Amazon has had a 15 year head start in the world of e-commerce, but this hasn’t stopped other retailers from competing. COVID-19 has completely changed the calculations for things like warehouse space, transportation, delivery slots and personnel. Even if a business is entirely digital, it is still reliant on physical space and people to operate effectively.
Walmart has recently launched their subscription service “Walmart+” that provides same-day or two-day shipping for free. Target has established their REDcard program with similar perks. Newegg Premium focuses on electronics, while Shopify connects small to medium sized retailers to shoppers while offering similar delivery times. In order to meet the growing demand and delivery time promises, an estimated 1 billion square feet in storage will be needed by 2025.
As of July, we have seen 10,000 retail closings, with estimates as high as 25,000 by the end of the year. While brick and mortar retail is unlikely to ever fully disappear, the hastening shift to e-commerce provides new ventures for retailers to provide their goods to the public. Re-purposing retail space for e-commerce isn’t a new concept. Last year, Sam’s club opened up new fulfillment centers in different regions around the country using spaces that used to contain its stores. With the shift to the e-commerce, these empty retail spaces provide a great opportunity to help reduce shipping times and provide shoppers with the convenience they’ve come to expect from shopping online. Additionally, smaller operating spaces and reduced labor needs to run these “mini-warehouses” help mitigate concerns of COVID-19 spreading more easily in larger warehouses.
Retail is shifting rapidly to accommodate ‘the new normal’. Envirosell has decades of consulting expertise in retail design and has helped countless retailers figure out how best to re-purpose and re-imagine spaces as needs and behavior change.