For the last few years, the e-commerce industry has been enjoying a steady rise in popularity. Even though you won’t need a traditional commercial space to sell your products, you will still need a way to safely store your inventory until the time that it is shipped. Setting up your very own fulfillment center will need a reasonable degree of planning and commitment. Having a fully-functional e-commerce warehouse can optimize your business and increase sales.
In almost every type of retail business, timeliness in delivering products while being accurate with the information given is critical in affecting customer satisfaction. If you’re going to be shipping and distributing products to different parts of your country or worldwide, warehousing constitutes an essential part of any business plan.
What Factors Should You Consider?
Efficiently storing products and keeping them in a pristine condition can significantly affect user reviews and feedback.
While you won’t necessarily need years of experience in business management and logistics, renting a warehouse is easier said than done. There are a variety of different factors that need to be weighed in.
- Square footage
- Learning from mistakes
We’ll be discussing each one of the factors in detail. Properly optimizing your warehouse can prevent any legal entanglements and future issues that might arise.
The Space of Your Warehouse
First and foremost, it’s essential to take a step back and ask yourself, “How much space do I need for my warehouse?” It might seem easier to just eyeball a good warehouse-size without putting too much time considering measurements. Still, you’ll need to calculate the number of inventory that you have. One common practice is calculating your cartons and multiplying it with the dimensions of your average carton.
Even if this exceeds the number of warehouse footprint that’s needed, your storage space should be calculated through cubic feet. Incorporating the height into the equation can help optimize your warehouse for space.
It’s also important to note that you have to take into account that your warehouses will also need to house several activities such as packaging, shipping, and equipment for storage. As such, you’ll need to have a reasonable amount of space for receiving, storage, forwarding, shipping, and even stock that’s a “liability.”
Equipment for Storage
The equipment that you will be used to maintain the quality of your inventory will depend on the products you’re storing. Most e-commerce warehouses will always have the same goal in mind:
- Maximizing space
- Efficient and responsive flow
- Transparent visibility on all inventory even in the process of delivering
When it comes to storage, though, you will need to focus on the following functions:
- Materials for handling equipment — This is a broad term that encompasses unit loading equipment such as forklifts, storage equipment like cryogenic tanks, and equipment for positioning everything in place.
- Shipping — Labeling, barcoding, assembling, then packaging will help prepare the parcel for the shipping process.
If you’re storing volatile materials that need to be held in low temperatures, it’s recommended that you get cryogenic tanks. When your tanks need to be maintained in pristine conditions, you must get industrial tank painting services to ensure that your tanks meet safety and health compliance.
If you’re not too keen on having a manual workforce that you’ll need to pay every month, automation can help improve your warehouse’s efficiency while keeping expenses at a minimum. E-commerce has been automated for the most part; as soon as customers decide to buy something, the purchasing process shouldn’t have that much a human interaction.
When automating your warehouse, this does not necessarily mean that all equipment should be automated and that you have to replace your manual workforce completely. Nonetheless, automating some aspects, such as the shipping and packaging phase, can make tasks more manageable.
One known way of automation in the e-commerce industry is by barcoding equipment. Categorizing equipment will help identify specific equipment and features while also helping track parcels.
Lastly, there’s no such thing as a perfect business, especially in the e-commerce industry. There’s bound to be mistakes and issues while you’re in place. Even if your business plan starts well, things can change in an instant. Therefore, it’s essential to incorporate new products, processes, business models, and technologies in the mix. Innovations are invented each year, and having an edge will increase sales.
Overall, running an e-commerce warehouse is, in a sense, quite similar to running a traditional retail store and storage facility. Although, you might need to get creative with how you handle your inventory and products.