If someone had told you 10 years ago there would be warehouses inside shopping centres, you would have looked as surprised as if someone had just told you to eat salted crisps with Nutella.
But in the current retail climate, perhaps this combination does not sound that strange. We have already seen some retailers using part of their stores as mini fulfilment centres for their online business.
This use of retail space helps with the current customer demand for a better integration between physical and online shopping. Customers want faster delivery at a lower cost. This means inventory needs to be closer to the customer.
Converting vacant retail spaces into mini fulfilment centres/warehouses, will allow retailers to provide better omnichannel shopping experiences.
But there are still some questions in relation to the use of stores as mini-fulfilment centres, such as:
- How can retailers transport large amounts of stock into the town centres without creating disruptions?
- How much rent are retailers considering to pay for this “warehouse” floor space?
- How much are landlords willing to accept for this use in their prime retail spaces?
Warehouse and retail stores in the same place seems odd, but maybe in the next few years this will become the new normal. By the way, you should try the salted crisps with Nutella combination...it works.
At its core it’s an idea that marries retail and logistics to turn the shopping mall into a hybrid online-offline fulfillment channel. Customers can come in-store or they can shop online and everything is managed from one location. Simple right?