Storage fails can cost you dear, through lost time, revenue or creative energy. The purpose of storage should be a means to an end, not the end in itself. The storage location is important, but so is the way you arrange your space if you want to maximise efficiency and put storage at the heart of your money-making enterprise.
Choose the Right Kind of Storage
Choosing the type of storage that best suits your needs (and builds in some flexibility for future growth) isn’t overly complicated when the options are clearly set out:
- Warehousing. Some businesses couldn’t manage without it. They need loads of space in order to fulfil giant orders, but it’s not for everyone. While it may sound grand to house stock in a warehouse, it could be more prudent to divert the costs into more profitable activities. On top of the warehouse space itself, you’re likely to pay for utilities used, VAT, and have business rates to factor in.
- Home Storage. The average family home isn’t designed for business stock storage. In fact, many families struggle simply to find storage for their belongings, never mind additional space for stock. Potential pitfalls here include delivery problems if there are narrow passages, stairways, steps or parking problems for larger vehicles. It may serve as a stopgap to get a fledgling mail order business up and running, but treat it as very short term and seek out viable alternatives as soon as possible.
- Self Storage. Self storage units these days are used to business owners looking for stock storage spaces, and many are geared up to be as helpful as they can. They may take delivery if you can’t be there, for instance, or sell packing materials if you happen to run short. In addition, the room sizes vary hugely to meet all kinds of different needs, and you can upgrade or switch to something smaller on very short notice. Far from being a half-way house, self storage is rapidly becoming the one-stop solution for many business storage conundrums.
Optimise Your Storage Area
Everyone knows that time is money. If you can save time on a task, you can move quickly to the next and maximise your profits. Companies plough lots of effort into time and motion studies so they can ensure a streamlined and efficient workflow.
Every storage area needs some kind of system that makes items easy to locate and stock levels simple to monitor.
- Have shelves or racks where you can display stock for maximum visibility.
- Put the fastest moving goods closest to the door.
- Label shelf spaces as well as boxes so you know instantly where newly delivered stock should go.
- If space allows, create a walkway down the middle of shelves or clothes rails to make navigation easier.
- Cull slow movers regularly. Hold flash sales, giveaways or write off those items that won’t sell at all. Don’t allow dead stock to take up valuable real estate in the stock room
- Stock take regularly to keep stock topped up and monitor breakages or other losses.
- When stacking boxes, have safety uppermost in your mind. Put the biggest or heaviest items at the bottom, and avoid overfilling boxes so they’re not too heavy to lift or risk the bottom falling out when they’re moved.
And here’s the promised ‘half a tip’ — pack up parcels for posting right where you keep your stock instead of wasting time transporting items to a different pack and dispatch location. It doesn’t take much organising: put a desk in the corner with somewhere to store packing materials, and arrive at your storage location armed with a list of today’s customer orders. Getting orders out promptly builds up customer loyalty and a good reputation, both of which add up to more profit in the long run.