Blue Transport truck docking at warehouse

 

In the world of warehousing, there are a lot of factors that can impact the end consumer along the way.

Item costs, manufacturing time, shipping options—there’s a lot of small factors that can begin to pile up and affect the consumer’s experience purchasing from your warehouse. One of the biggest ones, though, and one that maybe doesn’t get the attention it deserves, is the location of your warehouse.

 

Back in the old days, it wasn’t as much of a problem. People were more accustomed to local warehouses handling orders, and waiting a long time if they weren’t close enough to the warehouse (and that’s if the warehouse would ship to your region at all).

These days, however, that’s not as much of the case. The rise of ecommerce and increases in shipping speed have led most customers to expect faster shipping and service from nearly anywhere in the country, no matter where the item is coming from.

This is a double-edged sword—it means that online sales and direct-to-consumer warehousing has gone up sharply, but it also means that there’s a lot more location-based factors that can come into play during the customer experience:

 

Shipping speed: The most obvious thing many consumers are concerned about these days is the time their order will take to get to them. In a world where items can get to customers within 2 days, shipping speed can be the one thing that causes your customers to look elsewhere, even if your prices are competitive (or even preferable). If your warehouse is trying to serve customers throughout the country, the time it takes to ship or even process an item (that is, to get it from your warehouse shelves to an area where it can be prepared for shipment) can start to weigh down the time it takes to ship items across the country.

There’s a few solutions to this. Obviously, not everyone can have multiple warehouse locations to get to certain parts of the country faster, but drop-shipping from another trusted vendor can help you bridge that gap and get products to customers faster. This might increase the cost of shipping overall but in most cases the customers don’t mind paying a little extra to get their items quicker.

 

Distance to manufacturer: In a lot of cases, the overall customer experience can be impacted by how long it takes you to receive the items in the first place. In today’s economic climate, a lot of the items stored and distributed by warehouses are initially manufactured overseas. While that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, we’ve all surely run into issues with getting items sent in a timely fashion from Asia or Europe, and this can start to affect the time it takes to get your product to your customers. When possible, see if you can establish a relationship with a middleman vendor, closer to your geographic area, that can do the legwork for sourcing and receiving goods from overseas. This can cut down on lead time and give you a more accurate delivery window for customers.

 

Overall cost of goods: Similarly, the location of your manufacturers and vendors can cause the price of goods to go up. Profit margins are constantly affected by factors such as tariffs, import fees, shipping charges (including fuel, storage, and the like), and the rising cost of materials. The length of time it takes for you to receive your items may start to affect your potential markup, and that can start cutting into the savings you can pass along to the consumer.

Even things like sales tax can be affected by your location. Certain states will charge sales tax on items sold and shipped to other states, while others will not, and if these states fall within your service area, your listed prices can become inconsistent between different customers in different locations.

 

These are the biggest impacts your warehouse can encounter when trying to serve customers of different areas—but by keeping them in mind you can plan ahead for these issues and provide the best customer service possible.

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