Storing Products for an Online Business
Not very long ago I had someone ask me about storing products for an online business. For me, it was a little funny because I got to tell them about the “circle of e-commerce life” that I’ve lived. Yep—there’s a backstory. When I got started, the LAST thing I had (or thought I’d need) was a warehouse. Let’s be honest: they are NOT cheap and I never even kind of considered that I’d have enough stuff that I’d have to need one.
So where’d I store all of my products? At my house!
That’s pretty dang normal for people just jumping into the online marketplace. (Note that I didn’t say anything about dipping toes. I’m definitely more of a leaping right in sort of girl.)
But then you know what happened, right? My business grew. And grew. And GREW. Pretty soon I had a big warehouse and a crew of awesome people and we were downright FIERCE at storing, packing and shipping all sorts of items.
Um…and I’d be lying if I said that it made me sad. Why? Because although I invested the time in learning all of the ins and outs of storing and shipping products…it’s just NOT something I loved. It’s not where I wanted to invest my time.
Then…bom, bom, BOM! I sold the company.
That meant no more warehouse, even though I still had products arriving.
So where’d I store all of THOSE products?
Nope, not at my house.
At my SISTER’S house.
Now before you get all Judge-y McJudgerton, the fact is that she asked if she could contract with me to ship those products. It made sense for both of us from a lot of different angles, so after ironing out some details, I redirected thousands of products right to her front door.
When it comes to storing products for an online business, there really are some things to be aware of. Here are a few tips:
Product Storage Tip #1: Get and stay organized.
Organization is a must for both storing and preparing to ship your merchandise. You need to know what merchandise is where along with the tools you’ll need to get it out the front door. My sister organizes based on upcoming events, with products that are going to be listed together located next to one another in storage. You can also choose to organize by merchandise type and SKU so that it’s easier to pick and pack those items later.
Product Storage Tip #2: Go all sorts of Henry Ford (think assembly line)
Part of organizing the products you’ll be selling online is to plan how you’ll be shipping them. Huge warehouses take an assembly-line mentality, and you can put the same idea to work in your basement or garage. Have a table, boxes, shipping labels, packing tape and all of the other good stuff you’ll need positioned close together.
Also—talk to your shipping company (like Fed-Ex or UPS, for example) about on-site pick up as part of your storage and shipping strategy. If you can avoid having to pack up all your packages and schlepping them to the Post Office, you’ll generally be a way happier person. (Seriously—your family will thank you for it.)
Product Storage Tip #3: Temperature and all that stuff
Okay, I live in a place where we have seasons, including winters that can get pretty darn chilly and summers that nearly roast us to death. That means that during our two longest seasons we need to be running heat or air conditioning to keep us comfy. That goes for products too. If you plan on selling anything that’s temperature-sensitive (i.e., could get ruined if it gets too cold or too hot) it’s crazy important to consider where you’re going to store it. In that instance, think basement or spare bedroom instead of the garage. If you’re renting a space, like a storage locker, make sure to think about that as well.
Oh! And try to keep your items up off the ground when you’re storing them. That will reduce the risk of damage and possible intrusion by pesky creatures like spiders.
Product Storage Tip #4: There are options
If you’re like a lot of people who are just getting started, it most likely will make better sense for you to store your online products at your home. But it does NOT need to stay that way. There are some great companies out there, like ShipZOOM, that will store your items, pull them as orders come in and ship them to your customers directly.
So basically, there’s just one other rule you need to know about storing products for an online business, and that’s this:
You can’t borrow my sister. She’s mine.
Talk again soon—