Recent findings indicate that by 2021 roughly 93% of the UK’s internet users are expected to shop online, making it the predicted highest rate in Europe. Associate Director Ben Pickersgill gives his insight into how this might shape the future of the Retail, Manufacturing and Logistics sectors.
An increased rate of internet shopping has in turn driven a rapid development across the manufacturing and logistics sector as retailers look to keep up with customer demands and expectations. This has given rise to adaptations, extensions and new build manufacturing and logistic units, which can be seen sprouting up at a rapid rate along most motorways in the U.K. Many of these units incorporate the latest in warehouse planning and thinking, with cutting-edge technology employed to improve efficiency and reduce cost.
At Watson Batty Architects we work with some of the largest logistic companies and retailers in the country and there are several challenges that companies are facing, many of which impact the design of the buildings and facilities.
Customers are driving expectations, items ordered online can now be delivered the same day, and in some cases the delivery is free. This puts a strain on retailers current operating models, many of which are struggling to catch up with the growth in internet shopping, lacking capacity in their logistics network. The solution for many is often through innovation and technology. Warehouses can be highly automated with goods flowing through a building with minimal human interface. This technology does however require a significant initial capital investment. Innovation doesn’t just apply to the inside of the building but also how items are delivered, by the end of the next decade drone deliveries and driverless vehicles may become the rule rather than the exception.
With all this talk of technology and innovation one key area that may get overlooked is the human factor, logistic and industrial sites still require a human being to undertake several tasks. “Well Being” is one of the current buzzwords heard a lot in discussions around the future of logistics. The industry is facing a labour shortage caused by a reducing number of European nationals following BREXIT and the desire of the younger workforce for better pay, flexibility of hours and benefits. Logistic buildings of the future need to be more staff friendly and have better facilities to attract staff such as green spaces, running tracks, wildlife walks, healthy eating restaurants and gyms.
The current generation are more and more aware of environmental issues, they are key players in raising awareness, promoting sustainable lifestyles, conserving nature, supporting renewable energy, adopting environmentally-friendly practices and implementing adaptation and mitigation projects. A company’s green credentials can impact on sales to this audience. Logistic buildings of the future will need to incorporate sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar and water. Vital at a time when more electrical infrastructure will be required to charge the electric vehicles of the future.
The manufacturing and logistics sector will continue to be a key sector for the U.K economy in the coming decade and there are many opportunities for developers and retailers alike. Hopefully the coming year will see investors having greater confidence to invest in this growing market.
If you would like to find out more of what we are working on in this area, please contact us at Watson Batty Architects, and look out for further updates on projects we are currently developing.