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Warehouse Management Blog

Our team of Fulfilment Consultants share warehouse management best practice and advice.

Temporary warehouses for eCommerce

How To

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

12 November 2015

We recently wrote a post about using small urban warehouses for eCommerce to reduce the costs and make the most of all available space during peak times. On that note, there is no shortage of potential venues for temporary warehouse operations. These could be temporary warehouse structures, or even a business that is a temporary pop-up.

Moving warehouse is a bit like moving house - it costs a lot of money and is a real pain to get organised. Consolidating warehouses to improve operational efficiency can take time and it is not unusual for even the biggest logistics operators like DHL and UPS to take on temporary warehousing.

[Related: How to save warehouse space and avoid moving]

High street retailers have a demand for temporary warehousing, too. eCommerce has started to alter the makeup of their distribution centres as better eCommerce order fulfilment is needed. Sales order picking and pick-face replenishment for eCommerce puts different demands on warehouse resources. Pallets and forklifts are replaced by smaller picking bins and fast-walking warehouse staff to pick individual units with high levels of accuracy and speed.

There are a number of reasons why businesses are taking on temporary warehousing:

  • To add extra capacity during peak periods.
  • To help bridge the gap between warehouse moves.
  • To support high street retailers re-engineering to meet the demands of eCommerce.
  • To serve specific regions more cost-effectively.

In the past, temporary warehouses for eCommerce have caused a lot of headaches because, while the space can be found easily, setting up the correct warehouse processes and systems can be tough. Traditional warehouse software is sold on a per-site licence that is typically very expensive. This means companies have to pay more to get a new site up and running, even if they only need it for 2 months.

It is a nightmare scenario that may have led to some eCommerce retailers taking on third party logistics companies in the past. Not only was this expensive, but it could take months to get set up. The biggest challenge here is finding a partner who is ready to go when you are. This can be tricky when you take all the requirements into consideration.

On-demand, temporary warehousing is likely to find better success with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) warehouse management system (WMS), and here is why:

  • It can be up and running at short notice - it can take less than two weeks to get an off-the-shelf SaaS WMS live.
  • Easy, on-demand WMS integration with eCommerce order systems - a lot of demand for temporary warehouse software is from eCommerce order fulfilment.
  • You can use the pay-as-you-go payment so the costs are as variable as the demand. Add extra users when you need them and take them away when peak is over.
  • they are capable of handling bulk storage of pallets and containers, as well as small-unit picking and pick-face replenishment.
  • They can be hosted off-site, requiring little on-site IT resources. In most cases, support can be given remotely and any issues resolved from the central point.
  • 4G enabled Android devices mean you can operate without WiFi.

A big consideration for using a SaaS WMS in a temporary eCommerce warehouse is the internet connection. To avoid signing any long-term contracts with an internet provider that you will not be using for the full term, it may be more ideal to make your temporary warehouse space 4G-enabled instead. Cutting-edge warehouse systems will have Android capability or similar which means you can run your warehouse without a fixed-line service provider.

[Related: SaaS vs On-Premise for eCommerce]

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