If you’re in the business of storing and shipping, you know that the proper management of existing inventory can have a major impact on your customers’ experience and your own bottom line. Whether you’re an e-commerce brand shipping directly to customers or a brick-and-mortar store outgrowing your current capacity for storage, well-organized warehousing solutions prepare businesses for accurate product tracking and consistent, successful deliveries.
What Is Warehousing?
We’ve all heard some version of the story — an entrepreneur’s passion project that began in a garage sees exponential growth, and suddenly that garage is a significant hindrance to the growth potential of a business ready to truly take off. No matter the background or size of your business, successful expansion will inevitably require more physical space to meet changing needs.
Warehousing is the solution offered to business owners looking to trust experts with the storage of their physical products. It is one of the primary offerings of businesses specializing in order fulfillment services, which can also include the management, organization, and shipping of said items. Outsourcing storage is a handy alternative to renting out a storage unit or leasing warehouse space on your own, as utilizing a 3PL (shorthand for a third-party logistic business to outsource elements of its distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services) also provides business owners with several additional benefits.
Benefits of 3PL Warehousing Services
Taking advantage of a 3PL for commercial storage takes a significant amount of logistical weight off of the business owners’ shoulders. Here are a few of the biggest advantages to outsourcing storage responsibilities to a third party:
- Save on Overhead. We put this one first for a reason — ultimately, the existing network, facilities, and management systems a 3PL has in place will cut down on costs and save the money and time that would otherwise be spent on locating and running your own space.
- Add Unique Expertise to Your Team. Warehousing seems like a simple concept, but there’s a lot to it that shouldn’t be left to trial and error. Growing businesses can benefit from an expert partner when it comes to storage, transport, proper documentation, and special regulations. Most importantly, the experts can help you anticipate (and steer clear of) potential pitfalls through years of experience in serving businesses and customers alike.
- Adaptability. Partnering with a 3PL allows your business flexibility. Whether seasonal sales are rolling in or an unexpected crisis halts sales activity for a period, none of your warehousing needs will be left unmet or wasted in times of feast or famine. And when it does come time to grow your enterprise, your warehousing partner will be prepared for expansion.
- Handle Special Circumstances with Ease. Need a cost-effective way to ship less than truckload or special attention paid to temperature, humidity, and light while in storage? Special circumstances are easy to simplify with 3PLs outfitted to manage storage and shipping of any kind ahead of time.
Warehouse Selection 101: Important Considerations for Selecting Warehousing Space and Services
The biggest advantages of 3PL warehousing stem from vast experience and bulletproof reliability — thus, choosing the best warehouse and supply chain services provider is critical for maximizing your business’ success. Consider this checklist of four major factors to guide your warehousing decision:
Warehouse Verticals — What Types of Inventory Are You Storing?
Recognize any specific requirements you’ll need for products beforehand. That could mean anything from simple square footage requirements to environmentally controlled facilities. Shopping for a 3PL to house your inventory will be much simpler if you can filter out facilities that won’t meet your needs.
Consider the Seasonality of Your Business (and Others)
The overall growth of e-commerce has given 3PL businesses plenty of experience with the Holiday boom. Maybe your products fly off of shelves through the entire holiday season, or perhaps your business features large SKUs with less impulse-buy potential. Think ahead to potential flexibility you may require of your warehousing space depending on past performance and your future projections — and remember, other businesses can impact available capacity as well.
Warehouse Location Matters
Unsurprisingly, the cheapest and most effective way to get products to your customers is to select warehousing as near as possible to their present location. While the capabilities of every business vary depending on size and geography, customers have grown to expect products in a hurry as shopping from home continues to become the norm.
You’ll want to locate warehouses outfitted with technology that provides transparency in every step of storing and delivering your products. Typically this means both EDI and software enabling continual visibility for shipments in transit. Being able to track orders in real time, manage order quantity and keep close tabs on the quality and state of your goods throughout the entire order fulfillment process will save you headaches in the long run.
Trusting your warehousing needs to a third-party logistics company can alleviate the logistical burden of product storage and management in a cost-effective way. Remember to seek out a 3PL with the capacity, reliability, and experience to support your growing business.
Interested in learning more about how the right warehousing solution can help elevate your business? Reach out to First Call Logistics for a quote today!