Although it’s one of the least exciting things that a 3rd party fulfillment company does, inventory storage remains one of the most important.
How and where your inventory is stored can make a huge difference between products that arrive in perfect shape and those that are worse for wear upon arrival. It might seem like a small thing, but having the right kind of inventory storage can seriously impact how your shoppers view your business.
Inventory Storage: Know Your Options
Businesses like yours offer a huge range of products, some that are much more delicate than others. That’s why 3PL should give you several choices of places to store your items, so that no matter what you have for sale, it’s kept in optimal conditions.
Here are just a few options to look for in inventory storage with a 3PL:
- Climate control. First and foremost, you should be able to choose climate-controlled storage for your delicate goods like vitamins, cosmetics and nutraceuticals. When temperature absolutely matters, you can’t afford to lose items to overly hot or cold warehouse conditions. Instead, move those products to a climate-controlled facility to keep them fresh.
- Secure areas. Ideally, all warehouse storage areas will be secure to some extent, but some areas are more secure than others. High priced luxury goods should always be kept in areas that are extra protected, just in case something sinister were to be afoot. A loss of that caliber can be time consuming to replace, especially if your goods are custom-designed.
- Bin storage. Items like costume jewelry and electronic hardware are often impossibly small when compared to the warehouse space where they’re housed. That’s why many 3PLs and fulfillment services offer bin storage. These smaller spaces allow more compact sorting of small items, as well as easy access to a wide range of SKUs for order fulfillment.
- Pallet storage. Bigger items or items that will be shipped on as full pallets don’t need to be unboxed and stacked into bins. They can stay together on individually labeled pallets that make it hard for them to get accidentally misplaced. Pallet storage is an inexpensive option for larger items that can be easily picked straight from the same stack they arrived on.
Inventory storage is nothing, however, without some way to track where your products are housed. Ensure that your future 3PL also has a barcode scanning system or other sophisticated means of telling two similar-looking packages or products apart and virtually eliminating pull mistakes. Other features, like internet-enabled video monitoring and protected loading docks can help you feel more comfortable leaving your valuable merchandise in the hands of someone else.