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Maximizing Warehouse Efficiency in the Age of eCommerce Growth


Shopping from your phone or computer is easier than ever — eCommerce has dramatically transformed retail from only brick-and-mortar stores to now digital storefronts, and it continues to grow. While the rise of eCommerce has led to increased demand, it has also resulted in new challenges for warehouse operations

To support the increasing demand for online shopping, efficient warehouse management is essential in reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction. In this article, we’ll break down strategies for maximizing warehouse efficiency and the advantages of implementing dynamic storage solutions for enhanced operational efficiency. 

The Rise of eCommerce and Its Impact on Warehouses

In 1999, online sales accounted for less than 1% of total retail sales. By 2023, eCommerce sales accounted for 15.4% of total sales. And with phones and tablets, it’s easier than ever for consumers to place online orders — they can buy their favorite products from home, work, or even on the go. Mobile eCommerce sales reached $2.2 trillion in 2023, making up 60% of all eCommerce sales around the world. 

While eCommerce growth is a good sign for businesses with digital storefronts, this supply chain trend creates new operational challenges, especially for warehouses with inefficient storage practices. These are a few top challenges we’re hearing from warehouse managers in the age of eCommerce:

  • Space Constraints: From struggling to maximize storage for an ever-increasing number of SKUs to insufficient storage for product volume, space constraints are a common concern.
  • Need for Speed: Not only are warehouses storing more inventory but they’re expected to fulfill and ship eCommerce orders faster than ever. Inefficient storage can further slow down the fulfillment process, especially for retailers supporting omnichannel fulfillment models. 
  • Scalability Issues: Retail experiences seasonality in shopping patterns. Warehouses need versatile storage solutions that can fluctuate with business needs and changes in the market throughout the year and over time. 

Maximizing Warehouse Efficiency with Dynamic Storage Solutions

Dynamic storage solutions solve for many of these warehouse challenges by enhancing space utilization and adapting to changing inventory needs. Let’s dive into two different types of dynamic storage, carton flow systems and high-density storage solutions, and how they improve warehouse optimization. 


The Role of Carton Flow Systems in Modern Warehouses

Carton flow systems use full-width roller lanes or wheel bed tracks and gravity to push products forward as they are picked from the rack. These systems drop into existing pallet racks and can store a variety of product types and sizes. 

Carton flow systems are ideal for order picking, which is especially challenging in eCommerce and omnichannel fulfillment operations, where pickers typically pull individual SKUs to fulfill a smaller, multi-SKU order. In these cases, carton flow racks can increase operational efficiency by as much as 75%. Here are a few additional benefits of using carton flow systems for eCommerce fulfillment:

  • Creates FIFO storage, automatically replenishing SKUs to increase fulfillment speed and pick rates
  • Enhances SKU accessibility and visibility
  • Eliminates unnecessary picker travel 
  • Improves space optimization

Advantages of Dynamic High-Density Storage Solutions

Dynamic high-density storage solutions consolidate large volumes of SKUs into highly organized, efficient space. These solutions are designed for person-to-goods order picking and are made for workers to hand-stock and hand-pick products from movable shelving. 

High Density Storage Solutions
Here are a few of the many benefits of high-density storage solutions:

  • Optimizes order picking by creating shorter pick paths, leading to more picks per hour
  • Saves space and increases throughput within your existing footprint
  • Stores inventory in easy-to-reach places, minimizing strain on workers

Dynamic high-density storage solutions can be tailored to accommodate various product types and sizes. Learn more about the benefits of high-density storage and discover the three essential steps to design your own high-density storage system

SpanTrack Lane Carton Flow Rollers

Efficient, durable, and dependable, SpanTrack Lane carton flow rollers drop into existing structures to create the ultimate carton flow rack system for manufacturing facilities and order picking operations.

SpanTrack Carton Flow Beds

SpanTrack wheel beds are flexible carton flow beds that drop into existing structures to create the ultimate flow rack system for order picking operations, manufacturing facilities, and more.

SpeedCell Dynamic High-Density Shelving

SpeedCell is a dynamic high-density shelving solution that maximizes space utilization within standard pallet racking, helping warehouse and backroom operations improve pick speed and accuracy for valuable time and cost savings.


Implementing UNEX Solutions for Enhanced Operational Efficiency

At UNEX, we offer two industry-leading dynamic storage solutions that are ideal for retail warehouses tackling omnichannel fulfillment: SpanTrack carton flow and SpeedCell high-density storage. Unlike static storage, these solutions help warehouses maximize every inch of space, fulfill orders faster, and adapt as demand changes.

UNEX-SpanTrack-Lane-Circle-2SpanTrack Carton Flow

UNEX SpanTrack is a carton flow storage solution that can be configured for a warehouse’s unique needs. SpanTrack’s space-saving design utilizes the full height and depth of existing pallet rack to optimize every inch of space. 

SpanTrack Lane and SpanTrack Wheel Bed drop into existing structures to create the ultimate flow rack system for order picking operations. They can be customized with various end treatments, making them ideal for full case picking or each picking. Learn more about each: 

  • SpanTrack Lane: These carton flow rollers eliminate hang-ups with 300% more product contact than plastic wheel rails and are optimized for product stacking. 
  • SpanTrack Wheel Bed: These carton flow beds offer maximum left-to-right flexibility for reslotting while optional shark fin infeed guides ease replenishment. 

So, how can UNEX carton flow storage solutions increase efficiency in your eCommerce fulfillment operations? SpanTrack can help:

  • Increase Your Warehouse’s Storage Capacity. SpanTrack optimizes space utilization and improves picker accessibility, allowing warehouses to store more inventory onsite and prevent delays in order fulfillment. 
  • Create Timely Inventory Control. SpanTrack’s rear-loading, front-picking design follows first-in-first-out (FIFO) best practices. Inventory that’s loaded first will be picked first. 
  • Streamline Order Fulfillment. SpanTrack helps streamline order fulfillment in several ways. It improves order picking, expands storage capacity, and easily integrates with automated conveyor systems.

carton flow

Retailer Cutter & Buck, a distributor of active lifestyle apparel, uses more than 4,000 SpanTrack wheel beds in their high-tech eCommerce distribution center. “We are exceeding performance expectations, largely because of the efficient systems we have in place,” says Mark Alexander, Operations Manager at Cutter & Buck. “The wheel beds are a big part of that picture.”

SpeedCell-Ready-BaySpeedCell High-Density Storage 

UNEX SpeedCell is a dynamic high-density storage solution that maximizes space utilization within existing standard pallet racking. SpeedCell can compress 200’ of rack or shelving into 40’ of highly organized space, increasing storage density without expanding your warehouse footprint. Learn more about SpeedCell’s features: 

  • Column Sizes: SpeedCell columns are available in 6 different sizes, from XS to XXL, making it ideal for various product sizes and SKU throughput. Each cell holds up to 35 lbs, and columns hold up to 240 lbs. 
  • Durable Material: Featuring a no-fray vinyl with an interwoven mesh inside, SpeedCell’s strong material is fire and flame-resistant and will not mold or rust.
  • Steel Set System: SpeedCell columns are hung from a patented steel track system using high-strength webbing that integrates into any type of pallet rack beams. 
  • Label Holders: Every “cell” has a unique location label holder, making it easy to locate your product, no matter what picking methodology your warehouse uses. 

While SpeedCell is designed to integrate into your new or existing racking, we also offer SpeedCell Ready Bay, which includes SpeedCell columns in your choice of size, pre-assembled steel set suspension system, UNEX-supplied racking, and wire deck. 

high density storage solutions
Here’s why SpeedCell is an ideal storage solution for eCommerce operations:

  • Saves Space: Today’s eCommerce warehouses store more SKUs than ever, and SpeedCell helps store more SKUs in less space, increasing storage density by 40-60%. 
  • Reduces Lost or Damaged Inventory: Your customers want their orders quickly, and SpeedCell helps your pickers find SKUs faster, while protecting inventory from dust, moisture, and other damage, which can slow down operations. 
  • Enables Flexible Storage: SpeedCell can be tailored to your warehouse’s unique needs and is a flexible storage solution that can easily be reconfigured to align with your ever-changing storage needs.   
  • Increases Pick Facings: By increasing pick facings and SKU density, warehouse workers spend less time looking for SKUs, so they can focus on fulfilling eCommerce orders and restocking inventory.

Don’t just take our word for it — Overton’s, a water sports retail giant, implemented SpeedCell and saw efficiency improve by 20-30%, pick locations increase by 150%, and the number of orders picked per day per employee increased. Learn more about how SpeedCell helped Overton’s avoid costly warehouse renovations. 

Empowering Your Warehouse for Tomorrow’s eCommerce Landscape

In the age of eCommerce growth, warehouses need to invest in carton flow and high-density storage solutions to maximize warehouse efficiency. We’ve seen these solutions drastically improve warehouse operations for numerous retailers. Whether your warehouse needs help maximizing the space you already have or speeding up order picking, the UNEX team is here to help you determine which storage solutions are best for your concerns. 

Contact us today to learn more about SpanTrack, SpeedCell, and our entire suite of dynamic storage solutions.

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