Warehousing operations are an integral part in the logistics and supply chain operations. It can have a notable impact on the business, including customer satisfaction; choosing the right warehousing partner, thus plays a crucial role.
Logistics and supply chain practices have evolved over time, so have the warehousing practices – with several providers specializing in a particular sector. Warehousing solutions have become technologically advanced with capabilities to handling not just picking and packing within the warehouse facility, but packing from manufacturers to delivering to the end customers. It is of utmost importance that you choose your warehousing solutions provider or partner carefully.
First Things First – What is Warehousing?
The process of storing goods in a facility from where they are further distributed or sent to the end customer is known as warehousing. The building in which these goods, inventory as we like to call it, are brought in, stored, tracked and distributed are warehouses.
Warehousing includes a warehouse facility, staff, machines and a backend technology that facilitates the businesses to maintain a track of their inventory and orders. In the scenario of an e-commerce company, goods are stored in the warehouse, once the order is received, the goods are picked, packed and shipped to the end customer. Whereas, in case of a regular retail, goods are stored in the warehouses and distributed to the retail store when required.
New businesses usually start by storing goods in their own real estate, in spaces like garage, godown, store rooms, small apartment, etc. It is only after they outgrow this little space and face order management issues, they look at establishing their own warehousing and fulfillment or turn to a warehousing partner, a 3PL company like ProConnect Integrated Logistics to manage their inventory.
Outsourcing Storage and Fulfillment to a Warehousing Partner
Once you have established popularity of your products, and have outgrown your current real estate, it is time to look for bigger storage space and better inventory management. Warehousing involves big capital and operation expenditure and expertise, therefore many businesses prefer to outsource this part. There are numerous benefits of outsourcing warehousing and distribution to a third party logistics company, read about them here.
Top Tips to Consider When Choosing a Warehousing Partner
If you have decided to go ahead and outsource the inventory management and distribution to an external party, then consider checking out the following top tips:
Based on your product type, you should also consider value added services that these partners have to offer:
- Kitting and assembling of products
- Packaging and labeling
- Inventory tracking and reporting
- Order fulfillment and distribution
Number of SKUs: Before even considering outsourcing your warehousing operations, it is important you list your specific needs and requirements. Example:
- What kind of storage do you require? Shelves, racks, open yard, cold storage
- How many SKUs would you require to store at a time?
- How much storage space would that take up?
- Can you store your products with other products?
SKUs are used for inventory management, to estimate the storage charges and the space required. Warehousing companies quote you based on SKUs, CBM space for each bin, shelf or pallet. Example, if you are into selling apparel, you will require separate storage space based on apparel size (XS, S, M, L, XL), apparel color, apparel type, and their packaging.
Location: Warehouse location plays an important role in the entire supply chain. The location has an impact on how fast your goods can reach your customer from its manufacturing facility. Consider a location that is close to major air ports or sea ports, major transportation junctions and at the same time within close proximity to your target customers.
- If yours is an established company with huge market reach, then considering a warehouse that is able to cater to the high demands and handle your product efficiently.
- If you are a startup or s SME, consider choosing a warehousing facility in close proximity to your target market.
- If your target market / customers are geographically scattered, then opting for a centrally-located facility should be a good idea.
Technology: Another major reason for outsourcing your warehousing operations to a 3PL is the technology and software they possess, which require huge investment in terms of cost, resources and time. Your warehousing partner should have a WMS (warehouse management system) that will help you keep a track of your inventory in real time, its movement and provide you with a full report that can help you make business decisions.
A good WMS software enable you to keep a pulse on your inventory management and warehousing operations. It automates the process of order fulfillment. When an order has been placed by your customer, it is automatically routed to your warehouse, where it is picked, packed, labelled and shipped.
Seasonal Needs: It is important to consider the seasonal needs of your products. If your product sales are impacted by a particular season, market fluctuation or even yearly sale season, the warehouse facility should be able to handle it. External warehousing facilities usually have the capability to handle more goods during the peak season and lesser during the dull season. This would depend on your arrangement with the warehousing company. You can either look for public warehouses when your products are of seasonal nature: eg – winterwear, or contract warehouses when your product demands fluctuate.
Safety Measures: While this is an obvious point, we can’t emphasize more on the need of a warehousing facility having all the safety measures in place. Trained staff, security cameras, fire alarms, sprinklers, security personnel, etc. Consider going through all the security measures a company has to offer before making a choice.
ProConnect Integrated Logistics As Your Warehousing Partner
Choosing the right warehousing partner is critical to your business and for customer satisfaction. ProConnect Integrated Logistics has a wide range of tech-enabled warehouses in UAE and Saudi Arabia that are strategically located near important airports and sea ports and can cover a wide range of the regions. We cater to storage needs of industries like IT, electronics, apparel, retail, spare parts, construction, manufacturing, FMCG, FMCD and more. For your storage and distribution enquiries, get quote.
If I were to handle a warehouse, I would make sure to invest in software that will be able to manage the space better and practically. Thank you for sharing here that it will be smarter to hire trained staff. I also agree with you that fire alarms must be installed too.