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By its very nature, the world of warehousing and fulfillment is no stranger to shifting trends and changing approaches.

Even if you discount the necessary changes borne out of everything that’s happened over the past three years, warehousing is an industry that constantly needs to update itself to keep up with changing customer demands, shifts in technology, and the current retail environment in general – and 2023 will be no exception.

As major online retailers continue to set the tone for what customers expect, and the effects of 2020’s supply chain crisis continue to ripple through most industries across the globe, warehouses will see themselves looking into even bigger technological upgrades, changes to processes, and finding all-new ways to fulfill their orders correctly and on-time. (After all, isn’t that what we all want, at the end of the day?)

With that in mind, here’s a few of the biggest warehouse industry trends you can expect to encounter in 2023, and how they may affect your overall business:

 

Smaller distribution centers for micro-fulfillment

 

Micro-fulfillment has been a huge topic in the world of warehousing and logistics over the last few years, and as customer demand grows, so will the need for micro-fulfillment centers.

Once, not long ago, micro fulfillment centers used to occupy a small corner of an existing warehouse, or even the back of a retail store if space allowed. However, due to a combination of dwindling availability in warehouse space, and a continued drastic increase in online orders since 2020, many companies have had to get a bit innovative with the spaces they use.

 

Retailers, logistics companies, and fulfillment providers have been increasingly turning to spaces like disused office buildings, empty retail spaces, and even abandoned shopping malls and plazas, in order to create more warehousing space for their products and serve their customers better.

These unique warehouse locations can actually provide two major benefits to companies who utilize the space. Not only does it give them access to a wider range of available storage space than they might’ve had before, these locations are also frequently much closer to larger population centers. This provides a huge advantage to last-mile deliveries, or any warehouses that need to reduce their shipping and handling time due to customer demand, as these warehouses can be much closer to where your customers live and work.

 

Of course, any new warehouse will come with its own challenges. If you’re considering getting into a micro-fulfillment center of your own, you will need to put some careful thought into how much warehouse storage you’ll be able to fit, what kind of improvements they may need to make the most of the limited space (such as installing pallet racking accessories to keep products safer in smaller areas) and what kind of impact it will have on your business. If it all works out, though, micro-fulfillment centers can bring your business all-new delivery and warehousing advantages.

 

Flexible fulfillment

 

At the end of the day, fulfilling orders is the name of the game – after all, that’s the end goal for any warehouse, right? But where things will start to differ this year, is how fulfillment is performed, and what impact it has on the rest of the warehouse.

Warehouses will have to begin to look into more flexible fulfillment and logistics strategies to remain competitive through 2023. Flexible fulfillment strategies allow you to prepare and ship orders from any of your distribution centers, no matter where they’re located in relation to the customer, in order to handle orders as quickly (and accurately) as possible.

 

The right flexible fulfillment strategy allows you to ship items individually to avoid stock outs or canceled orders (which can now have a much larger impact on your brand image and identity than ever before). In order to achieve this, your warehouses will need to be able to prepare and ship orders that were not originally assigned to them, even if the fulfillment center isn’t in the same region as where the order originated from, to prevent lost sales, canceled orders, or delivery issues.

This sort of strategy does mean your warehouses will have to work harder than ever, perhaps with the inclusion of new warehouse storage solutions and shelving, or even the modification of your existing storage with tools like wire shelving parts (like extra shelves to increase storage capacity) to help keep up with the shifting demand.

 

A focus on ‘green logistics’

 

“Going green” has been a topic at the front of everyone’s mind for quite some time now, but as logistics continues to grow in importance for businesses across nearly any industry, an increased focus on environmental standards and protection will become key throughout 2023.

Luckily, for many warehouses the act of going green will come as something of a side effect of adapting to new technologies and processes. Things like the increased adoption of electric vehicles both within and outside of warehouses, increased use of biodegradable packaging and shipping materials, and even the promotion of customer pick-up points (to reduce overall drive time, and the resulting air pollution) can all contribute to the green-ification of your warehouse. Keep these practices in mind as your warehouse changes over time, and you’ll soon be looking at a more sustainable – and efficient – workplace.

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