You’ll often hear the terms “warehouse” and “fulfilment centre” used interchangeably as if they mean the same. There are similarities but each has some distinct characteristics. Let’s unpack both to give you a better idea of which warehouse logistics solution in Brisbane is right for your business.
Picture either in your mind, and you’re likely to envisage a large building that holds inventory for businesses that sell goods. The use and services each provides are often quite different.
Read on as Tough Yakka breaks down the definitions of a warehouse and fulfilment centre.
Warehouse Logistics in Brisbane Explained
When we refer to warehouse logistics solutions, it generally applies to companies that store products for extended periods of time. Warehouses are big storage centres designed to keep inventory in big quantities. You’re likely to see forklifts, shelves stacked high as well as containers.
Warehouse providers tend to deal with wholesale businesses whose purpose is B2B commerce. Some larger retailers may have their own warehouses. Renting warehouse space tends to work better for smaller businesses.
Warehouses, particularly at large ports, tend to be the first storage point for large quantities of stock that have arrived by sea. The stock may get unloaded into a warehouse before moving on to a fulfilment centre at a later stage.
Fulfilment Centres Explained
A fulfilment centre is part of the supply chain. It acts as a hub for the logistics processes necessary to get products from a seller to their customers. It will take care of the whole fulfilment process, including picking and processing along with packaging and shipping.
Some businesses prefer to outsource their logistics to a specialist third-party. Fulfilment centres are there to get online orders to customers efficiently. They relieve e-commerce companies from managing such a vital but challenging part of their business.
In a fulfilment centre, a business’s inventory will get stored strategically. This ensures the fast and effective fulfilment of customer orders. When a shopper makes a purchase online, inventory gets picked up, packed and labelled for shipment.
Fulfilment centres can also handle business-to-business orders. They tend to be high-volume products sent to retailers.
Short-Term vs Long-Term Storage
There is a warehousing part to a fulfilment centre: storing inventory in designated places. However, the main aim of a fulfilment centre is to turn over inventory fast.
Inventory would typically not get stored in a fulfilment centre for longer than a month. If it did, a merchant may end up paying costly warehousing fees. There is a balance necessary that ensures sufficient stock available for shipping. Warehouses, therefore, work in tandem with fulfilment centres to meet customer expectations.
Warehouse and Fulfilment Centre Operations
Warehouses tend to be more passive, inactive and static compared to fulfilment centres. Operations in fulfilment centres are often complex and highly challenging. Services include:
- Taking in and storing inventory
- Generating packing lists and picking out products
- Assembling certain products
- Packing up boxes and labelling them for shipment
- Managing shipping orders and returns
At a warehouse, the “big events” happen whenever any inventory arrives or gets transferred to another location. Fulfilment centres require many other tasks and can act more like sorting centres and delivery stations.
The companies that run fulfilment centres may deal with lots of different shipping couriers. They’ll often be picking up orders several times a day. That makes them busy places. There may also be guarantees related to delivery times adding an extra layer of complexity and pressure to daily operations.
Although warehousing is a vital part of order fulfilment, the key function of a fulfilment centre is to handle the various processes between the time a buyer places an order and the time it arrives at their address.
Though it is possible to keep merchandise in a fulfilment centre for the longer term, there are likely to be higher warehousing fees.
The Skills Needed in Warehouses and Fulfilment Centres
A warehouse will usually need fewer scheduled pick-ups. It tends to be more cost-effective to ship freight by having containers wrapped together on pallets. There would tend to be no need to generate large quantities of shipping labels.
Managing a large physical space may not match a company’s profile. This is why many e-commerce businesses don’t want the hassle of storing inventory or dealing with warehousing issues.
Both warehouses and fulfilment centres need staff with special skills. Warehouse labour can range from driving pick-up trucks to physically moving stock. A warehouse logistics solution in Brisbane can include labelling and packing. Staff work under immense pressure so that customers receive the best possible service.
- Pallet wrapping
- Scanning and labelling
- Driving forklift trucks
- Heavy lifting
- Put away and cross-docking tasks
- Storage Preparation
As companies expand, they may find that a fulfilment centre is an essential part of their business. They may be no longer able to cope with processing the number of orders they receive. They may require more warehouse space as well to store their products before it heads off to a fulfilment centre.
Deciding on a Warehouse or Fulfilment Centre
Managing inventory cost-effectively and efficiently is vital for all businesses. The terms “warehouse” and “fulfilment centre” tend to get used interchangeably. However, the requirements connected to store inventory are often quite different. This is when compared to those needed to carry out complete fulfilment logistics services.
These differences all come down to the type of businesses involved. Warehousing companies tend to be in the business of storing large quantities of inventory over longer periods of time. Fulfilment centres tend to offer more services. They’ll often ship products quickly to order often directly to the homes of individual customers.
A One-Stop-Shop for Staffing Warehouses & Fulfilment Centres
At Tough Yakka, we know how fluid warehouse logistics solution can be in long-term storage and fulfilment centres. Our teams of highly trained staff have years of experience behind them. They’ll meet the physical and logistical challenges these busy locations face every day.
Leave it to Brisbane’s experts. Get in touch with us today and get your warehouse logistics solution sorted with one call.