Storage for business is a little more involved than many people think at first. If you’re organised and efficient the business will run more smoothly, and when you can find stock quickly and safely there is more time for marketing and promotion.

These are some common storage mistakes and some ideas on how to avoid them:

Paying Too Much For Storage

Paying too much for anything is bad news for business, but when the expense is recurring and you’re tied into a contract it’s even worse. For most businesses, there are three main options regarding stock storage. Look closely at the type of business you have, how busy you are, your current and future stocking levels and decide on the storage you actually need rather than what may create a better public impression:

  • Warehouse space: Do you really need it? Warehousing can be expensive while some larger businesses need that much space, many smaller ones or startups don’t. With warehousing, factor in what you’ll pay for VAT, rates and utilities on top of what you’ll pay for space rental.
  • Home Storage: Can be an ideal solution for those just starting small, or for some running mail order companies or online retailers with limited stock ranges. It’s vital you arrange suitable space in the home to keep office supplies and equipment safe, prevent topple or tip hazards if storing boxes, and update security and insurances if necessary.
  • Self Storage Facilities: Despite offering this service for several years now, lots of small business owners are still unaware of the advantages in choosing self storage over other options. Long opening hours, short terms, room choice sizes and professional grade security all make it cost effective and convenient.

Many businesses pay too much for storage. Ideally, they should be investing that money back into the business by making wiser storage choices.

Failing to Create a Stock Room System

Without a stock storage system you can waste hours in searching for elusive items someone just bought that you need to ship out. Here’s how to organise efficiently:

  • Put fast sellers close to the door. These are the items you’ll go for most often, so save your feet and precious minutes in retrieving them.
  • Label your boxes. Sounds obvious, but unclear or ambiguous labelling is a real time waster. Describe exactly what’s in each box, including colour, size, manufacturer or anything else that’s relevant.
  • Include a tally of the contents on the outside of the box. Maintain this rigorously and you’ll know at a glance when you need to re-order. It also makes stock taking much easier and quicker.
  • Include a note taking area, either by leaving a gap on a shelf or hanging a white board somewhere.
  • Leave a walkway through the centre of the stock room so you don’t have to weave through haphazard stock towers.
  • Include a pack and dispatch area if you’re packing for postage. All you need is a small desk or table and somewhere to put packing materials. 

Not Planning for Seasonal Changes

Every business experiences fast and slow times. Planning for when you’ll be either busy or relaxed helps you capitalise on all opportunities.

Choosing a versatile and flexible storage facility helps with this. Self storage, for instance, has short term contracts which make it easy to add or subtract storage areas from your available space. By renting an extra small room for a few weeks, you can buy in extra stock over Christmas or other holiday periods or take advantage of overstock opportunities that come your way.

Neglecting Health and Safety

Health and safety considerations apply even if you work as a sole trader. You may not have the risk of being sued if your boxes topple on your head, but how will you cope if you’re injured and can’t work? Here are some safety tips:

  • Make sure storage shelves are aligned properly, and don’t let goods overhang.
  • Don’t overload shelves beyond their designed weight capability.
  • Choose areas where floors are level.
  • Stack items correctly, with the heaviest at the bottom.
  • Avoid using damaged pallets to move stock.
  • Invest in sturdy step ladders if you have items stored on high shelves.

When you’re busy, cutting a few efficiency or safety corners is tempting, but ultimately not worth the risk. It’s just as easy in the long run to set up safe and efficient storage systems and spaces, and in doing so avoid most of the common storage mistakes others are making.