Even before the pandemic struck, e-commerce was growing apace, thriving in an environment when the most storied brick-and-mortar retailers were failing. While legacy chains such as J.C. Penney, Sears, and K-Mart were shuttering stores across the United States, e-commerce enterprises were experiencing extraordinary growth.
The e-commerce trend has only accelerated since COVID-19 forced protracted lockdowns worldwide. Indeed, online retailers have exhibited an exceptional capacity for innovation, agility, and resiliency in recent years.
Today, those characteristics are being demonstrated in a new and exciting form. The rapid proliferation of the warehouse-style coworking space is offering e-commerce businesses new and unprecedented opportunities for growth and expansion. But what exactly is warehouse-style coworking, and how might it benefit online businesses?
How warehouse-style coworking works
Warehouse-style coworking spaces function much like a typical coworking space, but with a bit of a twist. Warehouse-style coworking spaces enable businesses to consolidate operations, conducting sales, service, storage, inventory management, and shipping from a single location.
For e-retailers, warehouse-style coworking spaces offer all the advantages of a typical coworking space as well as the following benefits.
Cost-efficiency and scalability
As with a standard coworking space, warehouse-style coworking enables small businesses and startups to avoid the often exorbitant costs of building or renting a separate space for starting and shipping product. Administration, sales and marketing, and warehousing and logistics can all be performed in dedicated areas of a single large warehouse.
At the same time, such spaces enable entrepreneurs to share operating expenses, from utilities to furnishings to site rental, with fellow businesses inhabiting the space.
Warehouse-style coworking also offers a level of scalability not possible in smaller facilities. For small and growing businesses, the warehouse provides a site for expansion without exorbitant costs. The business can rent only as much square footage as it currently needs. However, as the business grows, so too can the amount of space that is rented — all this without requiring the company to relocate to a new, larger site.
This style of coworking is also a highly desirable option for e-commerce businesses because it provides a cost-effective alternative to ad hoc storage for small startups. In today’s period of rapid growth, online businesses need innovative solutions for product storage and distribution.
What may have been manageable from the business owner’s home or garage in the first months of operation often becomes logistically untenable if an e-commerce entrepreneur is to capitalize on the immense growth opportunities available in today’s market.
A desirable location
One of the most important decisions any business owner can make concerns what type of office space they will have and where it will be located. That decision can not only have a profound impact on productivity, operations, and growth, but it can also strongly influence employee performance and well-being.
After all, full-time employees will devote nearly one-third of their lives to their job. It stands to reason, then, that the work employees do will have a tremendous impact on both their physical and mental well-being.
For example, many employees struggle in fully remote environments. They may feel lonely, isolated, and anxious when working from home. A warehouse-style coworking space enables e-retailers to provide a physical space for employees to interact not only with their own coworkers but with other professionals. This kind of engagement can be powerfully motivating for employees, inspiring creativity and interest through immersion in a dynamic and diverse coworking space.
Further, studies have shown that employees perceive coworking spaces to be more collaborative than either traditional offices or remote environments, thus further enhancing employees’ sense of engagement, creativity, and job satisfaction.
Coworking spaces have proven to be an asset for small businesses and startups, providing a cost-efficient alternative to traditional office spaces or home-based operations.
The warehouse-style coworking space may well be the future of coworking for e-commerce businesses. Warehouse-style coworking enables entrepreneurs to consolidate operations and avoid the exorbitant costs of acquiring and maintaining multiple facilities.
These spaces also offer employees organization-wide the opportunity to work in an engaging, dynamic, diverse, and highly creative environment. Perhaps best of all, warehouse-style coworking facilitates scalability and agility for e-commerce enterprises, enabling a company’s physical footprint to grow as its needs do. This enables business owners to avoid the expense of paying for space they don’t need, as well as expenses associated with relocating when the company outgrows its present site.