In these days of global communications and readily available fast Internet connections, selling online provides a relatively easy entry business opportunity for new entrepreneurs. Creating the retail platform and finding online customers is, in many respects, the easy part. Far more challenging for many operating under this business model is the question of where and how to hold stock.
An Alternative to Home Storage
Many new sellers start out by taking advantage of the lowest hanging fruit in the storage world: the readily available and apparently convenient space at home.
What starts out as an easy solution, however, can soon turn into a logistical nightmare, which demands complex juggling of not only space but also the all-important work/life balance. Business owners are already aware of the long working hours demanded of them, and when working and leisure hours become merged, can very quickly come to feel they are always at work.
If it all possible, the smartest decision at the outset is to avoid home storage while still keeping costs down. Starting small-scale means warehousing is automatically ruled out and there is often no need for dedicated office premises.
Scalable, flexible storage for business is available through self storage facilities, many of which welcome business customers. Some storage offers many advantages over home storage, and these include:
- Easy access for vehicles of all sizes with ample parking.
- Staff who will take delivery when you can’t be there.
- Short-term contracts running from just one week.
- Convenient town locations with long opening hours.
- Robust, professional security.
- Wide variety of storage space sizes, going up from locker sized spaces.
- Pallet trucks and trolleys to help move bulky or heavy items.
- The ability to grow as the business grows, creating an easy route to expansion.
Combine Storage With Admin and Packaging
Streamlining operations is vital for business efficiency with, for those operating mail order retail businesses, handling time becoming a key issue. Again, self storage offers versatility. By renting a room slightly larger than that needed strictly for storage, spaces created for a bespoke pack and dispatch station.
All that is needed is a small desk or table (and possibly a chair for comfort). Here, all packing and labelling can take place quickly and efficiently by doing away with the need to transport goods from one location to another. Some self storage companies even have supplies of packing materials available to buy should the need arise.
Labelling and Storing for Clarity
Having all the items for sale in one convenient location is only part of the answer. Completing the equation for efficiency means having a clear, understandable labelling and stacking system.
- Store small, similar items in transparent boxes so you can easily see what’s inside.
- As well as keeping computerised stock records, make stocktaking easy by keeping a running tally attached to all boxes of stock, adjusting the tally each time an item is removed or added.
- Install a sturdy shelving system on which to place goods rather than stacking boxes on top of each other.
- Arrange items logically. You could for instance adopt an alphabetic or numeric order for items in a similar range or style.
Safety, when it comes to storage, can refer to both personal safety when moving items, and stock security from theft or environmental damage.
Personal safety involves learning to lift heavy items correctly, how to use ladders safely, and how to stack items to minimise the risk of toppling or avoid creating trip hazards.
When stacking boxes for instance, always place the largest at the bottom as placing large boxes on top of smaller ones makes the stack unstable. Similarly, when packing boxes, avoid putting too many heavy items into one box. It is better to use several small boxes for heavy items, not only to prevent back strain when lifting them but also to reduce the risk of the bottoms falling out.
Maximise Cloud Storage
Modern cloud storage for business communications and records has revolutionised the way business is done almost as much as the invention of the computer.
Everything, from emails to invoices, databases, spreadsheets, and receipts can now be safely and securely stored in the cloud, and there are tools that can help you manage sharepoint permissions, for example, so you are able to control who has access to what. The only thing to be careful of is to choose a platform with the flexibility to grow as the business grows. Choose one that allows secure sharing of documents or collaborative, real-time working with colleagues (such as Google Docs), and be sure to set up automated syncing so there is no chance of human error or forgetfulness and documents are always updated with the latest version.
You can even do your bookkeeping and accounting online, incorporate daily bank feeds with the latest transactions, and submit your end of year tax return all from the same cloud package.
Optimise storage works across the board, affecting all areas of business. By taking advantage of the latest trends and innovations both online and in the physical world, sellers can lay firm foundations for business growth and sustainability.