Public warehousing—a long-time solution for short-term warehousing needs—is evolving. The process of finding, evaluating and choosing the right public warehouse is now online and on-demand.
New technology has connected public warehouses across North America and brought them together in an online marketplace, where businesses can find space faster and easier.
It’s coming at the right time, as short-term warehousing has become increasingly popular and important to the supply chain. Omnichannel, same-day delivery and shorter product lifecycles are shifting the dynamics of how much space businesses need and where.
Everyone from Amazon and Ikea to small e-commerce startups are fighting to get products closer to customers, which means more distribution centers and warehouses in more locations. In addition, shorter product lifecycles make it harder to predict seasonality, which requires faster and more responsive solutions to unexpected overflow problems.
Public warehousing is the best choice for companies who don’t have the capital to solve these problems with private warehousing.
Public warehousing has a handful of key advantages:
- Zero capital investment (variable vs. fixed cost model)
- Greater flexibility (no long-term lease requirements)
- Reduced risk (zero capital investment makes adjusting to changing market dynamics easier)
However, it also has disadvantages:
- Communications problems (incompatible computer systems, lack of standardized tracking and inability to sync data across multiple warehouse partners)
- Antiquated search (finding a warehouse partner can take weeks or months of phone calls)
- Quality control (difficult to ensure quality with a third party service provider)
- Lack of standardization in contractual agreements (makes communication regarding contractual obligations difficult)
- Space may not be available (space shortages can arise, especially during peak season)
The good news is the recent evolution of public warehousing, from antiquated and disconnected to cloud-based and on-demand, is helping solve for many of these drawbacks.
Things like testing new markets, adding distribution centers and solving overflow problems are now easier with on-demand technology.
Here are five ways on-demand warehousing can make your short-term warehousing experience better:
1. An online marketplace makes finding short-term warehousing partners instantaneous, and electronic data interchange (EDI) cuts starting time in half.
2. Transparent pricing and warehouse data make searching for a reliable, quality partner easy and prevents billing surprises.
3. A single, standardized legal contract covers all your partnerships. You sign one contract, no matter how many different warehouse partners you have.
4. Automated tracking and billing makes it easier to manage pick-ups, deliveries and operations. You can manage multiple warehouse partners in multiple locations from a single dashboard, every warehouse is connected to the same WMS-lite platform.
5. Access to the largest network of public warehouse and 3PL space across the country means you can find short-term warehousing space anytime/anywhere.
Here’s a quick comparison chart that illustrates the evolution of public warehousing and new improvements with on-demand technology:
Future evolutions of on-demand warehousing will include increased transparency and quality control. FLEXE is in the process of creating a rating system for warehouse partners that will allow anyone to search for potential partners based on their quality. As more public warehouses pop-up, it becomes even more important to be able to differentiate between partners and find the right warehouse for your exact needs.
What would make your public warehousing experience better? We want to know!