A service-based business has an inherent advantage over businesses that ultimately deal in real-world trade. It’s quite obvious that the day to day tasks and the running of the business is going to be smooth and all done online. Be they wire transactions, swaps, trades, buy and or sells, all actions are taken via online software programs. This is the future that all businesses will have to learn how to conquer and utilize as if it were their second nature. But for small businesses that earn their keep in the act of selling tangible, real products to customers, those things may be the last thought on their minds. It’s a tough task to take on, but the image you might have of your business in the beginning when you’re just dreaming turns out not to be the reality that you face day to day. It’s one thing to market your business and products, make sure they’re out in the limelight and stacked right up against your rivals, but storing, loading, packaging, and distributing them is another. It’s an exciting but laborious challenge that you can only get through but sheer hard work and will. A little bit of clever planning and structuring will be the rocket fuel to boost you to new pastures.
Why you need a central warehouse
Where you operate and how far you intend to go is a choice you must first make before you set up a warehouse. If you’re based in a city, do you intend to keep within the boundaries of your state or county? If you are beginning to think big, the next question you have to ask is whether the state you’re in will do, or perhaps conquering the region is your desire? If you’re already planning on being the head honcho in the region, then the next stop is being nationally acclaimed before the entire world awaits you. Location is the absolute end all and be all for warehouse locations. Since you’re trying to reach out in a 360-degree fashion, there’s no point in building or buying your warehouse that’s going to be lopsided in one direction.
Your main or central warehouse will be the mothership. From here, all other actions are implemented which can spread out across the streets, highways and narrow country lanes. Rather than having lots of smaller warehouses, it makes more logistical sense to have one large warehouse. This is, so you are more or less, an equal distance away from all other surrounding locations. North and south are both equal distances because if you’re in the center, the advantage you have is to not be too far from any of your customers. This gives you the ability to give roughly the same amount of time, i.e. days, from which the order is placed to when it is received by the customer.
You make the rules
Having your own warehouse comes with a lot of benefits for you and your customers. For one, you don’t have the headache of wondering where you inventory really is. Paying for another company to house and store your products that will later go on to be shipped to awaiting consumers, doesn’t sit well very easily for most people. Another pain in the backside is the fact that you don’t know who is handling your products and how they’re treating them. A damaged product can get lost in translation because if the delivery service was great and didn’t harm your product by being clumsy, then further questions arise. The only other two plausible reasons for a customer opening up a product to find it broken is if the product came off the assembly line like that or somebody at the warehouse mistreated it. Since you don’t own or run the warehouse, there’s no way of knowing exactly how it happened. Now you’re relying on the word of the manager who was running the shift when your product was dispatched but how can you trust him or her when they let it slip by them in the first place?
Running a warehouse isn’t as tough as you might imagine. Due to leaps and bounds made in the inventory interface technology that modern warehouses all use, the chain of confirmation almost guarantees catching any hiccups before the product is dispatched. These interfaces tell the manager how much stock of a product is life and what specific kind, such as a red t-shirt or blue t-shirt, size, gender etc. each link in the chain also communicates flawlessly with the other. Managers are always updating each other with the situation at their end, so mistakes are minimized to the umpteenth level.
Do you really need a carrier?
What happens when you order a product from an online retail business? Aside from the process of the warehouse managers, the product has to be dispatched and sent to a local carrier facility. This means that your product is in the hands of a third party company that usually specializes in package delivery. These sorts of companies will be partners with the online retail company and be called carriers because it’s their job to carry the product to the customer. A carrier facility is the package delivery company’s warehouse which is operated in the exact same manner. They will collate all the products that have been ordered by customers that live in a particular location into one large warehouse. Usually, for the purposes of convenience, carrier facilities are divided into their own district of a region.
But the question is do you really need a carrier to facilitate the distribution for your business. A company like Freo Group has truck drivers ready to be hired for hauling large and heavy freight. Their drivers are going to be experts in the knowledge of the roads and highways they use. By hiring these truckers to collect the freight in which your products are contained in straight off the assembly line, they can transport everything back to your own warehouse. From there, you can hire teams of drivers that known the local areas like the back of their hand, and deliver to customers that way. Rather than your products being stored and taken from the carrier’s warehouse, you can operate your warehouse and delivery teams as one wholesome unit. Carriers that have a customer’s product in their truck and are on their way will be marked as ‘in transit’ on either the delivery company’s tracking page or on the online retail company’s tracking page. However, if you have ever waited for a product, you know that ‘in transit’ doesn’t really mean anything in the way of exact time. For the delivery company, this is convenient because they can make multiple stops along the way, before heading to you as the customer. With your own team of carriers, you can give customers exact times of when the product will be delivered.
Forming your own carriers
Forming your own courier service is one of the less complicated parts of real world business. The vehicle of choice of very important as it has to be logistically capable as well as be a good and safe workhorse for the drivers. Vans offers great handling, and although they may not have the height for tall objects, they make up for it in length. Trucks are logistically the best for being able to harbor almost any object out there, but they’re slow and cumbersome. On the other hand, if you’re delivering smaller producers, a 4×4 family truck would be great to whip around in.
Next, the loading equipment such as a dolly to lift up heavy objects would help the couriers to load up their vehicles. Pump trucks can lift up heavy pallets with multiple medium-weight items in packages. Buying safety clothes for your teams would also help speed things along. Safety helmets, safety boots, gloves and goggles are just some of the things they should wear when loading.
Since the new team is part of your business, you can have a little fun in designing the uniform they wear when making deliveries. Buying and placing a top of the line sat-nav in each vehicle would also be prudent rather than relying on the couriers to use their smartphones. Much like the warehouse managers use interface technology to acknowledge products that have been processed and being shipped out, couriers have the similar technology of confirming or showing they were unable to make the delivery. The customer might not be at home at the time an attempt to deliver the product was made. The courier could get stuck in traffic or perhaps even have a punctured tyre. This is why a courier interface technology is vital to keep track of what’s going on out in the streets where the connection with the consumers is made.
You don’t have to fall in line like everybody else. If you want greater control over your business, the distribution of your products and the real world interaction with customers must be treated heart and soul a part of your daily business activity. Make an educated decision about where your warehouse should be, and slowly form your own team of couriers that flow with the rest of the team.