5 Surprises When Starting Your Own Warehouse

empty warehouse

You’ve signed the lease, but your work has just begun.  Here is a list of some of the surprising (and critical) things you need to think about when launching a new warehouse:

  1. Hiring a team.  Will you need a dedicated Operations Manager or will you oversee the fulfillment yourself?  This is not something that can be done remotely.  How many people will you need to hire to work in the facility?  Should you hire permanent associates or utilize a temporary staffing agency?  How reliable are your order forecasts?
  2. Leasing forklifts and equipment.  Directly related to #1, but you need equipment to run the facility.  How many forklifts you need is tied to how many people will be operating in your building.  Once you decide on your vehicles, you can work out a separate vehicle leasing agreement with a material handling company.
  3. Finding a supplier for shipping materials, tape, and dunnage.  Who is going to supply the paper or air pillows that go into the shipping box to your customer?  How much inventory should you hold?  Without shipping supplies, you can’t ship orders.  Believe it or not, many early companies have near shut-down moments when they realize they are out of packing tape or boxes.
  4. Removing Trash.  Warehouses, especially those fulfilling ecommerce orders, go through a lot of cardboard.  Suppliers often ship product in full cases and you often ship just a few units to each of your customers.  As a result, there are a lot of cardboard boxes that need to be recycled in a warehouse.  Often companies will pay you for the cardboard, but the rates vary depending on whether you compact or bale the cardboard.  Balers and compacters have different upfront prices, so you need to run an analysis to see what works best.
  5. Choosing an inventory management software.  Now that you have a facility, you will need to choose a warehouse management software to tell you where in the building your goods are stored and to track inventory when you receive it or ship it on customer orders.  This is a big decision, so plan ahead – some of the more complex enterprise software will take 6+ months to install and to train.  

These might seem like small decisions, but are all critical when running your operation.  

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