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Product storage for online retailers

Anyone wanting to run their own online business is faced with many uncertainties, issues and questions. Deciding how and where to store your products is an important factor. Should I store my goods in my basement to start with, or is it worth renting an external storage unit straightaway? Or would dropshipping work with my business model? Find the best storage option for your online shop with this guide.

Home storage

When first setting up your online shop it usually makes sense to store your goods and products at home in your basement or garage and take it from there. This way you avoid fixed costs and at the same time minimise the risk of entering the market with your new online business. It also makes it easier to manage your stock.

On the other hand, basements are usually cold and very damp – not the ideal storage conditions for most products. Even garages are not immune to the effects of heat, cold and damp. Once your online business reaches a certain size, your “in-house” logistics may no longer be suitable. There are also legal requirements, which must be met when storing in a garage.

External storage

With an increasing number of orders and a growing product range, storing goods at home is often no longer an adequate solution. There are several alternative options available depending on the type of products that you sell. You can either rent space in a large warehouse, expand your product range without increasing your storage requirements through the dropshipping model, or book a storage unit with a self-storage partner.

External storage options, as opposed to home storage, also give you the advantage of being able to purchase items in larger quantities thanks to the extra space available. So it is possible to take advantage of bulk discounts. This applies to your main products as well as shipping and packaging materials.

Size, margin and returns

The type of products that you sell is a decisive factor in deciding which storage option is right for you. Big products with small margins and a returns option take up the most space. High volumes of customer orders and long delivery times from suppliers are also other reasons to reserve more storage space. However, small products with high profit margins and low order quantities, with no returns option for customers are ideal for home storage.
 

Online store operator makes packages ready for shipment
 

Pallet storage space

Basic storage areas are everywhere. Here, there are no standards and you will mainly find yourself on intermediary platforms like this one. There are, however, also storage facilities and warehouses, that offer pallet storage space or high-bay storage directly. The advantage of pallet and high-bay storage is that they are cheap. However, there are no uniform standards as regards security or room climate (temperature and humidity). Access to your storage area is often also restricted to certain times.

Dropshipping

A new but growing e-commerce method is dropshipping. This option means that you don't need a stockroom, and instead, a partner, usually a wholesaler, ships your products directly. You are therefore only responsible for customer acquisition, sales processing and marketing. After receiving an order, you pass the dispatch order on to the distributor.

You save on storage and shipping costs and at the same time minimise the risk for your e-shop because there are no upfront purchase costs – you only purchase the products after receiving payment from the customer.

However, starting up your online shop from the outset using dropshipping is very difficult because you have smaller margins, which can be put at risk by the associated administrative work. Then again, at the same time, your brand still needs to be properly established and demand is not guaranteed.

When your online shop has developed a certain level of brand awareness, you could consider expanding your product range through dropshipping. That way you won't need any additional storage space and your sales will be in a better position to grow.

Self-storage unit

Using a self-storage unit to store your goods does bring with it the associated rental costs. However, it also offers many advantages and, above all, standards.

Where pallet and high-bay storage facilities often don’t guarantee flexible access to your storage area, this is something that self-storage providers do very well. When running an online store, having flexible access to your goods is very important. Self-storage units also guarantee certain standards such as surveillance and security systems to keep your goods safe, regulated temperature and humidity levels and, above all, a logistics infrastructure. As your sales volumes increase, an efficient goods handling system becomes all the more valuable.

When renting a storage unit, you also gain more space, which allows you to buy in bulk and benefit from quantity discounts. That applies to your main products as well as the shipping and packaging materials.
 

Potter ties packages for shipping

Zebrabox

In addition to conventional self-storage standards, Zebrabox offers some important extras, which have been designed specifically with your online shop product storage in mind.

You can access your storage unit and products at any time to fit in with your working hours – and we mean any time 24/7. This makes it easier to keep your inventory up to date and you can guarantee customers a quicker shipping time. Speak to a Zebrabox advisor for round-the-clock access.

Another big plus for your online shop is the receipt of goods service offered by Zebrabox. On request, the Zebrabox team will inform you when your order has arrived and been stowed away in your storage unit. Your goods will be there ready and waiting without you even lifting a finger.

If you run your own online shop, then Zebrabox is your perfect storage partner. We support small companies and startups and enable flexible growth. Together we check that you only ever rent the amount of storage space that you actually need. Zebrabox doesn't want to stand in your way and is always open to adjusting your rental contract. This allows your storage unit to grow flexibly alongside your e-business.

Even your customers are welcome at Zebrabox. Use your online shop's storage unit as a showroom and show people your products.

 

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