Optimizing Warehouse Space for Your Small Business

by Amos Z

More often than not, small business owners bite off more than they can chew in terms of inventory, leading to their storage space becoming crammed with products or materials.

However, a small amount of optimization can go a long way, and it could help you increase the amount of usable space you’ve got, sometimes even enough to expand your operations.

By employing a strategic layout and organizing your warehouse in a way that allows for easy access and more free space, you can keep using that same small storage area for extended periods of time without having to expand.

This is particularly useful in the early stages of running a business, as it helps you cut costs and retain profitability even when sales aren’t performing too well.

On top of this, it’ll allow you to focus on growing your business one step at a time rather than trying to keep up with the rapidly growing pile of disorganized inventory you’ve got.

Calculate your current space usage

The best way to start reorganizing your storage is to get a good idea of how much of it you’re actually using, and while this does sound daunting at first, it’s easier than you’d imagine.

First, you’ll want to find the cubic footage of the warehouse, which is done by multiplying the square footage by the clearance height you’re working with.

After this, you’re going to calculate the potential storage space, all while accounting for the fact that you’ll also want to be able to move between the shelves in order to access your inventory with ease.

Storage space shouldn’t exceed 27% of your total warehouse cubic footage, and if you organize things this way, you’ll immediately have a warehouse that’s easy to navigate and not overcrowded with products.

Matching storage containers

Even if your warehouse is used to store different products and materials, this doesn’t mean you can’t find similar or identical containers to store them in.

Storing each product individually leaves a lot of shelf space unused, drastically reducing the amount of usable storage space you’ll be working with at all times.

By using identical containers, you can stack them atop one another and make room for additional products where you wouldn’t normally be able to, practically doubling the amount of space for storage without impeding your ability to safely navigate through the warehouse.

Another thing to look out for is storage containers whose volume is as close as possible to the volume of the products stored in them, which will also come in handy.

Organizing your items in this manner ensures that you’re not wasting any of the storage space you’re paying for while also allowing you to make the most of every cubic foot you’ve got.

Use the verticals

When you can’t move forward, the only way to go is up, and the same principle applies to storing materials and products.

Most of the time, a warehouse will have tall ceilings, and your shelves will easily exceed heights of 6-7 feet.

However, some business owners purposely choose not to store anything out of their reach, completely ignoring the fact that they’re wasting vertical space that they’ve already spent their money on.

Ladders have been around for long enough to justify using this space, and if you’re working with heavier loads, a forklift isn’t out of the question, especially if you’re looking to expand your business in the near future.

Having access to vertical storage means you can always reorganize it in a way that keeps your newest products or materials easy to access while the rest can be accessed via step-ladder or some other device that will help you reach it on a higher shelf.

Every square inch counts

Even if you feel like you’ve completely exhausted the space in your warehouse, there are always a few square feet that go unnoticed.

Corners and the space above doors are a perfect example of this, and each of these can easily house a few shelves that won’t necessarily store a lot but will be effective enough to keep you from having to expand for a while.

Of course, you’ll have to comply with the safety standards, as storing items above the entry to your warehouse could potentially be dangerous, so these products/materials will have to be secured in place with some form of harness.

Nevertheless, it’s space that shouldn’t be wasted, and you could use it for smaller items that won’t get damaged from falling from an overhead height.

Final word

Every small business eventually begins to expand, and this usually implies a lot of changes, starting from the amount of office space you’re using to the employees you’ll have to take on when you expand your operations.

However, not everything has to change immediately, and your current warehouse may be able to serve you for a little while longer with just a few adjustments to how you’re using it.

Optimize the storage space you’re using and save a couple of months worth of renting expenses by maximizing the number of items you’re keeping in your warehouse.

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