Warehousing is the process of storing physical goods in a warehouse before they are ready to be sold or distributed. It is an important part of the supply chain as it allows businesses to store mass-produced goods, ready to be shipped to customers efficiently.
Information like item quantity, location and date of arrival and dispatch are readily available to facility staff. Employing a warehousing service thus ensures that inventory is properly tracked, organized and accounted for at all times.
Types of Warehouses
1. Public warehouse
A public warehouse is a licensed business owned by either a corporation or an individual. Its main purpose is to provide storage services to other businesses or the general public.
Any legal business can make use of this facility’s massive amount of space to store their goods. In recent years, public warehouses have allowed many e-commerce businesses to flourish.
2. Private warehouse
These storage spaces are privately owned and used by big corporations and manufacturers who take charge of their own warehousing processes.
It may not make financial sense to purchase a private warehouse unless your business is well established and has a large stream of products that need to be produced or shipped monthly.
3. Bonded warehouse
Bonded warehouses licensed by the government to store imported dutiable goods and they are kept until the owners have made their customs duty payments.
There are a few types of bonded warehouses, either owned by the state or by an individual or business. They are often very well-guarded while goods are awaiting customs duty payment.
4. Cooperative warehouse
A cooperative warehouse is a facility owned by more than one organization, often storing similar types of inventory.
These businesses work closely together as they share a space, and can save costs by sharing the price of owning a warehouse. These storage spaces are thus a more accessible option for small businesses and operations that need the space.
5. Cold storage warehouse
Cold storage warehouses specialize in storing temperature-sensitive products like fresh meat, dairy and medical supplies.
They are similar to huge refrigerators that maintain ideal temperatures and optimal conditions like humidity and a low presence of microorganisms for stored products.
6. Smart warehouse
The smart warehouse has been gaining popularity over the past few years for its progressive, automated processes.
Inventory management is automated, and robots and drones carry out the packing, weighing, transportation and storage of raw materials. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows warehousing services to be more efficient and accurate.
7. Distribution center
Designed for efficiency, distribution centers are facilities that focus on quick shipment preparation, order fulfillment and distribution of goods.
Unlike typical warehouses, distribution centers place less focus on storing large quantities of products, and more on getting stock from merchant to consumer as fast as possible.
- Inventory management
Inventory management is when the warehouse tracks each individual item that flows in and out of it, including the item’s quantity, location within the facility and date of arrival.
Warehousing services offer large amounts of space to store products of various sizes, weights and quantities. Good capacity planning allows these spaces to be fully capitalized as items are stored as efficiently as possible.
- Picking and packing
Picking and packing is the process of retrieving, processing, packaging, loading and releasing items from inventory by warehouse staff. It is usually the final step before items are dispatched to their next destination.
Transportation, or shipping, is the process of moving a product from a client to a customer and updating all parties about the shipping status. Goods may be transported via trucks, sea freight, air freight, railcars and more.
- Returns processing
Warehousing services typically include returns processing, which involves receiving, inspecting and processing items that have been returned by customers. Ideally, this process is streamlined to be as smooth as it can be for the customer.
Cross-docking is when goods arrive at a facility and are almost immediately reloaded into outbound shipment vehicles (like trucks or railcars) with minimal or no storage time in between. This speeds up the supply chain and gets products from manufacturers to customers much faster.
Benefits of Warehousing
Warehousing is an important part of logistics and the supply chain as it bridges the gap between the time that a product is manufactured and the time that a customer buys it.
Here are some of its benefits:
Maximize production and earning potential
Warehouses give businesses a space to store their products so they do not need to limit their stock and earning potential because of limited storage space.
Fulfill orders efficiently
Warehousing allows businesses to reduce delivery times and shipping costs by storing their products in geographically strategic locations.
By sending out stock to facilities worldwide, the time taken for international shipping is greatly reduced. Cost is also reduced as the number of shipments that pass through customs is minimized.
Keeps goods safe
Warehousing ensures that stored goods are safe and less likely to be damaged, especially in the case of dangerous goods warehouses. Businesses can trust that their products will be handled by experts with a multitude of advanced storage equipment and technology.
Storing your goods in a warehouse offers protection against almost all risks as they will be insured against loss by fire, deterioration, theft and more.