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Lessons from Startups and Fortune 500s Using Short-Term Warehousing to Get Ahead

Supply chain managers for Ace Hardware, Iron Mountain and a bed-in-a-box startup came together at the recent Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) annual conference and shared their personal stories about how they are using short-term (on-demand) warehousing to solve overflow problems, generate new revenues and gain ground in the battle for fast, low-cost distribution.

The panelists discuss supply chain challenges that plague retailers, e-commerce businesses, startups and warehouse operators across the country.

Their stories relay key lessons from the field and go into detail about how they implemented on-demand warehousing strategies and what the resulting successes and lessons learned were.

Stories about solving overflow problems in record-breaking time and generating half-a-million-dollars in new revenue dot the conversation. New ideas like pop-up warehousing are explained and cloud-based solutions to age-old problems are introduced.

Watch the full conversation now or read below for a few highlights.

Overall, the discussion offers lessons any supply chain manager can learn from.

Trade fixed costs for variable costs

To stay resilient and be able to pivot quickly, a leading online mattress startup traded fixed costs—service contracts and long-term sub-leases—for variable costs—pop-up fulfillment centers with no long-term commitments or service fees.

The logistics manager for the company comments that when your company is young and you don’t know where you will be in the next year, you don’t want to make long-term commitments. It’s important to keep your distribution network flexible and make sure you can make adjustments fast.

He says, “By not committing to major capital contracts or building equipment and facilities ourselves, we were able to push off the risk and focus on continuing to grow our business.”

Leverage technology to grow revenues

The director for North America channel sales for Iron Mountain stresses the importance of leveraging the right technology to grow and scale warehouse space sales. He utilizes FLEXE’s cloud-based platform to manage all outbound and inbound pallet activity and staffing needs—all without disrupting his core business. Finding the right technology platform has allowed Iron Mountain to turn fulfillment into a national business model.

Add flexibility to your supply chain

Supply chain manager for Fortune 500 company Ace Hardware talks about the importance of adding flexibility to your supply chain to manage unexpected peaks. He leverages on-demand warehousing during unexpected peaks to relieve his core warehouses of 15 – 20% of their inventory. Because on-demand warehousing can be rapidly deployed, this new solution has added critical flexibility to his supply chain and saved big money for his company.

“On-demand warehousing works for us because it is economical, it can be rapidly deployed and its web-enabled,” he says.

These are just a few of the highlights from the panel discussion. The speakers cover additional topics like improving customer delivery performance, building a multi-location distribution network with limited capital and how to keep labor and cash flow steady during down times.

FLEXE is grateful to the speakers and their companies for generously sharing their experiences with on-demand warehousing and helping advance the future of supply chain management.