What trends will determine the European warehouse space market for e-commerce in 2021?

An expert comment

Growing demand leads to decreasing floor space availability in Eastern Europe's metropolitan regions.

Growing demand leads to decreasing floor space availability in Eastern Europe's metropolitan regions.

Polish Logistyka interviews industry experts weekly about current developments. Our colleague Tim Aßmann (Senior Manager at Metroplan Eastern Europe) comments:

Online retailing has become an integral part of everyday life for European consumers. In the last ten years alone, e-commerce sales in Germany have quadrupled. Last year, the lockdown brought an additional boost of over 15 % growth. Stationary retailers in Europe are offering their goods online for the first time due to the pandemic and Amazon will also launch its Polish website soon to better serve the market.

The logical consequence is increasing demand for warehouse and handling capacities. The demand for modern logistics real estate for the e-commerce business has grown enormously.

Customers mainly order clothing and electronic goods on the internet. The high returns rate of over 30% is problematic. Returns are labour- and space-intensive and cause high costs for the retailers. Many e-commerce companies therefore outsource these highly manual returns processes to the low-wage regions of Eastern Europe. In reverse logistics, cost efficiency is much more relevant than speed.

Of course, automated processes and artificial intelligence can help optimise space utilisation in fulfilment, but the increasing complexity due to growing assortments is a growing challenge for logistics experts. In the last 12 months consumers have had to buy furniture online for the first time, this will further increase the growth in online furniture shipping and the demand for warehouse and fulfilment space.

The growing demand is countered by a declining availability of space. In many metropolitan regions of Eastern Europe, one of the biggest challenges, apart from the availability of employees, is now the search for land. In addition to classic greenfield projects, brownfield solutions are becoming increasingly interesting. This is because areas that were used by the military and heavy industry, for example, often have a very good infrastructure and thus exceptional potential.

Over the years, Metroplan Eastern Europe has developed special procedures and databases to identify and realise the hidden champion regions in Eastern Europe for shipping and logistics locations. A task that is becoming increasingly demanding.