Storage for Your Online Shop

shippingSo far we’ve thought about what you’re going to sell in your online shop and we’ve looked at our options for pricing the goods that you’re going to sell and we still haven’t got to the point of placing an order for those items we want to sell.

But before we do that there’s another important point that we need to think about … and think about quite seriously because if you make the wrong decision here you’ll end up fighting your own storage wars.

What are you going to do about storage for your online shop? Your shop might be online but if you’re selling tangible items then you need somewhere to store the things you want to sell.

Where are you going to put all that stuff?
Can you hear your partner saying that? Toni never said it to me but I’m fairly sure she was thinking that when my first lot of stock arrived.

Actually, it’s a fair question and one that you need to answer before your first order arrives. Where are you going to store all that stuff that you will stock in your online shop?

When I started my first online shop I knew that the items I would be selling would not take up a huge amount of room and even though I have increased the amount of stock I hold I can still pack it all into a large built-in storage area here in our home.

It’s not only accessible but the items are quite visible so I don’t usually have to go digging for a particular item when the orders roll in. So I was a happy little online store operator.

But then Toni decided that she had the time and the inclination to start several other online shops. Once again, the items she would be selling were not large and the amount of stock she would be holding was not big either … but the built-in storage area was full.

So the stock for her online shops lives in boxes in her home office … in the spare bedroom … and out in the garage. That may sound ok to you but sometimes … well may a bit more than just ‘sometimes’ … when an order comes in finding which box that particular item is in can be a problem.

Not only is that frustrating but it becomes harder to ship the item within the 24 hours that we promise our customers when it’s hiding in the bottom of a box.

So learn from our mistakes and make sure that if you’re running your business from home you have plenty of storage space and that you use it wisely so you can find the items when someone places an order.

You can’t do that here!
Our office space downtown* is in a block of light industrial units and our neighbour in those units sells specialised camping gear online as well as selling a select range of toys to toy shops and department stores across the country.

When he moved in next door his business was small … probably too big to run from home … but only just big enough to warrant its own small storage area. He too had his stock packed in boxes but he had some large benches set up that made it easier to find and pack the items whenever he had an order to fill.

He’s been there now for a couple of years and the business has grown so now there’s a lot more stock and leaving it boxes that have to be dragged out and opened every time an order comes in is not working for him anymore.

So he arranged for some pallet racking to be installed and as a courtesy he mentioned it to his landlord. You can imagine his surprise when the landlord told him in no uncertain terms that he would not be allowed to install pallet racking.

There seems to be no good reason for the landlord’s refusal to allow the installation of pallet racking. The building was built to industrial standards … the concrete floor is thick enough to support pallet racking … but the landlord just plain refuses to allow him to put the racks up.

Our neighbour has given up trying to convince the landlord that pallet racking isn’t going to destroy his building and he’s moving out … at considerable expense. There’s a new lease to sign … there’s the actual transport of his stock to the new premises … and of course he has to repaint the interior of where he is now. (That’s something that’s a standard inclusion in most commercial leases in this part of the country.)

I guess the moral of our neighbour’s story is that when you do move your stock out of your home and into commercial premises you need to make sure that there is room for future expansion . Before you sign the lease check that you can install shelving and whatever else you need as your business grows.

So what are you going to do about storage for your online shop? And don’t forget to factor the cost of storage into your prices.


*And in case you’re wondering why, if our office is in a light industrial complex, we don’t just move our stock down to part of the office the answer is simple.¬†We are really busy with Toni’s main business and we already spend far too much time there. So if we want to have any sort of life outside of the office then packing orders from our online stores gets done at night, at home where we can work together and spend time together.