For many businesses, the idea of running an entire warehouse on their own is a bit…daunting.

Maybe you’re a small business that’s just starting up and you don’t need that much storage space, maybe your operations are spread out enough to need a more decentralized warehouse solution, or maybe you just plain old don’t want the headache of managing a huge warehouse space.

In that case, public warehousing is always an option. Public warehouses are larger storage spaces cordoned off into sections and made available to the public (ie you) for temporary or long-term storage of inventory items. If this is starting to sound like a good solution to your inventory management issues but you don’t know where to start, here’s a few things to ask and keep an eye out for when looking into public spaces:

 

Analyze the location of the warehouse: Warehousing, as an industry, thrives on proper location, and this can have a huge impact on your business operations. When looking into public warehouses, take the time to review the area the warehouse is located in and see what effect it could have on your day-to-day: is it in an area you serve? If so, how many orders do you typically get from that area? Will it be easy for your vendors and distributors to get products to your warehouse, or will it cause shipping costs to go up when products are en route? Map out your location carefully and limit your search to warehouses in an area you can easily service.

 

Figure out what kind of equipment you’ll need: Depending on the warehouse itself, you may or may not need to bring in your own warehouse storage equipment to get your goods stored. Certain public warehouses furnish their own storage solutions like pallet racks and steel shelving but many will require you to bring your own. Above and beyond that, you may need to provide your own custom storage solutions for inventory as needed (for irregularly sized items or huge shipments), even if the warehouse provided them already.

 

Plan a move-in schedule: Many public warehouses have set move-in schedules based on availability, how much you have to take with you, and so on. Before committing to a new warehouse, look into their current availability and open dates and coordinate with the rest of your shipments and deliveries to ensure a smooth transition (and to make sure nothing gets sent to your old address by mistake).

 

Prepare for the future: Finally, a common mistake among anyone moving into a public warehouse is to be too short-sighted when it comes to expansion needs. While the need may not arise for a long time (if ever), it’s important to keep an eye on your ability to grow as your business expands. Talk to your current warehouse and see if they have larger facilities open, or the ability to expand your current space, as this will prove more time-effective than having to move into a completely different warehouse down the road.

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