The terms “warehouse” and “distribution center” are often used interchangeably—even by industry professionals. Does that mean that these two terms are without difference? No, not really. There is, however, a lot of overlap. It might make more sense to refer to what most businesses use as a distribution warehouse.
Chances are you’re looking for a service that does it all. A warehouse, as you know, is a place where inventory or other items are stored until they need to be sent to their next destination. This could be a showroom, a retail store, a supplier, or the facility where the items will be used. Generally speaking, warehouses deal with retailers or wholesalers, but do not serve the public.
A distribution center does everything a warehouse does—and much more. Distribution may involve separating or assembling items, packing and shipping them, or breaking up bulk shipments into smaller shipments for multiple locations. In fact, a company with a distribution warehouse may handle some shipments without any warehousing at all. That’s because cross-docking or transloading can save money, staff, and time while getting inventory to its destination even faster. A distribution warehouse may serve the public as well as businesses, retailers, or wholesalers.
If you’re planning to contract a distribution warehouse to help with logistics, here are a few features you should seek:
- Flexibility. Ensure that you’re only charged for the space and services you’ll actually use. Cross-docking services can save you big on warehousing costs.
- Coverage. You don’t want to be on the very outskirts of the delivery area of the company you hire. Get a good idea of their areas of coverage before you sign.
- Services. Look carefully at each aspect of service so you know you’ll be saving money while still providing excellent service to your customers.
- Reviews. It’s true that in some cases, clients are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive. But reading reviews of any distribution warehouse you’re considering is a vital step. Many sites also let you ask follow-up questions.