How Do You Choose a Good Warehouse for Your E-Commerce Business?

Switching from garage storage to getting your products organized in a warehouse can change the way your business runs. E-commerce warehouse storage saves time, effort, and money, while providing peace of mind.

This article highlights the key benefits of working with a warehouse and details how you can find the right one for your business.

What Makes a Good Warehouse for E-Commerce?

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Two non-negotiable items that an e-commerce warehouse must provide are security and storage space. The combination of both ensures that your product is in good hands:

1. Security 

A good warehouse is one where you know that your products are safe. Warehouses holding expensive inventory are often the target of theft, making the presence of a strong security system an important piece of the overall warehouse infrastructure.

An e-commerce warehouse management system that has surveillance cameras, safety alarms, and trained security staff in fulfillment centers, can lower the chances of your products getting stolen.

2. Storage Space 

Sufficient storage space is important when it comes to warehouses. Most e-commerce businesses switch to distribution centers due to insufficient storage spaces at their current locations (basement, garage, etc.).

Smart warehouses shelve inventory strategically, ensure there’s no clutter of goods, and that organization and movement process are efficient. These factors make tracking customer orders and inventory levels much easier for the supply chain firm.

Storage for perishable items—such as butter, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and bread—must also be available if required. Facilities with cold storage and moisture resistance should be present in the distribution center to keep these items fresh.

A research paper by the European Journal of Operational Research defines an optimal warehouse storage like this (more on technology later on):

“Traditional picker-to-parts warehouses are often ill-suited for these prerequisites so that automated warehousing systems (e.g., automated picking workstations, robots, and AGV-assisted order picking systems) are applied, and organizational adaptions (e.g., mixed-shelves storage, dynamic order processing, and batching, zoning and sorting systems) are made in this branch of industry.” [efn_note] Nils Boysen, René de Koster, Felix Weidinger, Warehousing in the e-commerce era: A survey, European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 277, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 396-411, ISSN 0377-2217, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2018.08.023.[/efn_note]

How Do You Choose a Good Warehouse for E-Commerce?

There are additional factors that should play into the selection process:

1. Location

When selecting a warehouse, you want to ensure that your core customer base is not far from it. You can do this by checking the transportation logistics with the warehouse. A great location keeps costs low and ensures faster deliveries.

2. Access

It should be easy to access the warehouse, especially if your goods have special requirements. If your products require exporting and importing, you want your warehouse to be close to a port. You also need to check for:

  • Properly built roads
  • Nature of traffic
  • Highway interconnectivity

Congested roads and inaccessible areas can slow down deliveries, which can affect the overall supply chain processes.

3. Emergency Protocol

You don’t want your goods to get damaged by heat, animals, insects, rainwater, and fire. For the safety of your products, be sure that the warehouse you’re working with has fire extinguishers, air conditioning, and emergency protocols to keep the items safe.

What E-Commerce Platforms Can Be Accommodated by a Warehouse?

choosing a location

Most warehouses can accommodate all e-commerce platforms. These include but are not limited to:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Wix
  • WordPress
  • PinnacleCartF
  • Shift4Shop
  • BigCommerce

Working with a warehouse can be beneficial if you sell on multiple platforms (e.g., Shopify, Six, WooCommerce) or just a single platform alone. Warehousing allows you to keep all inventory in one place where employees can manage shipments.

If you’d like to speak with an expert about your situation, feel free to get in touch with the MacMillan Supply Chain Group at 416-941-2759 or email us here.

What Do You Have to Look For When Choosing a Warehouse for E-Commerce?

Other factors you might want to look out for include:

1. Properly Trained Staff 

Employees play an important part in the supply chain because they are the ones handling everything.

From processing to organizing and packing, supply chain workers take over tasks that are otherwise time-consuming for business owners. This is especially true if you run a small business.

The number of employees affects warehouse efficiency as well. Having more employees ensures that background processes are running smoothly. The staff needs to be well trained in handling goods while keeping accidents and mistakes to a minimum.

2. Technology

For warehouse managers, it’s important to stay up to date with warehouse software and technology. Not only can technology make inventory tracking easier (e.g., drones, electronic data exchange, and pick-by-visions systems), but they can also improve many other warehouse processes.

Due to recent unpredictable buying patterns, supply chain firms are facing difficulty in keeping processes smooth. Supply chain issues are not expected to subside in coming years, causing supply chain firms to increasingly rely on technology to tackle challenges.

3. Types of Warehouses

There are different kinds of warehouses to accommodate e-commerce businesses:

  • Private Warehouse: These are usually owned by larger businesses and are more expensive than public warehouses. That’s because they are built with specific requirements for storing goods.
  • Public Warehouse: Public warehouses are government-owned buildings rented out to small businesses.
  • Consolidated Warehouse: These warehouses collect goods from multiple suppliers. The products are delivered to the same city and the costs are low.
  • Smart Warehouse: Smart warehouses are the most efficient because they make use of AI to ensure best practices, better security, and excellent productivity.

If you have an e-commerce store and are thinking about switching to a warehouse, the MacMillan Supply Chain Group is here to help. Our trained staff can handle your goods and storage them safely.

Working with us will not only make things easier for you, but it will also ensure that your business runs more efficiently. For further information, you can call us  at 416-941-2759 or email us here.

MacMillan Supply Chain Group Elevate Your Logistics Experience

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Meet the Author:

Kate

Kate

Kate Nowak isn't your typical author. With a career that's as diverse as the landscapes she's traversed, Kate embodies the spirit of the Canadian supply chain and transportation industry. Her passion for global trade burns brightly, fueled by firsthand experience across every facet of the logistics world.
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