Choosing the right industrial warehouse solutions for your business is critical. The process must be attended to with methodical and strategic consideration, lending warehouse planning its complex and often time-consuming nature.
This guide will walk you through five key considerations for choosing the warehouse solutions that are right for your business.
1. Location, Location, Location
Where to locate your warehouse is one of your most fundamental considerations. Location will directly affect the ease and efficiency with which you can transport and store your products. When considering warehouse solutions, a good location will be near convenient transport routes such as railways, motorways or a shipping port. The size and scope of your warehousing needs will also play a role in your final location choice.
Thing to consider:
- If you are part of a smaller company, consider locating a facility close to your primary population of customers or your company office
- If you operate on a larger, multi-market scale, consider locations that will make supplying regional demand as simple as possible
The choice of location for your warehouse will be strongly based on your growth goals as a business, so be sure to consider both short and long-term needs.
2. Type of Warehouse
When it comes to warehouse solutions, the two factors to consider for those looking to outsource are timeframe and cost.
If you’re seeking warehousing for seasonal inventory, public warehouses are usually the way to go.
Public warehouses are geared toward providing short-term storage to a variety of clients. They will generally charge on a month-to-month basis, which might include a combination of storage and transaction fees (inbound and outbound).
Alternatively, contract warehouses are best for long-term contracts.
Contract warehouses handle the shipping and storage of products on a contract-by-contract basis. They typically require clients to commit for a time that is specified up front (often years), and payment is based on a number of factors beyond just storage space, such as subsidizing equipment used to manage products.
Cost of Warehouse Solutions
Warehouse costs are complicated and can encompass far more than the price of square footage. The cost of your warehousing needs will depend primarily on product and fulfillment needs. Many of these more specific requirements are outlined below.
The kind of access you’ll need to your goods are another factor that should come into play when choosing the right warehousing solution. Things to keep in mind:
- Will the warehouse be accessed by others? If so, consider by whom and how often so you can spot potential timing conflicts
- How often will you need to access your products? Will you need to be able to frequently access the facility, or will you be comfortable with your products being solely handled by an outside facility?
- What will be your shipping and receiving schedule? Will it be frequent and steady or on an irregular, seasonal or infrequent basis?
These are all critical points to have pre-determined to communicate to your potential warehousing provider.
4. Capabilities and Services Offered
The specific amenities and services offered by warehousing businesses will vary widely. Some things to consider when addressing this aspect:
- Equipment capacity
Considering these characteristics of your warehousing options will help you determine whether they are able to handle the volume, variety and specific requirements of your product(s).
There are a number of other specific accommodations that warehousing providers can offer depending on your product needs. You need to ensure that your warehouse can manage any additional facility requirements you may have, such as:
- Sterile storage facilities (for products like chemicals or delicate electronics)
- Climate control (maintenance of both temperature and humidity levels)
Additionally, warehouses might employ value-added services such as:
- Processing & assembly of final products
- Product labeling
- Inventory management, reporting and fulfillment
- Protection & risk bearing of products going in and out of the warehouse
Finally, consider how familiar the warehouse staff might need to be with handling your products. Warehouse staff should be knowledgeable about any special handling requirements, safety considerations, packing and storing requirements; optimal loading plans; and equipment usage. Ultimately, they should be able to offer the correct services to store, ship and pack your products in a way that leaves you feeling secure.
5. Efficiency in Product Management & Fulfillment
Last, how involved will your warehouse provider need to be in terms of fulfillment of your products? Inquire as to the specific logistics and fulfillment options the warehouse provides, and consider how critical this will be for your business success.
If your warehouse will be providing fulfillment services, ensure that they are using a warehouse management system. Inventory control will be critical if you are using a long-term contract warehouse, especially one that may be far away from your regular office site. Ensure that your warehouse solutions will be able to provide frequent and precise inventory information so that you can keep your suppliers up to date and accurately plan and coordinate for upcoming customer demands.
The perfect warehouse solutions for your business will be determined by a wide variety of factors, all of which should play an active role in your selection process. If you can, be sure to visit all of your potential warehousing facilities and, finally, make certain that your potential service provider is good about communicating, especially when it comes to how they will be able to meet your particular needs.
Ultimately, it will be critical to be thorough with your considerations when choosing your warehouse solutions, as a small oversight could mean much bigger costs if you end up having to repeat this process a short way down the road.
Outsourcing your warehousing and fulfillment needs can be the perfect solution when the service suits your business model, day-to-day requirements and future goals. As your warehousing service can ideally tend to the logistics of getting your product out to customers, you can focus more on building and developing what really matters – your core business.
Featured image by Doug