The Impact of COVID-19 on Supply Chains
Pre-pandemic, the just-in-time (JIT) supply chain model, which minimizes inventory to reduce costs, was the norm. However, this model exposed companies’ vulnerabilities when COVID-19 accelerated change across every supply chain industry vertical – especially warehousing.
The shift to remote work and the exponential rise of e-commerce exposed supply chains to crushing demands and major disruption. Companies didn’t know if their warehouses were going to be empty week to week, or if they were going to be overstocked. Extra industrial space that goes unused is a huge financial strain for a business, but on the other hand, purchasing patterns were so unstable during the pandemic that overflow also became a financial concern.
With changes in consumer preferences, supply chain setbacks, project delays and more as a result of the pandemic, there has never been a greater need for regional space that can be leased on flexible terms. Because of the nature and uncertainty of the economy, many businesses don’t want to commit to a long-term sublease for space, but at the end of the day, they still need a solution. Tenants and landlords also want the opportunity to generate earnings if they have unused space simply racking up their expenses. Short-term, on-demand warehousing has allowed companies of all sizes and industries to make smart decisions about warehouse space and plan more effectively for the future during COVID-19.
The Rise in Popularity of Short-Term Warehousing
The supply chain industry understandably doesn’t want to fix what’s not broken. However, when the COVID crisis hit, many traditional processes and workflows began to fail. This accelerated the need for more innovative solutions and new, tech-based services like Chunker became a mainstream necessity.
Warehouse leasing has long been predicated on long-term commitments and needs. For example, a business would have to commit to a 10-year lease, which meant predicting and planning space needs over the course of a decade. This left a ton of room for error, especially as consumer behavior evolved so quickly.
Short-term, on-demand warehousing supports supply chains in the new era by adding agility and flexibility. Companies no longer need to sign a five-year lease when they only have a five-month problem to solve. By enabling short-term deals, flexible warehousing allows a business to respond faster.
Additionally, companies are able to take advantage of new opportunities and move into new markets faster. Typically, it takes six months to a year to source and secures long-term warehousing space. Through short-term, on-demand warehousing options, a company can now find industrial space in 24 hours and enter a new market, while planning for the long-term. This allows for better market testing, while removing some of the risks that comes with entering a new market.
Looking Ahead: What’s in Store for Warehouse Space and Supply Chains
Where we will see short-term, on-demand warehousing proliferate is in areas such as construction, 5G rollouts, hotel remodels and overflow storage for retail and e-commerce. For instance, construction projects require truckloads of goods to be brought on-site, necessitating a short-term space for materials storage. Flexible warehousing is going to become more and more vital to supply chain resilience in the future, and is less expensive than a traditional brick and mortar.
Short-term, on-demand warehouses are the natural next step in the evolution of commercial real estate and the industrial space in particular. Over the last few years, we have seen the space evolve and adapt to new entrants in the market like on-demand office space, short-term rentals, co-living, pop-up retail and more. As the industry continues to shift and adapt to more on-demand solutions, it will continue to be a go-to resource for people seeking convenience, simplicity and efficiency for finding and leasing warehouse space in the post-pandemic era.
Brad Wright is the CEO of Chunker