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How Surging E-commerce Change Workspace Design

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Every 11th November is no longer a singles’ day for people to tease. It has become an annual online shopping carnival for consumers. The rapid growth of e-commerce demand reveals the huge potential of online consumption in China, meanwhile is the confrontation between traditional and new media retail. According to the research, the national online retail sales exceeded 9 trillion RMB in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 25.4%.

In recent years, two opposite trends are happening in malls: the proportion of retail declines while the number of emerging experience businesses increases. Leisure and entertainment, catering, parent-child experience, and life services are occupying more and more locations. Consumers’ changing shopping habits drive express & logistics to rapidly develop. Since most people spend quite a long time staying in their workspace, it became normal seeing a large number of private courier deliveries. At the same time, distribution dynamics are playing a more important role for both working people and non-working people as well.

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As far as we know, if the building does not adjust accordingly after the user’s demands changed, the building is outdated. Though designers have considered the streamline for courier and large cargo at the beginning of workspace design, with the ever-changing consumption patterns, the logistics distribution needs are no longer meeting the initial demand. Especially in recent years, the courier and take-out (herein after referred as waimai) distribution streamline have become a problem for many office buildings.

Office buildings usually have a mailroom and storage space for parcels. However, as e-commerce shopping needs are evolving and the number of daily courier deliveries increases fast, the scale of those spaces is far from meeting the space requirements in office buildings. Some existing solutions have certain limitations, for example, setting up courier hive lockers or self-pickup at courier stations can prevent the delivery staff from moving through the building, and to some extent can solve the traffic impact on the public space and real estate management. However, the efficiency is low. A self-pickup solution needs users to circulate up and down several times, increasing the vertical traffic pressure. Another common and relatively good solution is the delivery distribution managed by the property management team. Although with higher costs, this way is more efficient and has no impact on public spaces.


Currently, a special form of express delivery called waimai is an explosive business. Being very recent, many workspaces did not consider such delivery requirements in their design phase. Waimai is distributed on order basis, instead of floor-by-floor as the courier delivery, with less sequence and a more irregular schedule. It needs numerous group of delivery staff going up and down many times inside of buildings. But many urban workspaces have access control especially during lunch time, making delivery staff's access and flows complicated. As a consequence, office lobbies are jammed with carriers waiting for their clients. This situation compromises the quality of public areas in workplaces, making them crowded and food-smelly. It adds pressure to lifts and stairs' flows as well. When solutions don't come easy to managements, they will control delivery access and circulation, such as prohibiting the staff’s non-motor vehicle parking or stopping them to access the building.

Robots or drones are intelligent solutions brought by the development of science and technology. However, a larger adoption of these means needs extra time and costs. is specialized in headquarters and workspace design. The Company pays continuous attention to the impact of logistics distribution on the workspace. We believe that design methods can be combined with building management to optimize the status of workspace for waimai and courier distribution. The current urban workspace has its streamline limitations. However, it is possible to solve the conflict, such as opening fire stairs and elevators, distributing in each stairwell, in orderto achieve high efficiency at low cost.

With a clear pedestrian directory and signage system design, the workspace is allowed to have efficient distribution streamlines. The recently completed project – JK 1933 along the North Suzhou River, Shanghai by was considered to design a streamline and signage guidance system for delivery staff.

In the new building’s design stage, we consider the guidance and streamline for waimai and courier delivery, plan the parking spaces for electric vehicles, and if necessary, set up cargo elevator or other vertical equipment to relief the later using pressure. If there is no comprehensive planning at the beginning, the later renewal may bring more troubles and restrictions.


About logonLAB

logonLAB is research department of logon. Founded in 2009, logonLAB is now a resource for knowledge innovation and sharing as well as for consulting on the development of projects. Formed by a multi-disciplinary team of experts, it includes a sociologist, urban planners, and designers.

Driven by the belief that understanding and intelligence make better projects, through an unconventional and non-dogmatic approach, logonLAB investigates urban, social, economic, cultural, industry aspects of changing cities and behaviors in China. With previous research on sustainability and smart cities behind, the LAB is now focusing on new evolving topics like urban regeneration and adaptive reuse, the evolution of workplaces and hospitality. QR.png
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