With so many high priority concerns, startup business owners often neglect one vital question: where and how will you store the stock? Stock storage is not necessarily the most exciting aspect of a new business, but it has the power to either help or hinder business growth. Some business owners plunge in and hope stock storage will sort itself out in time, while more savvy entrepreneurs take a proactive stance from the start.
Bespoke Storage for e-Commerce Businesses
Online retailing is a popular business model. There are few overheads if you start small from home or from a small office, and you don’t have to worry about merchandising or opening hours. There are ways to cut even more costs though, and at the same time avoid turning your home into a makeshift warehouse.
Self storage facilities have become a favourite alternative to more traditional business storage of office premises, and done right can kill several birds with one stone.
Room sizes vary enormously (from small lockers to large warehouse spaces), so there’s something suitable for everyone. By renting a room that’s a little larger than you need just for storage, there’s space for a desk that you can turn into a packing station and use to update computer records. Other advantages include having staff on hand to take stock deliveries when you can’t be there and long opening hours so you can take care of orders in the evenings if necessary.
Ideally, you want storage that’s scalable, but it also has to fit within your budget. Weigh up your options before you put in the first stock order and figure out how much space you’ll need and where would be the most cost effective way of securing it.
- Warehouse Space – can be expensive, but maybe you could partner with a fellow business owner and share space? Dividing stock will be easier if both businesses hold different types, but with some logistical planning it’s possible whatever the stock type. Other things to think about with warehousing include costs such as utilities, VAT and business rates (none of which apply to self storage), and how you will divide responsibility or liability should anything go wrong.
- Home Storage – while convenient, home storage has its downsides. Vehicle access, trip and fall hazards from steps and stairs and the disruption of family life are just a few. Some startups store stock in the loft or garage but may run into damp or pest problems, or have difficulty accessing items efficiently.
- Office Space – renting office space can seriously eat into the budget, and is not necessary unless you’re employing teams of admin staff. Alternatives include cordoning off a section the home, hot desking with another company, or simply using your rented external storage space.
It’s important not to get bogged down in wanting a high street presence from day one. Weighing up what’s most important and where cost cutting will be invisible to your customer will yield the greatest value.
Creating a Workable, Versatile Space at Home
Since we’ve already mentioned the attractions of starting a business at home, here are the best ways of merging business and home life. Either commandeer the use of an entire room for business, or divide existing rooms to make an office area.
Ways to cordon off sections of multi-function rooms include:
- Using open-backed bookcases perpendicular to the wall as dividers. Alternate the direction that books and files face so it looks attractive from either side.
- Installing a corner desk with plenty of drawers for office supplies. Putting a desk in the corner helps free up floor space.
- Use small footprint workstations or trolleys that you can wheel out when needed.
Plenty of shelving for books, files and equipment is also vital. Deep bookcases can hold small printers as well as books, and stationery items up high on shelves keep them out of children’s reach.
If you’re storing stock at home as well as running the admin side from a home office, give plenty of thought to safety and how you stack boxes so they won’t topple.
There are many different storage solutions for startups, and by considering all angles you can turn a mundane business aspect into a dynamic solution that streamlines and powers your operation.