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Remember back in the early days of the internet, how everyone would predict that one day we’d even be doing our grocery shopping online? Remember how silly we all thought that sounded?

Silly or not, those days are here, and they’ve been here for some time. Online grocery shopping has taken many forms, from its humble beginnings as a way to slowly transport frozen food and goods that can be kept in dry storage from one part of the country to another, to the multi-million-dollar juggernaut it is now.

Most online grocery shopping takes the form of phone apps and programs like Shipt, who send someone out on your behalf to pick up groceries from a local supermarket and deliver them to your home (not unlike sending Doordash to your favorite restaurant), but these days more and more businesses are turning to selling groceries online the way they sell other goods. Massive retailers like Amazon and Target have begun ramping up the amount of groceries they sell through their online portals right alongside things like clothing and electronics, and the business shows no signs of slowing down.

So what does this mean for your warehouse? As retailers focus more on traditional, direct-to-consumer online sales for groceries (as opposed to the Shipt model of buying them locally from retailers), they’re all going to need more cold storage.

A recent report from real estate management company CBRE shows that cold storage warehouse sales volume has increased from about $25 million in 2009 to well over $150 million by the end of 2018, with no signs of it slowing down in the meantime. Thanks to the shipping methods commonly employed by online ecommerce businesses like Amazon, cold storage warehousing space is in high demand these days, and warehouses all over America are hoping to get in on the action.

This could include your warehouse as well! If you have the capacity to offer cold storage space to a larger retailer that needs to serve your geographic area, you could quickly find yourself in demand to start storing and shipping groceries to hungry customers.

So…is your warehouse ready to offer cold storage? Ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Do you have the space? Are you already set up for cold storage, or do you have the room to install a refrigerated storage area? This could be a very expensive proposition and may require a lot of careful thought and planning before it becomes financially viable.
  • Do you have the storage equipment? Cold storage (particularly for food) requires specialized equipment, such as rust proof shelving and food storage shelving to keep products safely stored as per federal guidelines. Make sure your storage solutions can safely and comfortably contain a wide range of food products before committing to a cold storage operation.
  • Do you have the staff? Depending on the state, local, and federal regulations surrounding food handling where you live, your team may need additional certifications above and beyond the typical warehousing safety certificates to handle food properly. Review your local guidelines to determine what sort of qualifications your team might need to properly handle food and similar goods for your new cold storage facilities.

If you can answer these questions, you just might be part of the cold storage boom in the future.

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