What is distribution space?

Distribution space is one of the most important parts of global supply chains. It’s what allows stores to maintain well-stocked shelves, permits manufacturers to supply wholesale and retail outlets with products and enables e-commerce for millions of consumers. Distribution space is often housed in warehouses, one-story buildings that cover large areas of land. Once products are made—t-shirts, generators, potato chips, computers, etc.—they are sent in bulk, usually by truck, to well-located distribution spaces. From there, the companies or logistics providers manage the distribution of smaller shipments of goods to stores or, increasingly, to individual customers. Effective distribution space is designed to facilitate the easy and efficient drop-off and pickup of shipping containers.

Where is distribution space located?

Distribution space is located in and around major cities and population centers. Distribution space is often constructed near major transportation facilities, such as airports, seaports and railroad freight terminals. In many areas, distribution space is built near the junction of major interstate highways, affording easy access to trucks.

What distinguishes good distribution space?

Beyond having a great location, quality distribution space is typically characterized by several attributes, including ease of access for high numbers of trucks, large buildings that can accommodate a significant volume of goods, sustainable design that creates a pleasant place to work, and the latest innovations in lighting, cooling and technology.

What role does distribution space play in e-commerce?

Companies are increasingly locating distribution space in cities and near other large population concentrations, often to facilitate e-commerce. As more and more companies offer next-day and same-day delivery, distribution space frequently functions as a fulfillment center, where employees prepare individual shipments and handle returns. Highly automated and able to stock numerous items, effective distribution space enables a small number of employees to handle a large number of individual shipments and process returns.