Traditionally, e-commerce warehouses have taken the format of massive one-story buildings, due to the nature of the logistical work required to sort, stock, pick, and ship — with thousands of people, robots, and vehicles making the system work.
That’s why we were intrigued to read reports of Amazon reportedly (although nothing has been confirmed) building multiple four-story fulfillment centers currently — in Oak Creek, Wisconson (near Milwaukee), Garner, North Carolina (near Raleigh), Bakersfield, California (somewhat near Los Angeles), and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota (near Minneapolis). Per Bisnow,
Though no centers have been publicly confirmed as meant for Amazon, reporting across the country has connected the tech company to four nearly identical plans, each for a four-story warehouse totaling around 2.5M SF…
Modern distribution centers tend to require such high clearances and so much truck activity that multistory buildings have not made financial sense in the past, but in urban areas like Atlanta and New York where space is so tough to come by and access to the population center is so important, developers have started to make it work.
Amazon’s investment in logistics provides it a substantial competitive advantage over e-commerce competitors. If Amazon is able to build four-story warehouses in areas that only allow for buildings with smaller footprints than what would be needed for a traditional one-story FC of that size, that advantage is likely going to get bigger.