easily access several population centers via highway? Can other logistics providers easily find you to deliver their packages? Location goes a long way, particularly these days.


Employee base

Hand-in-hand with your location will be the availability of skilled workers. Larger urban centers tend to have a greater amount of skilled workers available due to population density, and this will be key to ensuring your work goes smoothly. Particularly in the early days of 2021, when many workers are still displaced by pandemic-related issues, finding the right staff levels to keep your warehouse moving even through the waning days of COVID will be crucial for success.


Flexible storage

Given that most urban warehouses tend to serve as a product’s last step in the journey, they find themselves stocking a wider variety of items than most warehouses. Electronics, clothing, home goods, even food may find itself making its way into your warehouse, and you need to be able to adapt accordingly.

Make sure you have enough storage to accommodate items of various sizes. Pallet racking, warehouse racking, walk in cooler storage – it may all be needed to help organize items before they reach their destination.


Versatile property

Urban warehouses have to contend with a factor that many of their larger peers don’t – neighbors.

Urban warehouses tend to find themselves located much closer to population centers or largely-used areas than other types of warehousing, and as a result tend to deal with a lot more in the way of zoning regulations and boards getting involved. Don’t be surprised if part of your warehousing property needs to be turned into a city park, a parking lot, or some other common-use space to meet local zoning requirements.

After all, what good is the perfect location if your neighbors don’t want you around?

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