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Integrated Warehousing and Distribution – What It Means for Your Growing Business

If you’re like many small business owners, you’ve worked hard to grow your business and before you know it, you require warehouse space to store your product. Hopefully, your products turn at a strong rate but nonetheless having the space you need helps you keep up with order fulfillment requirements.

When it is time to find warehouse space, it is also time to ask key questions. What do I really need? Will it serve my needs today and tomorrow? How much will it cost and how much overhead am I adding? The list goes on.

Finding Storage Space is Easy – Getting the Right Warehousing Solution is Not

“Getting” warehouse space is often found to be much more involved than it sounds.

  • Buying a warehouse involves up front capital you can otherwise be using to grow your business (not to mention the onerous process of coming up with financing – let’s face it, credit doesn’t come easy). Are you really in the real estate business?
  • Leasing can be the solution, yet you need to find the right place with the right terms. Consider if a long term lease will meet your needs today and tomorrow, too.
  • Flex Warehousing may work. Increasingly, you can find a warehousing partner that charges you a variable amount based on the space used…as you use it. In many respects, such providers provide you “flex space” – pay more as your needs increase and less when you’re warehousing less inventory (for example, this is great for business with seasonal needs or are fast growing).

You Need More than Warehousing – You Need Integrated Fulfillment

If you’re considering one of the options above, often only the last option provides you added flexibility – hence the term “Flex Warehousing”. As a business leader, consider the buying real estate really puts you in another business (all the expenses – and benefits of course – of owning property that requires maintenance and upgrading over time). Leasing often takes care much of the maintenance, but not all of it. Lastly, the Flex option provides ultimate versatility.

Flex warehousing providers are often not just “warehouse” operators; they are typically integrated third party logistics providers. What does this mean? Plenty. Principally, it means that they will often take care of your distribution and order fulfillment needs. In short, they understand you don’t need long term storage but rather, that your warehouse is a place to turn inventory – and inventory can only turn when it ships out and is replenished.

Receiving, sorting, warehousing, and outbound fulfillment all come together with these integrated 3PL service providers. They’re logistically “connected” and can shop your distribution needs to a network of transportation carriers to help you get the best freight and courier rates. There are not many out there, and even less that will be flexible enough to meet your entire needs.

Choose Your Integrated Warehousing and 3PL Fulfillment Provider Carefully


If the Flex option to warehousing and fulfillment sounds like a possible solution for you, start your research. The right approach would be to put together a list of your needs. Consider everything from the actual services required to how you will communicate – and with whom. In fact, once you establish that they “can” provide the service, find out if you “would hire them”. In short, pay all the attention you would to your warehousing and 3PL and fulfillment provider you would to hiring an employee. Do a gut check. Like the people? That’s just as important as their systems and processes.

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