Oftentimes, the terms warehouse and fulfillment centers are used interchangeably, when in reality, the operations differ significantly. The major link between the two, and the cause for confusion, is that they both store inventory for businesses. However, warehouses and fulfillment centers have benefits independent of the other and when choosing which is best for your business, these differences are important to note.
So what are the differences between a warehouse and a fulfillment center? Take a read through the guidelines below to find out which facility is best for you and your business.
Fulfillment Centres vs Warehouses
What is a Warehouse?
1. The Layout of Warehouse
A warehouse is a large building where goods and products are stored for significant amounts of time. Often large and plain in design, the day-to-day activity inside a warehouse is pretty static. Throughout the day, inventory is added, shifted, and transferred to different locations as needed. They often contain large containers, high shelves, and pallets filled with products. Due to the large area, you’ll often find warehouses situated in industrial parks on the outskirts of a city or town.
2. The Usage of Warehouse
Originally utilized by manufacturers, warehouses are now available to anyone involved in transporting products around the world. This includes importers and exporters, transport businesses, wholesalers, and customers. They’re designed to store large amounts of inventory (bulk items) until demand is needed. For example, certain seasonal items such as snowboards have lower demand in the Spring/Summer; a warehouse can house this surplus of goods during the off-season, keeping them safely stored until sales pick up. Warehouses are a great option if you’re wanting to store products for an open-ended amount of time.
What is a Fulfillment Center?
1. The Layout of Fulfillment Center
While fulfillment centers can act as warehouses, warehouses cannot carry out the tasks of a fulfillment center. Like warehouses, fulfillment centers are typically large buildings with the capacity to store inventory. However, while warehouses are great for storing products long-term, fulfillment centers typically store products for shorter amounts of time as they also act as distributors. They’re known as 3PL (third party logistics) providers, as they work with retailers, e-commerce companies, corporations, and more to fulfill orders for customers. If you walk into a fulfillment center, you’ll find it to be bustling with activity as they process, pack, and ship orders to customers. They’re often equipped with the latest technology to handle the variety of services they provide.
2. The Usage of Fulfillment Centers
Fulfillment centers process orders, manage inventory and organize transportation for businesses. The main goal of a fulfillment center is to decrease the amount of time between order and fulfillment. They’re a great way to have products delivered to customers in the shortest amount of time possible and to limit points of error when orchestrating multiple moving parts between manufacturing and fulfillment.
Warehouses or Fulfillment Centers?
Now that we’ve illustrated what identifies a warehouse from a fulfillment center, it’s time to decide which would be best suited for your business’s needs.
The Differences Between Warehouses and Fulfillment Centers
- Warehouses can store long-term while fulfillment centers offer short-term storage.
- Warehouses don’t cater to external customers while serving external customers is the primary focus of fulfillment centers.
- Individual companies or businesses often use a warehouse, while fulfillment centers offer their services to multiple merchants at once.
As previously mentioned, a warehouse is not equipped to carry out the duties of a fulfillment center.
Choose A Fulfillment Center If Your Business Needs:
- Product pickup for individual customer orders
- Gathering and brief-storing of inventory
- Order packing
- Facilitation of customer exchanges and returns
- Coordination with the courier to guarantee prioritized shipping methods
Warehouses store products to be used at a later date, while fulfillment centers house products briefly, pick and pack orders, and make sure they get into the hands of your customers in a timely matter. Customer satisfaction is the key to any eCommerce merchant. If you’re looking for a reliable, efficient, and fast way to get your products into the hands of your customers, Raven Force Couriers can help. As your one-stop facility to house, fulfill, and deliver your products, they can help grow your business and increase customer loyalty.