The forgotten sons: Warehousing systems for brick-and-mortar retail chains

N Boysen, Rene de Koster, D Fuessler

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59 Citations (Scopus)
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Warehouses are an inevitable component in any supply chain and a vividly investigated object of research. Much attention, however, is absorbed by warehousing systems dedicated to the special needs of online retailers in the business-to-consumer segment. Due to the ever increasing sales volumes of e-commerce this focus seems self-evident, but a much larger fraction of retail sales are still realized by traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The special needs of warehouses servicing these stores are focused in this paper. While e-commerce warehouses face low-volume-high-mix picking orders, because private households tend to order just a few pieces per order from a large assortment, distribution centers of retail chains rather have to process high-volume-low-mix orders. We elaborate the basic requirements within both business segments and identify suited warehousing systems for brick-and-mortar stores (e.g., fully-automated case picking). The setup of each identified warehousing system is described, elementary decision problems are discussed, and the existing literature is surveyed. Furthermore, we identify future research needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2021

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© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

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