How a Warehouse Works

Many of us go to the store and take for granted that everything we need will be right there on the shelf. We don’t think of all the steps and people it takes to get our favorite crackers, cereal or snack from the manufacturer and into our hands. The fact is there are countless steps in the logistics process for retail stores, none quite as important as the warehouse.

Warehouses are responsible for managing products and shipments of goods, acting as a coordinator between manufacturers and consumers. In this article, we’ll teach you how a warehouse works, the different roles required and the technology used.

How Warehousing Works

At its core, a warehouse is a storage facility. Large companies use them to store their products in a centralized location so it’s easy to ship and receive orders and track their inventory from one place. Nearly every product industry uses warehouses in some part of their product lifestyle.

Warehouses are set up to preserve products and create efficient shipping processes that support B2B logistics. Products are organized on shelves, tagged accordingly and logged in an inventory tracking system. That way when an order comes through or a truck needs to be loaded, the warehouse team can quickly find what they need.

Warehouse Roles

Within any given warehouse, there are six primary roles that must be filled for operations to run smoothly.

  1. Receiving: This role is responsible for signing off on shipments coming into the warehouse and ensuring all products ordered or expected are in the shipment. They also typically oversee unloading and might even run their own crew.
  2. Put-away: This team is pretty self-explanatory. They’re responsible for putting away items in the warehouse. Items must be handled with care, logged into the inventory system and stored in the appropriate location.
  3. Storage: Similar to put-away, this task focuses on storing products or items for the long term. The priority in this role is to maximize available space in the warehouse.
  4. Picking: This is the process of finding and pulling items to fulfill orders that will be shipped out of the warehouse. These professionals will utilize the inventory system to find items and ensure they have the product to fulfill orders.
  5. Packing: Packers will take items from pickers, consolidate them into single orders and pack them up for shipping. The challenge in this role is often to pack things quickly, efficiently and safely for travel to the customer.
  6. Shipping: The final step in the warehouse process, shippers are responsible for loading packages onto outgoing trucks and scanning the shipments into the warehouse management software. Shipment tracking numbers are used to ensure deliveries are completed within an established time frame.

Warehouse Technology

As you can see, there are a lot of steps in managing a successful warehouse. It’s no wonder so many warehouse managers and business owners turn to warehouse management software to help them manage all aspects of their operations. 

Warehouse management software is similar to other project management software but tailored specifically to the needs of warehouses. They often offer tools for inventory tracking, logistics planning, shipment tracking and more. These tools help warehouse managers create a more efficient operation and streamline their processes.

Some systems can even go beyond these tactical applications and offer more strategic insights and advice. Advanced systems can help with revenue reporting, demand forecasting and order fulfillment workflows all within a single portal. This means warehouse managers can make decisions that affect the future of their business instead of simply being reactive to their current challenges.

The Wonderful World of Warehouses

You might never have thought of the warehouses or professionals behind your favorite grocery or retail stores but they’re the backbone of most commerce industries in the U.S. Now that you know how a warehouse works, you can have more intelligent insight when problems arise in the supply chain or you find your favorite item out of stock.