Editor’s note: We take a deep dive into this subject in the article “The Future of Logistics” in the Winter 2016 edition of Knowledge Leader. Download a digital copy today.

firstlast1Digital population is growing exponentially, with China and India leading the way. (Click to enlarge.)

The world is embracing the e-commerce model. Technologically-savvy Millennials and members of Generation X, who choose to conduct an increasing amount of their shopping digitally, are becoming a larger majority of the population. Simultaneously, fast-developing markets such as India, China, Turkey and Brazil have rapidly adopted mobile technology, choosing to shop on the go. This huge boom in digitally-powered retail has opened the path to different delivery methods, such as Amazon’s “Prime Now” feature, which uses local distributors to get products to customers in just an hour’s time.

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Amazon Distribution Center size range in North America [Million SF]

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Warehousing networks and distribution centers (DCs) are key to making the push for change in global logistics successful. Distribution centers that cater to the “first mile” are growing larger and more technologically-sophisticated. These mega DCs cater to national and regional markets and cover millions of square feet; automation is common and necessary to handle the sheer amount of products present in the market.

While the first mile distribution centers are expanding, “last mile” warehouses are becoming more flexible, with an increasing number of small urban warehouses being added into sellers’ distribution networks. Once the most inefficient part of the supply chain, modern iterations of last mile are proliferating across global cities, allowing for faster delivery to target locations.

Though changes are already in full force across first-and last mile centers globally, projected growth of urban populations and digital trends calls for even more expansion. This means that we can expect to see the industrial and logistics sector flourish even more in the very near future.

Colliers International’s Global Industrial and Logistics report features facts and insights from Colliers International researchers around the globe. Download From First Mile to Last Mile to get the full picture.

Damian Harrington is Director and Head of Research for Colliers International in EMEA. He has lived and worked across the region, has a focus on investment and a love of “all things shed,” even the garden variety.