What is a Distribution Center (DC) in retail? Learn the DC secrets in our Tour Report

The current pace of business development contributes to the emergence of new systems and methods of control and management. At the same time, not only the business sectors themselves develop, but also those areas that provide services to them.

The current pace of business development contributes to the emergence of new systems and methods of control and management. At the same time, not only the business sectors develop. Those areas that provide services to them develop also. So with the development of large retail chains, logistics companies have developed a supply chain management system for retailers. This allows you to save on supplies and make delivery more convenient and regular.


In modern logistics, the distribution center DC – it is a warehouse where shipments to other company’s warehouses come from. At the same time trading with DC is never conducted. In addition to redistribution to other warehouses, the function of DC also includes repacking, packing, labeling, bar-coding, customs clearance and certification of the cargo.


Members of the group


To improve business efficiency and optimize product flows, our corporate clients went to a retail tour in Spain and Germany. During that week, the tour participants were studying all the subtleties of complex services for the creation of a distribution center, which is an effective tool in business.

Day 1
Amazon и Mecalux

Our tour started in Barcelona with a visit to Amazon, and its center of order execution – a true anchor of the company's physical operations.

This center is located in 15 minutes from the capital of Catalonia, in the logistics area of  El Prat de Llobregat. 

In Amazon, Barcelona

#interestingfacts_ff about Amazon DC

  • the center has been operating since 2017
  • its area is 210,000 square meters, distributed on 4 floors
  • 3 floors are equipped with robots, about 3000 robots are involved
  • about 1,300 permanent employees work in the center
  • Amazon's orders are formed here, as well as orders of sellers, who participate in the program of the “virtual showcase” of Amazon - Amazon Marketplace. 

Due to the high interest in the company's unique logistics processes, visitors are offered a unique opportunity to sign up and take part in the tour. One of the main characteristics of the center, which was visited by the tour participants, is its equipping with robots, which undoubtedly increase productivity. For comparison, in the center of El Prat, which involves robotics, 50% more orders are processed than in the center near Madrid, which is not equipped with similar technologies.

Group members also visited the Mecalux company, one of the leading companies in the warehouse systems market. Its activities are related to the development, production, sale, and provision of services related to metal shelving, automated warehouses, and other warehouse solutions.

MECALUX Warehouses

MECALUX was founded in 1966 in Barcelona by Mr. José Luis Carillo. Initially, the company's activity was focused on the production of perforated shelves. Over time, the product range has been systematically expanded. It is the largest company in Spain, and third in the world in its industry and sells its products in more than 70 countries and has 11 production centers.

Our group visited the headquarters of this company in Cornellà de Llobregat and was able to see the solutions presented in the company's showroom, as well as the innovations in the innovative R&D center, which are usually closed to the public.  

The delegation of our host speakers consisted of the head of the export department, the export manager of Eastern and Central Europe and the head of the innovation center.

Multi-storey warehouses MECALUX

#interestingfacts_ff about Mecalux:

  • Automated warehouses for pallet storage
  • Pallet stacker cranes
  • Three-way automated stacker crane
  • Conveyor systems for pallets
  • Pallet Shuttle storage system
  • Automated warehouses for Mini-Load box storage
  • Stacker cranes for boxes
  • Conveyor systems for boxes.
Day 2
BEUMER company in Germany

On the second day, the participants of our tour moved to Düsseldorf airport, where they went to the headquarters of BEUMER. 

The mission of the company:

We strive for long-term success, not for short-term profit.
BEUMER company

The BEUMER Group is a leading global manufacturer of intralogistics systems for transportation, loading, palletizing, packaging, sorting and distribution.

  • The staff of the BEUMER Group is about 4,200 employees, and the annual turnover is about 770 million euros.
  • Companies and representative offices of the BEUMER Group offer customers around the world high-quality system solutions and an extensive service network in industries such as bulk and piece cargo transportation, food, light and construction industries, postal and courier services and baggage handling airports.

#interestingfacts_ff about the company BEUMER:

  • the company was founded in 1935 by Bernard Boymer and began its activities with the production of conveyor belts for the extraction of raw materials from quarries.
  • at the moment the company is managed by its owner from the third generation of Beumer.

Beumer Group remains a private family-owned company and is not a part of holdings and groups, despite its market leadership and economic performance.

The group visited the company's headquarters, met with a representative of the company from its Russian representative office, visited a showroom with various solutions, R&D center, and an assembly shop. The tour participants were the most interested in the processes of warehouse logistics.

About innovations in the processes of warehouse logistics of the BEUMER company. The tour participants visited the R&D center and assembly shop. Here is what the company says to its customers:


We offer complete solutions from one source for automating all stages of the sorting and distribution process, including the delivery of reliable computer equipment. We provide high-quality solutions through the design of modern systems that combine our own development and high-class products of leading companies.


For receiving there are very important parameters such as speed, coordination, and efficiency, especially when it comes to reducing costs and order processing time.


Effective transportation management ensures a clear implementation of all aspects of receiving and sending, prompt maintenance of cargo traffic and rational use of resources.


Reliable, accurate data about individual load units is necessary for correct and quick sorting. Our sorting solutions can be equipped with a variety of identification systems, such as laser scanners, image scanners, OCR and RFID.


Process management has to control, check and optimize technological processes and, accordingly, complete tasks more successfully. 


The BEUMER Group offers a large selection of automated storage, transporting and handling (AS / RS) solutions that automatically send goods for storage and retrieve them at the right time for production processing or for shipment. No matter whether we are storing spare parts, loaded pallets or stacks of containers in high-bay warehouses, the BEUMER Group offers you easily integrable systems for efficient inventory management.


The range of high-performance sorting equipment of the BEUMER Group includes:

  • Tilt Tray Sorter
  • E-Tray Sorter
  • Belt Tray Sorter
  • LS-4000E Tilt-Tray Sorter
  • LS-4000CB Cross-Belt Sorter
  • LS-4000flexbelt Sorter
Day 3

On the third day, the tour participants visited the head office of the European region of the company DEMATIC. This company is a leading provider of solutions for warehouse equipment, freight traffic, and intralogistics.

Long-term and trusting relationships with customers: some of the DEMATIC customers have been cooperating with the company for over 20 years.

The fundamental principles of the company are expressed in three keywords: SMART, RAPID, FLEXIBLE.

We gain new experience in the company Dematic

They are represented by individual islands in the Imagination Center. The group spent a full day at the European head office of DEMATIC, visited the Imagination Center, where the company’s history and the concept were presented. Also, there were multimedia materials with all the presented solutions - the Technological Center, where the guys could see various solutions of the company for the automation of storage facilities.

Visit the company DEMATIC

#interestingfacts_ff about the company DEMATIC::

  • the company's headquarters is located in Atlanta, USA
  • 60 engineering centers are located in 25 countries
  • production is carried out in the USA, Europe, China, and Australia
  • there are over 4000 employees 
  • in the company's baggage, there are over 6000 installed systems of various sizes, levels of complexity and degree of automation
  • the company's portfolio includes both individual products and complete solutions for storage, sorting, and transportation of goods, as well as collecting orders.
Day 4

Our day began with a visit to the highly automated DC - one of the leaders of Spanish retail EROSKI. It is located in the Spanish region of the Basque Country. We saw the demonstration of some of the solutions for the automation of storage space from the company ULMA.

Eroski was recognized as the best online supermarket in Spain in 2017 and 2018.

It is interesting to note that the company Eroski is a part of the cooperative group Mongradón.

Visit to Eroski

#интересныефакты_ff about Eroski:

  • Eroski works according to the principle of a cooperative model, and the company’s clients are also a part of the cooperative
  • Eroski is one of the largest distribution companies in Spain, with more than 2,000 stores of various formats and 385 000 employees.
  • The company is serious about the implementation of environmental initiatives, for which it received the Lean & Green Award from the Spanish association AECOC


ULMA group enterprises are represented in 81 countries in various parts of the world; its staff includes more than 5,100 employees, and the annual turnover in 2017 amounted to more than 850 million euros.

ULMA is part of the cooperative model of the Mondragón group. The company's philosophy is based on the following values: cooperation, participation, innovation, and competitiveness.

ULMA company

#интересныефакты_ff about ULMA:

The story that led to the creation of the current ULMA group began in the late 50s when six young mechanics began their activities in the old premises of Onyate city. Their intention was to devote themselves to technical work, serving the flourishing chocolate industry at that time. A few years later, in 1961, after several meetings with José Mª Arizmendiarrieta, inspired by the model of the Mondragon Cooperative Experience, they decided to create an industrial cooperative Talleres ULMA S.C.I. dedicated to the production of packaging machines. 

Company structure: the group has 8 strategic divisions, including ULMA Handling and ULMA Construction, acting under the same trademark and the following slogan:

One Brand, 8 Businesses Infinite possibilities 


2.Architectural solutions 

3.Forklift Trucks


5. Conveyor components 

6.Handling Systems 


8. Piping 

Day 5

On the fifth day of the tour, our group visited the headquarters of Vanderlande in Verhele, as well as the UPS sorting logistics center.

Chatting with Vanderlande employees

Long-term partners of Vanderlande: ASDA, EDEKA, Carrefour, LIDL, TESCO, Albert Heijn, Kaufland.

This company is a large organization and group of companies; its branches and representative offices are located throughout the world, and there are also own production sites in Europe and Asia. The company operates in three directions related to the supply of automated integrated systems:

  • airports (baggage handling)
  • mail systems
  • automated systems for warehouse and distribution complexes

Also, an important part of the company's activities is maintenance.

At the office of Vanderlande

#интересныефакты_ff about Vanderlande:

  • 70 years of experience
  • Net income in 2018 was 1.4 million euros
  • The number of orders received exceeded 1.5 million Euros 
  • Order portfolio is 1.808 million euros
  • Global presence
  • More than 5,500 employees.
  • AIRPORTS: equipment handles more than 10.1 million pieces of luggage every day. The company's equipment is installed in more than 600 airports.
  • POSTAL SYSTEMS. More than 39 million units of mailings are sorted every day on its equipment.

UPS visit

It was founded in 1907 as a courier service in the United States. UPS has grown into a multi-billion dollar corporation, following a strategy to support and synchronize commerce around the world. The company has a leading position in the field of supply chain management, offering a variety of options for synchronizing cargo, information and cash flows. UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories in the world.

UPS visit

Global Results:

  • Revenues in 2017 - $ 66 billion
  • Delivered cargo in 2017 - 5.1 billion cargo and documents
  • 20 million cargoes and documents were delivered per day.
  • 3.1 million of which were international cargo and documents
Loading in UPS

#интересныефакты_ff about UPS:

  • European service area in - 56 countries
  • More than 19,000 retail outlets (UPS Centers, MBE Centers, authorized UPS Centers, Kiala Centers, and UPS Access Point ™)
  • European operating centers in - more than 400 (including more than 500,000m2 of sorting areas)
  • Employees - more than 49,000 in Europe, 454,000 in the world (374,000 in the USA; 80,000 in other countries)
  • Transport in Europe - more than 9,500 (cars, vans, and tractors)
  • Daily flights - within Europe 168; Intercontinental 141.
  • Serviced airports - within Europe 56; Intercontinental 12
  • European Aviation Hub - Cologne / Bonn (Germany)
Day 6

The tour to the distribution centers of Europe has come to the end. For our company, it is very important in the organization of any tour to combine both business programs and cultural programs. And a wonderful finale was a tour to Amsterdam - a city so beloved by travelers. Only 800 thousand people live in this city, but it hosts 20 million tourists every year.

Amsterdam Tour

# interestingfacts_ff:

  • Amsterdam is a city of bridges. There are more bridges than in Venice. One of the most famous is the Bridge of 15 Bridges, from which you can see 14 other bridges of the city.
  • In Amsterdam there are many channels with famous floating houses. 
  • On the building of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, there is a statue of a titan holding a globe on his shoulders - a symbol of the flourishing of the trade. Above the entrance to the Bankruptcy Chamber in the same building, there is placed a relief of Icarus. He should have warned merchants to avoid unwarranted risks. For you to remember, Ikar received wings from his father but forgot about the rule not to fly close to the sun. As a result, he fell into the sea and drowned.
  • Probably everyone knows that Peter I lived in Holland for more than a year. In Amsterdam, on this occasion remained a memorial plaque at the cable factory, where he worked as a simple worker.

Friends, today Alexey Glushchuk flew to Las Vegas. Being an escort of a retail tour group in the USA is both responsible and very fascinating: 4 cities, 6 flights, no visibility of activities in the Valley - only facts and insights from the top managers of companies, only serious first-hand training!


Participants of the management tour have learned the secrets of the largest companies in the world from first hand.

Join the FastForward management tours and get a unique experience from industry leaders!

The impressions of previous US tours participants:
Having already taken part in educational tours, these people are happy to share their knowledge and impressions.
Anton Nesiforov
Anton NesiforovProcess Manager for fruit and vegetable preservation, beverages, and alcohol

On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.

Alena Nesiforova
Alena NesiforovaUnified Concept Manager for Izbenka and VkusVill

We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.