The ongoing trend toward online shopping is pushing consumer expectations to new heights. The National Retail Federation reports “consumers increasingly expect free delivery of items,” and with the supply chains already under high stress, businesses must choose between passing the burden to customers or shouldering the increased cost of doing business.
While the world hurtles toward an ever-digital, global marketplace, and consumers continue to expect lightning-fast turn-around on their orders, the decisions you make for distribution and storage of your product-based business can make or break you. Micro warehousing might be your key to success.
What Is Micro Warehousing?
Micro warehousing is a distribution system that relies on the strategic, geographic placement of merchandise relative to where your customers want their orders delivered – or to distribution hubs that can stretch your operating dollars further. The central idea is to bring your warehouse closer to your customers so you can keep shipping costs down and shipping times quick.
By opening several micro warehouses in key locations, you can eliminate the need for one central, large (and awfully expensive) warehouse. If your aim is to decrease customers’ delivery times, you can follow a micro fulfillment model.
What Is Micro Fulfillment?
The micro fulfillment approach to distributing purchased goods can arguably be attributed to one of the preeminent commerce giants in the world today, Amazon. By constructing micro fulfillment centers in key geographic locations, they opened the door for same-day delivery, one of Amazon’s most loved customer benefits. Soon, other major distributors, like Walmart and Kroger, were taking notes and exploring their own micro fulfillment opportunities.
Several small businesses have adopted micro fulfillment practices as a way to survive through the pandemic – which continues to be a time of heightened demand for speedy home deliveries and same-day, instant-gratification pickups. Many storefronts have even become micro warehouses themselves as businesses collaborated with delivery services like DoorDash and Instacart. These services can pull the product right off the display shelf and bring it to your customers’ front door.
How Do I Start Micro Warehousing?
While we can’t help you with automatic package fulfillment, fancy robots, or automated orders, we can help you with the space – we are storage experts, after all.
Location is what matters most when choosing an inventory storage space. Finding affordable warehouse space may not get you inside city limits – especially in urban areas. Additionally, if you have a smaller operation, you may not have enough inventory to justify renting hundreds or thousands of square feet at a time.
Self storage facilities, on the other hand, are zoned differently than commercial warehouses, so they can serve as inventory and distribution centers with the exact amount of space in ideal neighborhoods for your customers. StorageMart has many convenient locations across the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Small businesses can additionally benefit from a micro warehouse to keep work and home separate. In the booming market of small businesses, it is common to start your operations and fulfillment of orders at home, but then as your business grows and more orders come in it can get crowded quickly. Having a separate space to keep your inventory and fulfill orders will keep your home feeling like home while giving you the freedom to continue to grow your business.
Choosing a Micro Fulfillment Warehouse
When you pick a storage unit to be your micro warehouse, make sure it comes with amenities that account for all the needs of your business. This list covers some of the amenities our customers commonly ask for when they rent a unit for their business.
1. Climate Control
Look for a unit that has climate control, especially if your inventory is temperature-sensitive or you live somewhere that experiences a lot of extreme weather. This way, you and your goods will be comfortable while you work.
2. Package acceptance
Restocking is easy with our package acceptance services. Our on-site storage experts can accept packages on your behalf and keep them safe until you pick them up.
3. 24-Hour Access
Ask about approved 24-hour access when you rent your storage unit. It’s available at many locations, and it’s especially useful for business owners filling orders or taking inventory outside of banking hours.
Pick a storage unit that is a bit larger than just your inventory. If you plan to fulfill orders on-site, you’ll want some space to work with, and having space for a workstation in your unit will come in handy. Our Storage Size Calculator can help you make an estimate.
Keeping Your Micro Warehouse Efficient
Once you find the storage unit that’s perfect for your business, take your time to organize as you move in. While it may be tempting to start shoving in boxes, you’ll want to think about where you want your workspace, walkways, and inventory access.
Shelving is a perfect starting place. Floor space is limited, but many units are about 8ft tall – use that vertical space. Your shelves can be organized however you like, but if you need a recommendation, start with lining the back wall and work your way to the front.
Bonus reason to use shelves: They keep your inventory off the floor so it’s in pristine condition for your customers.
Once your inventory is organized, all you need is a workplace. An old dining room table, desk, or even a spare wood slab on sawhorses will work. You can keep any packing supplies underneath your workstation, and rest assured that if you run out, our storage experts have packing supplies on offer in the front office.
Once your workspace is ready for filling orders, your micro warehouse is complete! All that’s left to do is to stock your shelves and start fulfilling your orders. Don’t forget about our complimentary handcarts which can ease the heavy lifting to and from your vehicle.
Grow Your Business With Micro Warehousing at StorageMart
Growing the operations of your business will play a vital role in maintaining customer satisfaction and future success. Micro warehousing can be the first step in allowing that growth to happen. At StorageMart, you’ll find clean, well-lit storage units that can be rented on a month-to-month basis and are perfect to help you grow your business. Need more info? Check out our Self Storage Calculator or rent a unit online today.