How Columbus is Leading E-Commerce Order Fulfillment in the Midwest

Established growth in online shopping has made Columbus a stable choice for Midwest e-commerce warehousing and logistics.

By Matt McCollister / December 4, 2023

Image of cargo being loaded into a cargo plane at Rickenbacker

With consumer spending trends leading to a 133% increase in global e-commerce sales between 2015 and 2021, there is no stopping the proliferation of online shopping. Logistics companies like DHL, XPO Logistics, UPS and FedEx all have operations in the Columbus Region, while a diverse retail industry consisting of Amazon, Lululemon, Big Lots, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie, and more take advantage of Central Ohio’s aptitude for e-commerce.

Companies are also expanding in the Region, creating new jobs, and boosting Columbus’ ability to streamline the supply chain for a bevy of industries. Central Ohio facilitates access to more than 150 million people within a one-day drive, and the Region is steeped in available industrial sites and facilities, providing quick turn service for business development.

Recent Growth in Columbus’ Logistics Industry

Columbus is a rapidly growing logistics hub, with several prominent companies expanding their operations in the region. DHL, a leader in the global logistics industry, recently unveiled ambitious plans to construct a massive 775,000 square-foot facility in Violet Township, close to their supply chain headquarters in Westerville.

This state-of-the-art facility, set to open in the latter half of 2024, will not only bring around 200 jobs but also harness cutting-edge robotics and automation technology. DHL cited the invaluable support of Violet Township and Fairfield County in removing development obstacles and making the project financially viable.

Another key player, ODW Logistics, strengthened its presence in the Region by leasing a substantial 540,000 square-foot facility near Rickenbacker International Airport in 2023. This expansion marked the 14th distribution facility for ODW in Central Ohio, pushing their total Midwest e-commerce warehousing space to 4 million square feet.

The strategic choice of Columbus aligns with ODW’s mission as a retail consolidation center, offering shippers the opportunity to pool less than truckload (LTL) freight, thereby reducing transportation costs. Columbus’ central location in the Midwest and Ohio makes it an ideal destination for ODW’s growth strategy, further elevating the city’s prominence as a logistics hotspot. Additionally, Whiplash, a prominent logistics solutions provider, bolstered the Region’s logistics landscape with the inauguration of a cutting-edge 437,589 square-foot omnichannel facility in Columbus in 2022.

The facility represents the company’s largest footprint in the Region and — in addition to the creation of 216 new jobs — responded to the soaring demand for e-commerce fulfillment centers both in Central Ohio and across the U.S. Whiplash’s Columbus expansion caters to customers seeking centralized supply chain access and shorter delivery times, contributing to the city’s growing reputation as a logistics and distribution powerhouse.

Columbus’ Supreme Logistics Amenities

Central Ohio facilitates logistics, strengthening the supply chain whether locally, nationally or internationally. The Region is a multimodal hub for distribution, complete with the North American International Freight Center which includes cargo-dedicated Rickenbacker International Airport, four intermodal facilities, and Foreign Trade Zone 138 — one of the top FTZs in the U.S. for warehousing and distribution.

Chicago, Illinois, Atlanta, Georgia, and Toronto, Canada are all within a 500-mile drive of the Columbus Region. Cost efficient rail service is also available through Norfolk Southern and CSX, with three intermodal terminals providing 800,000 container lifts annually.

Talent is another key aspect of what makes e-commerce businesses so successful in the Region, with an existing workforce of 90,000 and several logistics and supply chain management training programs including Ohio University’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs

Developing Midwest E-commerce Warehousing Solutions

Even amidst Columbus’ stellar infrastructure, the Region could never be the Midwest e-commerce warehousing hub that it is without ample development sites and facilities. The Columbus Region is staying ahead of demand for industrial space with several built to suit (BTS) and speculative warehouse projects completed in recent years.

In 2023, more than 3 million square feet of development was completed to accommodate growth in Columbus’ logistics industry. Additionally, several facilities that were completed in 2022 have been fully leased, including one million square feet of the strategically located Rickenbacker Exchange Building right next to the airport. Seven million square feet in further development is planned for 2024, including the nearly one million square-foot Pinchal LG Logistics Park.

Midwest e-commerce warehousing is on the rise, and the Columbus Region is a centralized hub with over 5,000 logistics establishments. To learn how to become a part of the growing industry in the Columbus Region, contact our dedicated team.



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