Unless you're an airport terminal with guaranteed captive foot traffic, physical stores in brickspace are rapidly losing business and attention to online retailers and e-commerce platforms. From the behemoths like Amazon and Ebay to tiny independent fine craftspeople with shops on Etsy or society 6, sellers of goods and services perform the vast majority of their exchanges online. And, of course, real estate proved susceptible to the whims of the hyper-connected buyers.
No matter where you fall on the supply chain, from the sellers of raw construction materials to the seller of the completed house, the channels for distribution have changed permanently as a result of the internet and the huge expansion of e-commerce. Now, sellers can offer a plethora of ways to get stuff from one place to another. Especially with the rent for storage soaring, sellers have to make sure their distribution channels function at full capacity to keep the cost of storage, rent, and transportation as low as possible to stay abreast of the competition. Many sellers have even opted for an omnichannel approach to fulfilling orders -- sometimes they deliver, sometimes buyers come and pick up, and sometimes it's a creative combination of the two.
Warehouses and storage facilities are springing up by the dozen as the Amazons of the world need places to store their goods -- however, as is always the case in real estate, location is tantamount. Consider how important it is to sellers that their items are stored as close to a post office like Fed-Ex or UPS to ensure that same-day or next-day deliveries arrive at the homes of buyers when promised. Some real estate developers are buying up existing edifices near shipping companies and renovating them, where others are stockpiling land and building structures best suited for holding shipments.
Not only does this space need to be near to a shipping location, but its technological capabilities are increasingly important to large companies fulfilling thousands of purchases per day. With the Internet of Things, managers at storage units have an easier time than ever keeping track of the whereabouts of orders and how close they are to being ready to ship. For many prospective buyers or renters of storage space, the space's connectivity and amenability to the installation of modern tech are crucial.
Physical stuff isn't all storage facilities are holding anymore, though; data centers are popping up across the US to support, store, and back-up all the data and information that businesses need to run. Big organizations dedicate a significant proportion of their budget to make sure all their confidential and indispensable information is stored securely. The construction of data centers is extremely expensive, from the technological outfitting to the climate considerations to the necessary security that tenants need to deliver to clientele. Still, these ventures can prove lucrative as more precious information needs to be stored out of reach from hackers and ne'er-do-wells.
The impact of E-commerce on real estate has been real and immeasurable. As the needs of online retail and data storage continue to evolve, so too will the real estate needs of the industry, and we have to be amenable to them.