According to the latest research from Colliers International, online services and e-commerce (two of the most significant innovations in the global economy in recent years) are not only changing the face of the retail market but having a direct impact on the logistics sector across Europe.
While Germany and the UK will remain the top e-tailing markets in the near future, the fastest growth will be seen in Eastern Europe, with Poland leading the way. Rapidly growing online sales, a large consumer market, access to a relatively cheap labor force and an established logistics market make Poland an exceptionally attractive location for international e-tailers.
These changes in the way consumers spend their money has also created a demand for more complex distribution systems.
Colliers' "E-shaping of the European logistics market" highlights the fact that e-commerce business is based on the business-to-consumer model, meaning that at least one, if not several, intermediaries have been eliminated from the supply chain, increasing the number of customers the e-tailer/warehouse occupiers are dealing with into the thousands.
Further implications include working with multiple suppliers, storage requirements and the distribution of large quantities of small products with short delivery times and the high importance of reverse logistics.
Expansion of this business model has led to the development of e-fulfilment centers where the whole supply chain is being embraced, from obtaining the products from suppliers, through storage, sorting, packing and transfer to carriers, as well as managing the returns."
The report also looks at the changing requirements of the more traditional "bricks and mortar" retailers who have an online sales offer. Many of these retailers now offer multiple delivery options, ranging from home delivery to in-store pick up, which affects their storage and distribution needs.
According to Karel Stransky, Director of Industrial & Logistics for Colliers International Corporate Solutions team:
"Logistics facilities have traditionally been built for the B2B market; however e-tailers are now shipping directly to consumers, changing the design requirements for facilities. While the majority of large market players, such as Amazon, are expected to continue to operate in their own fulfilment centers, there is a growing number of companies who would consider outsourcing their supply chain to a third party logistics (3PL) provider. However, many 3PL companies still do not offer the full range of services required by online retailers, which is surprising given the rapid growth of the e-commerce market.
"In coming years, we will see both online and multi-channel retailers rethinking their strategies for storing and delivering their products, resulting in continuously changing and evolving warehouse and distribution requirements. Developers and 3PLs who are able to adapt quickly and evolve their offers will be very much in demand."