Evolving technology has made a huge impact on manufacturing, retail, transportation, and yes, even warehousing. Determining the right storage facility for your business can be an unwinding-the-cassette-tape kind of challenge, but it’s a crucial decision that impacts countless facets of your operations, including raw material sourcing, inventory management, and on-time delivery.
What’s the latest on the warehousing front, and what does it mean for your search for the right storage facility? Here’s an inside look at warehousing solutions and management that are changing the way business takes place today.
Warehousing: How It’s Defined and How It’s Evolved
Warehousing and distribution centers are sometimes used in conversation interchangeably (but there are some key differences between the two!). Both are involved in storing, fulfilling, and shipping orders. The storage facilities of warehousing businesses were made for just that: safe, secure storage. Goods or inventory are ready to leave the storage facility whenever they are distributed, sold, or moving forward to the next stage in the supply chain.
Warehouses can be used as a storage facility to hold products until an e-commerce order is made and sent directly to the customer. They may also be used to keep products ready before brick-and-mortar stores are prepared to receive more product.
Technology has made warehousing more efficient and cost effective than ever before. There are many features of today’s storage facilities that make them so valuable, including:
- Inventory management systems: With the large number of goods that warehouses oversee, these supply chain partners have the ability to invest in a state-of-the-art warehouse management system (WMS) that can provide benefits like real-time inventory insights, customer access and valuable summary information.
- Integrations: Your tech stack can integrate with your warehousing partner. Seamless integrations with Amazon, Shopify, Walmart and many more ease the flow of the ordering and delivering processes.
- Innovation hub: You’ll know your warehousing partner is committed to evolving with the latest technology when they have an actual innovation hub to test and perfect the latest warehousing automation and technology.
Why Warehousing is More Than Just Storage
Yes, warehouses are made to store goods, but warehouses have the potential to offer so much more than a simple storage unit. A warehouse is a storage facility, sure — but equipped with processes and technology that are designed to help businesses run smoothly.
There are many perks of warehousing, including being able to send inventory and know it is placed properly for shipment, and outsourcing the shipping of products to their next destination.
Warehouse storage facilities are prepared to store inventory for extended periods of time. They are equipped with forklifts, shelves, containers and docks to facilitate moving inventory. Warehouse lease terms can be temporary or long term.
The benefits of warehousing include:
- Cost-effective storage solutions
- Timely inventory acceptance and delivery
- Efficient staff and equipment use
- Sufficient inventory stocked
- Space optimized and aisles clear
- Satisfied customers
For these reasons and many more, warehousing is much more than just a storage facility.
The Benefits of Warehouse Management
Warehouse management encompasses all the activities a warehousing business does to operate their facility and deliver to their clients. This means taking care of staff, equipment, inventory, safety, delivery relationships, and more. Warehouse management can help businesses:
- Store products securely
- Predict and manage product volume
- Maintain warehouse safety requirements, including temperature standards and cold chain storage
- Retain and train an expert warehouse staff
- Ensure compliance requirements are met
- Manage inventory as sales grow
- Perform warehouse audits
- Record shipments and exact documentation
Warehousing partners often have their own warehouse management system (WMS). This software enables storage facilities to save valuable time and remove many of the manual processes that no longer serve businesses.
At Smart Warehousing, we call this system SWIMS. It’s our information management system made to put control and visibility in your hands. This system works with EDI, API, FTP, e-commerce, and more.
Our WMS features helpful capabilities including anytime, 24/7 access to view your inventory, real-time alerts, transaction level updates, flexible integration solutions, and more.
What to Look for in Warehousing Solutions and Management Partners
Finding the right warehousing option for your business can be a piece of cake if you know what to look for. As you search for the right storage facility and warehousing partner, keep these things in mind:
- The perfect location. You’ll want a warehousing partner with an ideal location for your shipments. The answer lies in where your product’s ultimate destination is. Getting your products in a warehouse close to your customers ensures on-time delivery and perfect product condition.
- Nationwide warehouses. With a large network of warehouses, you’ll be able to ensure timely deliveries no matter where your customers live or which retail locations stock your products. The more your business grows, the more important this reach will be. Smart Warehousing is proud to offer more than 30 warehouses across the country — with over 12 million square feet of warehouse space in total — to meet your needs from coast to coast.
- One-stop-shop services. Warehousing partners who cover your supply chain from beginning to end can save your business valuable time. With omnichannel capabilities that can handle businesses from big to small, leaders can find an efficient, cost effective solution. Plus, a one-stop-shop solution can help you respond to any logistics challenges in a nimble and agile way.
- Seasonality. Demand changes during seasonal times can have a big impact on supply chain management. Finding a partner who can support your business through both the peak and the slow times can be a big help for operations teams.
- Cold chain capabilities. If your products need to be frozen or refrigerated, finding a warehousing solution with these cold chain capabilities is essential. Looking into a partner’s cold chain technology and track record for temperature sensitive products is key.
- Dependable transportation. Getting your products out of a warehouse is just as essential as getting them in. You’ll want to find a warehousing partner who’s committed to secure transportation services and maintains good relationships with delivery partners.
- Skill and experience level. Last but not least, you’ll want to ensure that your warehousing partner has their head in the game. With years under their belt accumulating expertise and relationships, you’ll have the best partner possible. Looking into inventory accuracy and on-time delivery rates can also give you good insight into a warehouse's capabilities.
The Smart Warehousing Solution
Ready to streamline your supply chain? We can take care of your supply chain from beginning to end at Smart Warehousing. The Smart Warehousing difference is an eye for technology that leads to best-in-class automation and efficiency.
Looking for omnichannel fulfillment that can handle your unique cold chain, retail or e-commerce needs? We’ve got your back. We’re not just a warehouse or just a storage center. We’re a nation-wide network of end-to-end supply chain services.
We’ve served more than 600 companies in over 20 years of service. How can Smart Warehousing meet your warehousing and supply chain needs? Click here to learn more.