Before the 21st century, warehouses were considered separate from retail businesses and had nothing to do with their sales. But with the rise in eCommerce businesses in the last few decades, warehousing has become a significant part of retail businesses.
Retail warehouses are nothing but massive warehouses built in the outskirts of cities and have tens of thousands of square meters of floor storage space. The idea is to have a centralized system and space for your retail business to cut your inventory management and distribution costs.
Retail Warehousing and its Evolution Over the Years
As eCommerce boomed over the years, the need for retail warehousing has increased too. If you are a growing or established business, renting out a warehousing space or partnering with a 3PL fulfillment partner with multiple warehouse locations is always better.
Retail warehouses have evolved over the years:
- The first-generation ones were industrial units that were converted to storage spaces
- The second-generation ones were built as purpose-oriented and single standing units
- The third generations ones were multi-unit retail parks
- The fourth-generation ones are customizable retail parks to fit your business needs
There are three areas where the changes in warehouses are reflected over the years. These include:
- Efficient storage systems and shelves: Rather than just stocking up new products on the first shelves and moving the old ones to the back, with the recent technological advancements, each product is categorized and shelved.
- Inventory tracking systems: Manually tracking the inventory is a messy business. With an inventory management system, all you have to do is scan a barcode, and every detail of that product is right in front of you.
- Efficient supply chain management: With the right kind of training in inventory and supply chain management, the staff can forecast the demand well and maintain an efficient inventory.
Advantages of Retail Warehousing
If you plan to ride the eCommerce revolution to your advantage and expand your business, retail warehousing must be one of your must-have strategies. So what does having retail warehouses do to your eCommerce business? Let’s find out.
Let’s be honest—having your own warehouse sounds fancy and can work initially, but when you are a growing business or a business with a global customer base, it’s increasingly difficult to own and manage your own warehouses and fulfillment centers. When renting out retail warehousing spaces, you can use them as a blank canvas and customize them to suit your business needs. Unlike traditional warehousing strategies, you cannot randomly store products on a first-procured basis. When you partner with a 3PL fulfillment center or rent out warehouse spaces, your products will be stored, recorded, and maintained in an organized manner with the SKUs mentioned correctly to reduce order fulfillment time and damages.
Organized and Hassle-Free Order Fulfillment
Retail warehouses are your best bet whether you want local, regional, or international fulfillment centers to reach your customers faster. They store your products and pick, pack and ship them to your customers seamlessly. Even if you have a surge in orders during particular seasons, you don’t have to worry about making efficient and fast deliveries when you have a retail warehousing partner.
Efficient Supply Chain Management
Retail warehouses are usually just large buildings with a single level. They often have roof space compatible with most industrial standards, dock doors, and parking to fit all your eCommerce needs. This will also help you to beat the competition and improve customer relations.
Growing eCommerce Warehousing Challenges and Solutions
Damages and Returns
Sure, as customers, we all want a faster delivery for our orders. But in most cases, a quicker delivery can also lead to damages and returns. When you are a small eCommerce business, returns can be dealt with relatively efficiently. But damages can cause a huge loss for you. When you are a growing or established eCommerce retailer, damages and returns will only slow you down and affect your business in many ways.
With an efficient retail warehousing strategy, you can reduce damages and returns drastically and cut costs. Having a fulfillment partner with multiple warehouses can help you simultaneously handle numerous orders and returns in a seamless manner.
In 2019, one of the members, Jungkook, of the biggest boyband globally, BTS, randomly mentioned a specific fragrance of Downy in his video live. Within minutes of the mention, the entire stock of Downy across South Korea was sold out. Downy later released a statement saying they are probably sold out for the next two months and need time to restock the product.
With the rise in social media and celebrity influencers, it only takes a few minutes for any product to have a surge in orders. The question is, are you prepared to meet this kind of large volume? With the pandemic pressing the reset button on the world and new normal coming into the picture, eCommerce businesses should be prepared to meet any book, whether low or high.
You need to have enough staff, inventory, and shipping resources at your disposal to meet the increased order volume and never too much. Knowing how much to stock and accurately forecasting consumer demands will help you prevent dead stock and shortage of products.
Inventory Management System
Irrespective of how big or small your eCommerce business is, it is crucial to have efficient inventory management that lets you track, forecast, and maintain your physical inventory. If you are not updated with the new technology and have a system with outdated features, that can cause more damage than good. With the combined efficiency of machine learning and AI, 3PL fulfillment centers like ShipBots can help you maintain a healthy inventory.
Retail warehousing is not just about having enough storage space for your physical inventory. It’s also about how efficient you are in tracking, auditing, maintaining the inventory to your advantage. With ShipBots, you get a complete package including ample storage space, efficient inventory management with cutting-edge software, and shipping solutions. Get in touch with us today to know how we can streamline the retail warehousing strategies for your eCommerce business.