The pressures and responsibilities a business owner faces can add up to a heavy burden, turning what should be an exciting, creative and fulfilling venture into a worrying, stressful experience. When you’re running any kind of retail operation, stock is the business heartbeat.
Make the Right Storage Choice
Business storage falls into three broad categories: home, warehouse or self storage.
- Storing at Home: Keeping business stock at home has both advantages and disadvantages. While it may be convenient for small start-ups from a space and efficiency standpoint, it can soon lead to problems with access as the business grows. Having stock around the house can also impact family life and may even create topple or trip hazards, especially for small children. Give careful consideration before opting to store stock at home, weighing up how easy it is for delivery vehicles to park outside, what kind of access you have (slopes, steps, narrow passages), and how soon the business will outgrow its allotted storage space.
- Warehouse storage: May only really be viable if you need lots of space or could maybe partner with a fellow business owner to share space. This can be logistically difficult however, and you’d need a carefully worded, written agreement between you to stipulate responsibilities and liabilities should anything go wrong. Warehousing also tends to have added costs, such as utilities, business rates or VAT.
- Self Storage: Very often the smartest choice for small business owners in need of bespoke stock storage space. Facilities are used to renting for stock storage purposes, tend to be in good locations around towns, and have added flexibility and lower costs.
Organise Storage for Efficiency
Having chosen the most suitable location for stock, organising the space so you can quickly find what you need is the next step. Take a few tips from the pros:
- Put fast moving items closest to the door.
- Install freestanding shelving, and label each shelf space with what will go there. Reserve top and bottom shelves for those items you store for the longest periods.
- Arrange stock in a way so you have a walkway through the middle, if at all possible. Additionally, you can use storage containers such as a corrugated plastic tote or the ones like them and mark it with its contents. This makes stock easy to see and cuts down the time you’ll spend navigating through the area.
- Hold regular stock-taking sessions so you know which items are lingering and which sell faster. Consider having a flash sale to move the slow sellers, so freeing up space items with a faster turnover.
When space and stock is organised, order picking goes faster. As this is one of the least creative aspects of running the business, getting this part done and dusted gives you more time to focus on new ideas and creative business building.
Make Your Storage Room Work Harder
An efficient system leads to a streamlined business process. Some of the most popular sole trader business models involve online order fulfilling with a workflow that starts with a customer purchase, leads to the business owner locating the item, packing up the item for posting, then transporting the item for shipping. It’s a lot of travelling between locations, unless you can use a courier service that picks up packed parcels ready for dispatch.
A simple solution is to include a packing area in your stock storage room, which doesn’t take up much space. A table or small desk and somewhere to stow packing materials is all that’s needed.
Before leaping into any storage solution, investigate all your options and choose the best one for your personal business model. Take into account stock levels, size of items, and frequency of delivery. Devising an efficient stocking and storage method will be a massive weight off your mind, giving you mental room for the creative energy needed to grow the business to the next level.