Other Voices: Four things to keep in mind when acquiring a new warehouse

Considerations of space, staff and software could be critical to a growing business's success.

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Editor’s note: The following column by Jake Rheude, director of marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, is part of Modern’s Other Voices column, a series featuring ideas, opinions and insights from end-users, analysts, systems integrators and OEMs. Click here to learn about submitting a column for consideration.

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It’s a great sign when you’ve outgrown a small space or a small distributor. However, there are some core business elements to consider when you go about buying or building that new space. Here are the top four things to check on because they can save you, or end up costing you, a lot of money when you need it most.

1. Be smart about your space
Bigger isn’t always better, especially in a new warehouse. Sometimes the space you need doesn’t come from being larger; it comes from being smart about matching needs and layout. Focus on efficiency in your operations from the very start.

If your company is growing, you may need to expand. But, you don’t want something that’s so large it causes your staff to have to run significant lengths and pick in more waves than you can reasonably support with your team.

Look at your shelving options along with your size. You might be able to use technology, like shelves that slide together, to save space. It’s especially useful if you’ve got seasonal products that you don’t need access to every day of the week.

2. Don’t forget your staff
Do you have the labor you need already? Do you need to staff up? What’s the market like in your area?

Define your labor needs and your existing staff’s capabilities when planning your new warehouse. Work to understand the team you need to get deliveries out on time today and when you grow tomorrow. This might mean needing multiple shifts, which requires significant space for workers to keep personal belongings and park their cars.

When acquiring a new warehouse, you need to be able to properly stock it with quality workers, and that depends on the region where you build that warehouse.

3. Your business might change
How long has it been since you’ve created a new product line or shifted gears to target different markets? Did this impact your sales volumes or your storage needs?

Business will change, but you don’t know exactly how just yet. A warehouse can make this easier when you have a little extra space and when you know it can accommodate different options than what you’re running right now.

If your product needs have shifted, could you respond quickly? Ensure that your warehouse is easy to reconfigure so that you can bring your more popular items closer to your packing areas. When it’s simple to rearrange your warehouse, you can maintain top efficiency levels for when your sales team starts having different success rates.

4. Make sure your software is robust enough
The last thing that you’ll want to look at is the current software you’re running. If you have a warehouse management system (WMS) already, look for any limitations it may have. Or, if you’re just running an ERP that has basic inventory tools, test it to see if it can handle new growth.

Acquiring a new warehouse is a smart time to acquire new software too. You can pick something that fits your volume, your size, and your team. You might even be able to upgrade to a new tool like voice picking that can improve your efficiency levels and make your team happier.


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