If you’ve had an eCommerce business for a while, you are likely to find that it has grown beyond something you can do from your home or garage, and now you need to think about taking things up a level. Part of this will be setting up a dedicated warehouse area, something you will almost certainly not have done before.
If you are uncertain where to start, you should get professionals involved – especially where safety concerns are involved. Even if you take this approach, you’ll need to be clued up in some key areas.
Pick the right area
Finding alternative premises for a warehouse and distribution operation can be very difficult. You will need to find somewhere you can expand within so you don’t need to move again too soon. Still, at the same time, you don’t want to be paying out for space you aren’t using. One plan is to find a space where you can fit both warehouse and office staff and then relocate the offices as the warehouse area expands.
Racking and storage
This is one of the big changes from just storing stock in your garage or container. You will need to make sure what you get is fit for purpose and is erected correctly by people who know what they are doing. To ensure, you should get warehouse racking inspectors involved to keep tabs on what is happening or even advise you from the start about what you need.
Source the right equipment
Once you have a warehouse area, you’ll quickly find that to reach some of the top shelves or shift the heavy deliveries you might not have had before, you’ll need to invest in pallet trucks or even a forklift of some description. You can hire these at first or buy a used model elsewhere, but you will have to balance the pros and cons of this with buying new.
Getting the headcount right
If you are busy enough to need a warehouse, you are probably also going to need to find help. This will probably be part-time, so agency staff might not be the best way forward. Instead, you could reach out and find somebody who might already be older and experienced but is semi-retired and wants a few hours of work each week to stay active. You are also likely to find they are quite adaptable should you need extra help at short notice.
Tie up with couriers and delivery companies
Moving around greater amounts of stock will also mean that the delivery network you used before might no longer be up to the job. You will need to negotiate deals with bigger players, which can mean cheaper prices, but it is also likely to mean you are stuck with fixed pick-up times that you will have to work around and structure your packing schedule accordingly.
A few final thoughts
Setting up your first warehouse is a big deal; you shouldn’t do it alone. You should ensure you get the help you need, but also be aware that you need to find the right building, equipment, and people to work with you, as well as ensure the racking does the job you want and is completely safe for those using it.