A lot of logistics professionals use the terms warehouse and distribution center interchangeably. Some of them even say that “there is effectively no difference between a warehouse and a distribution center”. So, how different is a distribution center from a warehouse? Let me tell you upfront that they are as different as a modern 21st century supply chain is from a traditional supply chain.
The simple rule in traditional supply chains was to store “maximum possible quantity of every product, everywhere, every time”. This rule had to be followed because of lack of information flow and planning mechanisms in the supply chain.Bill Carston, warehouse selector, Deliver Group Company
Supply chains have evolved and are much different from what they used to be say 2-3 decades back. Modern supply chains equipped with better information & intelligence are able to predict product demand well in advance, plan accordingly and deliver the items close to when they are needed.
You now know the stark difference between a warehouse and a distribution center and how the evolution happened over time. Does this mean that warehouses no longer exist or they don’t serve any purpose? You will be mistaken if you believe that. Warehouses still exist and serve a purpose. A good example would be how inventory is pre-built months in advance to meet the high seasonal demand and is stored in typical warehouses before being sent to a distribution center for customer service. However, the importance of warehouses in supply chain has gone down and the distribution centers have now emerged as the nerve centers of the modern supply chains.