If you’re looking to grow in 2016, have new products in mind to sell, or wish to improve the agility of your shipping operation, it might be time to consider your next warehouse. If you’re a small or regional business, you might be used to keeping the warehouse close to the retail store, or close to where you’re headquartered. But as you grow and think nationally—or even globally—here are some tips to consider when expanding your warehouse network.
Identify the import needs
When it comes to picking real estate, even a new warehouse, the old saying still applies: Location, location, location!
While we may all put a lot of thought into picking a warehouse location, we may also gloss over some of the important things that make a warehouse location most effective. Depending on what your business is, and what you intend to do with the new space, the location should exist relative to some important factors, such as where your goods are coming from.
For example, are you primarily importing from overseas, or do you deal in locally sourced goods? Are you near a major highway that accesses the port, airport, factory, or farm your goods come from? Do you need a lot of space, or proximity to your point of arrival? All of these questions speak to the kind of business you operate, as well as where your warehouses are best placed. Figuring out where your goods are coming from before being shipped from your warehouse is the important first half of this equation.
Synchronize with retail needs
The second and obvious question is how your growing warehouse network will enhance your retail needs. This is more than just picking warehouses that work well with your retail stores. Of course, it’s important to consider how your retail stores will benefit from a growing warehouse network, or how accessible you want these warehouses to be for retail managers or even your own executive staff.
However, if your online shopping presence has grown, then your warehouse network must be optimized to improve online shipping agility. If you’re primarily located on the west coast, would an east coast warehouse speed up delivery times, or reduce your last-mile shipping costs? These are important questions to weigh against other factors influencing your future warehouse location.
Optimize your logistics
There are other factors to consider in the warehouse location process too. If you deal with product manufacturing, production, or bundling in your warehouse, then you must consider how these steps impact how you store your raw and finished goods. Do you want warehouses dedicated to moving goods between different warehouses? Do you want specialized warehouses for specific product types, or should each warehouse offer the same goods in different regions to maximize shipping speeds.
Another question to ask is whether a new warehouse will hurt your existing logistics. Are you using a service such as UPS or FedEx when it would be cheaper to hire a logistics company to ship goods between warehouses? If you have depended on local warehouses in the past, how will more distant, regional warehouses impact your landed costs? Consider every aspect of how your logistics will change after launching a new warehouse. There are always pros and cons to consider.
Get the right software
All of these physical and logistical factors impact your warehouse network, but one thing we’ve yet to talk about is how software also impacts your warehouses. No warehouse network is complete without the right inventory management software to deal with goods moving internally before finally shipping to the customer.
If your online business is growing, then the right inventory management software can speed up that shipping process, and make warehouses more independent without shipping support from retail stores and other venues. You can even strategize each location to maximize speed and minimize landed costs.
All of this is possible with the right inventory management software, such as QStock Inventory. Our software offers a host of features to meet your specific logistical needs. Contact us to learn more about how QStock Inventory can be a good fit for your business.