Whenever stock is involved, keeping it in pristine condition and under secure lock and key is a priority. For online retailers, there are several options to suit most budgets, and choosing the right one for your current business needs paves the way for future success.
Starting Out with Home Storage
Home storage is often seen as the most convenient and cheapest option, which is why so many startups choose this in the beginning. If you’re considering home storage, consider these points:
Access – whether stock goes into the garage or the loft, you’ll need to carry it there. Are there kerbs, steps or winding paths to negotiate? Can delivery vehicles park outside without creating obstructions? Is your storage space free from damp and pests? Can you store safely without causing trip or topple hazards to other family members?
Shelving – sturdy shelving units, fixed to the wall for safety, must be strong enough to bear the weight of stock items. If you’re storing many small items, invest in transparent tubs, and use labels to keep track of numbers and type. If you’re storing items in boxes on top of each other, place the largest, heaviest boxes at the bottom.
Packaging Space – As well as storage, consider where you’ll perform pack and dispatch operations, along with the storage of packing materials. Try to keep these together. If you’ll use the kitchen table, for instance, clear out a kitchen cabinet to store packing materials.
These measures may get you over the first few months until the business is established. When you outgrow home storage, it’s time to consider other options.
Keeping Remote Storage Costs Down
In any remote storage solution, security is a factor, with others being convenience, safety and the correct environment to preserve quality. All of those factors are especially important when you’re buying in bulk.
Warehousing may be the first solution that springs to mind, but it’s not always the most cost effective. Long term contracts plus additional costs such as VAT and utility payments on top of space leasing all add up. Some businesses may get around those by sharing space, but that brings fresh complications in the shape of segmenting stock to avoid confusion, and who takes responsibility should there be a security breach or other emergency.
Self storage is a viable alternative, offering a range of storage space sizes to suit most businesses. You can even rent warehouse sized spaces if your needs extend that far. On the other end of the scale, large lockers cater for modest storage needs, and there are all sizes inbetween.
Further advantages include:
Short term rentals from just a week – scale up or down on short notice to accommodate stock level fluctuations.
Large delivery areas – easily take delivery from all sizes of vehicles.
Long opening hours – business owners notoriously don’t work 9 – 5.
No charges above the rental – all VAT and other charges are included in the space rental fee.
Deliveries in your absence – staff will take delivery on your behalf and keep items safe until you arrive.
Additional services – ecommerce businesses especially find courier services helpful.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg. In recent years, self storage companies have added many benefits specifically to attract business owners. The convenient town locations are another boon.
You can’t avoid the cost of doing business. What you can do is keep them as low as possible by exploring all the options and getting a little creative with solutions.