The global pandemic has seen the rise of eCommerce businesses looking to profit from the increase in online spending. It has become essential for companies to incorporate international warehouses into their supply chain.
Having international warehouses allows eCommerce sellers to reduce shipping time and costs, giving customers an incentive to purchase their products amongst the growing competition.
Nevertheless, while there are benefits, there are also challenges in managing inventory and distribution across multiple overseas locations. In addition, finding the right warehousing service can be complex, with the different rules and regulations, language barriers, and quality control specific to each country.
While partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) company can help smoothen and simplify the process, there are things that businesses can check for when choosing an international warehouse service.
Here is a guide to the 10 essentials to look out for when outsourcing warehouse services in the US.
1. Sufficient storage space
Ensuring that your warehouse has enough space should be the first step. A reputable warehousing service will also be knowledgeable about the specific volume needs of different products and can adapt based on client requirements.
It is also crucial for businesses to be aware of the exact storage details of all their products and be able to convey that to their supplier, who will then be able to plan ahead and accommodate the business. Lastly, a business should look out for warehouse layouts and services that can scale and grow with its clients.
2. A clean and safe warehouse
A safe warehouse is clean year-round. Not only does a clean warehouse indicate they are treating your products with care, but when inventory and operations are neat and tidy, the risk of damage and unaccounted for items become much lower.
3. Using WMS (warehouse management system)
The next element is to incorporate modern technology and software to help increase operational efficiency. Nowadays, most warehouses use a warehouse management system (WMS) that helps manage inventory transactions and optimize the first-in-first-out approach.
While most products, like furniture, that require warehousing services, may not have an expiry date, there can still be changes to the design and materials used. A WMS helps to minimize old models from accumulating and from ending up in the bin.
4. Right policies and procedures to enable efficient operations
An experienced warehousing service should have clear and strict policies and procedures to ensure operations are conducted correctly and on time.
These policies and procedures should cover the following:
- Guidelines on effective management and operations
- Health and safety protocols (including disposal of damaged and outdated items)
- Maintenance and cleaning procedures (such as pest control)
- Record keeping and logistical reporting
- Legislation and regulations
5. Availability of the right personnel and equipment to keep your products safe
Make sure that your warehouse service is maintaining the quality that it guarantees within your lease. This can mean that your supplier uses the appropriate equipment and employs people with the right skill set to store and handle products.
They should also have a clear and well-planned procedure for how they will handle each piece of inventory, noting down any special requirements.
6. Adequate knowledge on handling your type of product
A reputable warehouse service with a good track record should have the knowledge and expertise to understand the do’s and don’ts of different types of inventory.
This includes a proper understanding of the characteristics of a product, any specific equipment that should be used, the length and type of storage needed, and any additional factors to consider, such as security or company requirements. In this case, the eCommerce packaging tips come in handy for fulfillment companies during order fulfillments.
7. Proper certifications to carry out warehousing services
Ensuring your warehouse provider has the proper certification to carry out their operations and services should be part of your due diligence. These can indicate their competence with storing, handling, and operational procedures in line with that country’s warehousing laws and regulations.
8. Use of internal and external metrics (professional grade metric system and KPIs to ensure a high-quality service)
The extra step that can help separate a business from its competition is picking a warehouse service committed to scaling with you. An excellent way to see this is with metrics that help report and analyze any data that can prove helpful.
These metrics include advanced and modern WMS in place, as well as continuous logistical reports. These metrics are important as they track and show important information such as where delays, loss, and damage are occurring.
An essential when outsourcing warehouse operations in the US is picking a good location. Shipping costs and times are ultimately reliant on their proximity of warehouses to the customers.
Therefore, if you are planning to sell your products in the US, it would be wise to have warehouses in central hubs such as major cities on the east and west coasts.
10. Pricing – Are you being given the best rates?
Once you think you have found the best warehouse service for your business, the last essential is attaining the best rates. Finding a replacement can be time-consuming and expensive, and if you are committed to partnering with a warehouse for the long run, it can be helpful in the long term to negotiate a reasonable rate.
Now that you have a guide on things to look out for when considering an international warehouse company, you can make better decisions to avoid expensive mistakes in the future.
Using an international warehouse or an end to end order fulfillment service can help alleviate the responsibility and stress of shipping to customers in the US and overseas. In addition, this can free up resources that can be put into growing your business.
Here at MultiB2B, we understand what eCommerce businesses need to accelerate their operations and how to do it. So feel free to check out our website and put forth your queries.
The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “Warehouse Management Systems”