Signing a new warehouse lease?

Assess your packaging efficiency first.

Empty warehouse ready to be moved into

Are you in the market to sign a new warehouse lease? Or, are you looking to expand? That’s exciting news and a big step for any company. While there are countless factors to consider when choosing a warehouse (location, cost, contracts and more), one important element is often overlooked: packaging.
 
Packaging materials, storage and optimization are all parts of your larger business supply chain. As we all know, a small pebble in your supply chain creates far-reaching ripples. Ed Milne, a Corrugated Sales Specialist with Veritiv, knows the implications all too well. With more than 25 years in the packaging industry, Milne has unparalleled insight into how minute details can impact productivity and the bottom line.
 
Packaging material storage and usage directly impact how efficiently your warehouse operates and the total space needed. Before signing a new lease, Milne recommends these four considerations to increase efficient use of space, productivity, customer satisfaction and overall success.

 

1. The impact (and restrictions) of COVID-19
Nearly every aspect of business has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your warehouse is no different. Now, space that was already tight has likely become even more limited as social distancing measures are implemented, protective equipment is installed and employee numbers fluctuate.

Consequently, there has never been a better time to audit your packaging and palletization. Practices such as maximizing density and eliminating wood pallets help make the most of every square inch and gain back valuable storage space. “It’s about taking your existing space and optimizing how your packaging fits in it,” says Milne.

 
2. Minimize wasted effort
It’s not just about how you store your packaging —it’s also about where you store it. Consider the packaging materials your employees need to access every day, such as tape and corrugated boxes. Walking across the warehouse floor to get these materials dozens (if not hundreds) of times each day wastes effort, time and money. 

You can minimize wasted effort in a warehouse by organizing packaging materials and supplies, placing them closer to the assembly area and applying the 5 S’s of LEAN cleaning to your packaging process. According to Milne, simple steps like these can free up employees’ time and potentially increase production without adding personnel or shifts.

 

3. Plan for the future
An uncertain economy shouldn’t stop you from planning ahead. Milne says one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating new warehouse spaces is “knowing where you see yourself in 2-10 years.” 

As you grow, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • How will you manage expansion?
  • Will you have the room to expand production lines, staff count, packaging materials and more?
  • Will you have flexibility in your contract to make changes as your business evolves, or will you be forced to look for a new facility all over again?

It’s also important to consider how your packaging may evolve, especially as sustainability and safety become higher priorities:

  • How might your product change? 
  • Will those changes impact your packaging materials? 
  • How might automation help increase efficiency and safety?

As your packaging and space needs grow, a packaging distributor can help shoulder some of the burden instead of, or in addition to, moving to a larger warehouse. Milne points out that “many companies can drastically free up warehouse space by having a distributor keep the bulk of packaging material on their own floor.” This type of strategic partnership can impact the size of the warehouse you may need and/or facilitate better usage of existing space.

 

4. Talk to your marketing team
Milne says, “Marketing departments can have a huge impact on warehousing and production.” If the marketing team has a specific vision for your packaging, such as exclusive branding or unique functionality, implementing their ideas can significantly impact the overall supply chain. 

Milne recommends “balancing the use of custom packaging and commodity packaging.” For example, use a plain, corrugated box shipper if the box won’t be presented to buyers during the purchasing process, and save the custom, more expensive packaging for customer-facing shopping experiences. Milne says this approach helps save money, streamline the packaging supply chain by using common boxes for multiple product lines and “focus marketing dollars where it impacts a customer’s decision to purchase”—a philosophy most marketing teams would agree with.

 

New lease? Consider the whole package.

Like with any lease, evaluating new warehouse space requires looking at both risks and rewards. Packaging should be part of this evaluation to maximize safety, productivity, customer satisfaction and overall success. 

As you get closer to signing on the dotted line, keep these tips in mind, and remember that despite today’s uncertainty, we shouldn’t put off planning for a better tomorrow.