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The Benefits of Microhubs

The world of logistics is changing, and rapidly. Although growth and development are inevitable in any industry when it comes to warehousing this trend seems to have been turbocharged in the last few years.

This has been due to several reasons. Brexit put restrictions on the flow of materials between countries while the pandemic drove a huge surge in online sales. On top of this, logistics companies face ongoing problems with labour shortages and changing customer attitudes that demand ever faster deliveries.

To remain competitive and gain market share retailers have had to meet these challenges. As a result they have been re-evaluating their approaches to warehouses. One of these developments has been the growth in microhubs.


What is a microhub?

Microhubs have been around for a number of years, but they really rose to prominence during the pandemic. Initially food retailers used them to meet demand, but adoption in these hubs is now growing into other online sectors.

Also known as micro-fulfilment centres or micro-distribution hubs, microhubs are essentially small storage spaces located in urban settings. With almost 84% of the UK population living within a city or large town, it is not hard to see why they are playing such a vital role in the world of logistics.

As their name suggests these facilities have a much smaller physical footprint. This creates opportunities to locate them almost anywhere, from unused business park units, spaces in existing stores and even parking lots. Most importantly they are dotted across cities to position a micro-hub usually within a few miles of the final delivery point. This offers businesses greater flexibility towards reducing costs, boosting sustainability credentials and, most importantly, speeding up delivery timescales.


How do Microhubs help businesses?

As you would expect, microhubs are not meant for long -term storage. They usually hold only a limited inventory and typically only about 24 to 48 hours’ worth of stock. As a result, creating a successful hub demands a precise stock management system with products chosen depending on the purchasing patterns for the area.

Although micro-managing your stock can be a challenging prospect it does benefit retailers. By understanding the behaviour of their customers it in turn enables them to finely tune their product offering. This has the knock-on effect of further reducing costs through less product wastage and minimising unnecessary transportation costs. Essentially you know which are the right products to stock in the right place at the right time.

Microhubs also present opportunities for smaller businesses that may otherwise be restricted by the prohibitive costs of larger warehouse spaces. SMEs can utilise the smaller hubs to increase their turnover and remain competitive with larger retailers.


How do Microhubs benefit customers?

Without doubt buying habits have changed and with it customers’ expectations. They no longer want to wait extended periods for their goods and increasingly demand same or next-day delivery options.

Of course, as the number of online orders increases so do the rising numbers of parcels trying to move across the country, using a network system that is already stretched. Delays are almost inevitable and longer distances between the warehouse and the end delivery point can quickly become problematic.

Microhubs help facilitate the requirements of the customer. They can be nimbler, avoid the pressures of peak traffic and deliver goods quickly, potentially for free. This enables retailers to become better equipped to meet expectations which hopefully results in repeat business.


Maximise the benefits of your microhub!

When it comes to racking and shelving equipment in any warehouse location you need to ensure it meets key criteria. Within a microhub, staying adaptable and flexible while increasing storage becomes even more important.

At Whittan, we have been working in the storage sector for over 70 years and manufacture a range of modular shelving and racking products that work within your space. A correctly designed storage equipment will maximise your area capabilities whilst also improving picking times and creating a highly organised stock management system.

Whittan can supply you with almost everything you need for setting up your warehouse. Our pallet racking and shelving systems are available in a wide range of sizes and duties that we configure to meet precise criteria. They are highly adaptable and we can reconfigure them if future requirements change.

With the potential for constantly changing stock profiles, you also need a system that remains flexible enough to quickly accommodate products in different sizes. Our range of supporting accessories include anything from shelf dividers to pick bins, louvre panels and even garment hanging rails. Our accessories integrate seamlessly with our racking and shelving solutions which we specify to match your stock requirements and increase picking efficiency.


Lowering your carbon footprint with microhubs

One of the big advantages of setting up a microhub is its ability to reduce a retailer’s carbon footprint. Vehicles on the road, especially in urban settings, lead to congestion and air pollution. By placing delivery points closer to the final destination, you can reduce the amount of traffic and travel time. It also opens up the possibility of using greener delivery options such as bikes or electric vehicles.

Sustainability doesn’t stop at how far your products travel. You need to design a storage solution correctly for its intended role and manufactured to the highest standards will achieve longevity and reliability and extending the life of a product can enhance your environmental credentials.

Our solutions meet British standard requirements and British Safety Council Certifications. We are also Full Manufacturing SEMA Members which means we submit our designs to independent product assessments to ensure they meet the highest standards.

Matt Grierson, European Sales Director at Whittan said: “As the logistics landscape changes and develops, so does the need for storage solutions that can work in any space. Microhubs are precisely controlled, fast-moving storage spaces and when it comes to your storage there is little room for error. That is why you need to work with an experienced manufacturer like Whittan. Our experienced project management team can work with your business to create the best storage solution to meet your timescale and budget."


Work with Whittan

Whether you’re looking for some pallet racking or shelving, lockers to keep belongings safe or you need additional floor space with a mezzanine level. As the largest UK manufacturer of storage solutions, we can deliver it all through our family of trusted and industry-leading brands.

Get in touch with a Whittan storage expert today and arrange a free consultation to discuss your requirements.

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