If you are looking to store your products in a warehouse for the first time, or indeed are a regular user looking for additional space or a new supplier, choosing the right warehouse provider for your business and unique requirements, can be a frustrating and costly process.
Attitude of the provider
Their approach to customer service and proactivity will be key to your ongoing relationship. Things change regularly in business and how your provider adapts and shows how forward thinking they are will be key to the development of your partnership. A strong progressive culture should exist within the organisation to ensure they are always driving positive change throughout the supply chain. How easy is the provider to get hold of if you have problems? Can you speak to someone 24/7 if required? Are they able to offer you escalation procedures? A dedicated warehouse provider will demonstrate a positive attitude towards customer service and meeting your needs.
Any warehouse provider should be able to manage the volatility of your business, having a flexible solution that continually runs parallel with your requirements, whether this will be increases or decreases in volume or a change in the service to suit your business needs. In fact, understanding your business is key to being able to offer you the right solution at the right time, helping you to scale up and down as and when demand requires. This could include coping with seasonality requirements and fluctuations or new business wins. Either way, scaling up or down with the same provider is a much more cost efficient process.
Your chosen provider should be able to provide you with bespoke automated report functionality to help you manage your inventory. This will enable you to have simple and clear access to your activity so you can check stock is being managed correctly. Always ensure that your provider has a good Business Continuity Plan (disaster recovery) should there be any external or internal issues. If you are looking to use online services such as real time stock inventories, you should find out what online security they have in place to help protect you.
Range of Services
Your warehouse provider should be able to accommodate the vast majority of your existing or potential operational requirements, including order fulfilment, pick/pack, Out of Gauge (OOG) services or bonded storage. A bonded warehouse is a secured area where dutiable goods can be stored without payment of duty – ideal when storing goods ready for international export. In addition you should look to your provider to be accredited to a minimum of ISO standard and where possible demonstrate Authorised Economic Operator status (AEO) to demonstrate a strong level of internal governance.
When selecting the right provider to support your supply chain their location can be key to improving both full end-to-end costs and lead times. A thorough review of your current or potential supply chain should identify the ideal location for your warehouse needs. If you are looking to export or import your goods, then it makes strong financial sense to store your products in warehouses close to the ports you are looking to import or export your goods through. Doing so saves on transport costs to and from the port and also time.