Wincanton's Chief Marketing Officer, Nick Eades, on why a collaborative, online approach is needed to build the warehouse of the future.

As a society, we are moving towards an increasingly collaborative economy. Many items, services and tools we use every day don’t belong to us; they are owned by companies that, often for a fee, grant us access. This makes it simple to pick and choose what we want, when we want it.

Flexible warehousing

Around 10-15 years ago, it was common to buy music and films on physical CDs and DVDs; tangible products that belonged to us. Ownership still has advantages, but as technology has progressed, we have shifted to a model where we pay to have access to whole libraries of music and film.

So, what if we could access storage space in this way? Short-term, flexible warehousing is not a new phenomenon; 3PLs have been offering space in shared-user sites for some time, allowing companies to scale up their activities around peaks in demand.

But the process has mostly been manual, relying on relationships with providers and points of contact. By the time space was located and secured, vital time to take advantage of market opportunities was reduced or even lost. Planning around expected peaks was possible, but responding to sudden surges in demand was less so.

Platforms that streamline this process have the potential to be the future of the warehouse. is an example of this, with users able to log on, search for available storage space and arrange transportation to and from the site, all under the management of a single company. On top of this, other traditional 3PL services, such as ‘pick and pack’, can be added, further simplifying the process for those looking to scale up their stock holdings.

It’s also a revenue-generating tool for warehouse owners looking to fill vacant or under-utilised space. Businesses such as supermarkets, consumer goods companies and manufacturers have periods of peaks and troughs in demand, meaning that large areas of their owned space may be underused at certain times. opens up the possibility to quickly find a ‘tenant’ for a short period of time, creating a fresh business opportunity.

As the race for space heats up, our view is that the warehouse of the future will be a collaborative, online one that’s available whenever it’s needed.


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