Many businesses, especially smaller ones, and contractors do not have enough space at their own premises to store and send out their products, and so need to look for external warehousing companies to provide this service.
There can be an awful lot to take into consideration when choosing a warehouse, as it may be one of your more significant expenses. Here, we look at a few things that you need to think about before you sign a contract with a warehouse.
1) They have space that is appropriate for your business needs
This, of course, is an absolute basic necessity. There is no point in spending what a probably a considerable amount of money on a space that is not fit for purpose is. First of all: does it have enough space? Can you fit all of your products there with space for any potential overfill?
Make sure it is not too big for you, as empty, wasted space is not particularly cost-effective for either you or the warehousing. You also need to think about the future and any possible plans for expansion.
Changing warehouses, later on, can be difficult, time-consuming and costly. If you decide to increase the number of products that you store there, are they able to facilitate that?
It isn’t just the space that is important, but whether the environment is correct. Do you need somewhere that is temperature controlled, or need low lighting?
Are you storing chemicals or electrical items that require particular care and attention? Discuss this with the warehouse managers beforehand and find out what happens if there is a power outage.
2 ) Location
Where your warehouse is should be one of your most fundamental concerns. Its location will have a massive impact on the efficiency and ease with which your products can be stored and transported.
Make sure that is easy to access and find for pickup and delivery drivers and is near to excellent transport routes such as shipping ports, railways and/or motorways. It is also vital to check whether other people have access to the facility and whether there will be timing and access conflicts.
If you are a smaller business, you might want to consider a warehouse that is close to your primary customers or your company headquarters. If you are a more substantial company, perhaps working on a national scale, find a location that will make regional demand simple to manage.
You also need to take into consideration future growth and expansion of the company, so bear both your short-term and long-term needs.
2) They understand your products
This goes hand in hand with the above. If you are selling fragile items, are they aware of the need to be careful with the way they handle and package them?
If it is food or healthcare related products, are they aware of the conditions they need to be stored in, and the importance of checking for use by dates and rotating products?
3) Their shipping process is efficient and straightforward
If you are using them to ship out and keep an inventory of your products, make sure that their systems and processes are both simple and efficient.
If you specify to your customers a wait time, you need to make sure that your warehousing company is fulfilling these; otherwise, you are going to slow down supply chains and potentially cost your business its reputation.
Make sure that they have enough staff on hand to properly handle and package your products before they are sent out, and that if the stock is running low, they have a process in place for letting you or your suppliers know so that you can plan accurately for any future customer demands.
As we have mentioned before, it is likely to be one of your more significant business expenses, so it is vital that the warehouse offers excellent value for money. Before you settle on a site, make sure that you have visited several different places to see what they provide for the same price.
Out of town warehouses are often considerably cheaper but are usually more difficult to get to, so you need to weight up the pros and cons. It is also important to know what is covered in the price so that you are not stung with extra fees later on for things such as insurance or parking.
When we are looking for a service, we quite often seek out independent reviews and check the reputation of the business we are considering parting money with, and this should be no exception. If you are in any industry-specific groups on social media, ask around in there and see where other people recommend.
Check reviews on Google and Yel, bearing in mind that people don’t often leave good reviews, but bad service will be all over the internet! Check their reputation on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well, as the company has the chance to address complaints on there.
One of your main concerns when looking for a warehouse should be how safe your products are, particularly if the space is accessible to others. Check what sort of security they offer – do they have CCTV or guards monitoring the area? Discuss their protocols for things such as fires or floods, and what steps they will take to protect your goods.
The perfect warehouse for your business will be determined by a broad range of factors, all of which should be taken into account when choosing one.
Make sure you visit all of the potential facilities and make sure that whoever provides you with your space is good at communicating with you when it comes to any issues and how they will meet your needs.
Outsourcing your warehousing and fulfilment needs to someone else means that while someone else is dealing with the logistics of shipping your products out to your customers, you can focus on the important things: building and growing your business.