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The warehousing industry is just as prone to trends, changes, and buzzwords as anything else, and one big term has already emerged for 2020: flexible warehousing.

More than just a way to describe versatility in product storage, flexible warehousing is a form of warehouse storage & shipping that has grown in response to changes in ecommerce. Typically, flexible warehousing is defined as the usage of third-party warehouse facilities in an “on-demand” fashion. This usually means that a retailer only pays to use the warehouse space on an as-needed basis, generally for product backstock or better geographic placement of more popular items for reduced shipping times. Most of the time this service just involves product storage, but can be expanded to include transportation and shipping options as well depending on the capabilities of the warehouses involved.

The need for flexible warehousing has seen a sharp increase in recent years, and out of all the contributing factors, the need for convenient warehousing due to ecommerce shipping demands has been chief among them. Vendors and retailers have been seeing a sharp uptick in need for ‘near-urban’ warehousing, or warehouses near large population centers that produce a large volume of orders, and flexible warehousing has arisen to fulfill that need by allowing warehouses with optimal locations to rent out some of their unused space to help get items to their destination more quickly.

This increased demand means retailers need more warehouses – or at least parts of warehouses – than ever before. But can your warehouse offer flexible warehousing to potential clients? Here’s a few questions to ask of your warehouse:

  • Do you have the room to spare? Flexible warehousing requires a decent size investment to make sure you have the room to store whatever goods the vendor may need of you. If you have enough space in your warehouse to monetize it may be worth the effort, but you’ll need to make sure your potential clients are aware of exactly how much room they have to work with.
  • Do you have the storage tools at hand? Above and beyond the space requirements, most vendors will be much happier to work with you if you can provide your own warehouse storage options that can meet a variety of product needs. If you have wire shelving, pallet racks, or clip shelving that can be provided to your clients to use, you may be able to work out a better deal and get more potential tenants for your space.
  • Can you handle a variety of different products? A quick way to get an advantage over anyone else competing for a near-urban warehousing operation is to be able to handle a wide variety of products as needed. Do you have options for medical shelving to store delicate pharmaceuticals, or commercial food shelving for storing consumables or perishables? This will make your warehouse more attractive to a range of clients, and can help you store their goods even more safely.

So long as you have the space and the shelves to spare, you may be able to become a valued flexible warehousing provider for the ecommerce future to come.

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