Many entrepreneurs start off running their businesses from a spare room, but if you are successful, your venture will eventually need more space to grow and prosper. Online businesses are a very popular business model. It’s easy to start selling goods online and in the early days, you won’t need too much storage space for inventory. However, as time goes on and you expand your inventory, warehouse facilities will become a priority. Since a custom-designed warehouse that exactly fits your requirements is unlikely to be available, it will probably be necessary to plan a fit-out once you have found a unit in the right location.
It is very important that you don’t rush the planning stage. Before a fit-out, a warehouse is basically a blank canvas: four walls and a roof. What you do with that space very much depends on the type of business you run and how fast you expect the business to grow. Consider whether the warehouse is scalable. If the answer is “no”, it might be a good idea for long for a space that is.
Electrics, Lighting, Heating, and Plumbing
Start with the basics before you move on to mezzanine floors and storage. Electrics, heating, plumbing,and lighting may already be pre-installed, but if this is a new building, you might have some input into what goes where.
Natural light is often in short supply in warehouses, but if you get the opportunity, add skylights and windows. These will introduce more natural light and ventilation, which is a bonus in hot weather. LED lighting is better in any workplace environment, as it will reduce your carbon footprint and be low-maintenance. You may also need task lighting in packing areas and security lighting for the exterior of the building. Look online for some excellent examples of industrial and commercial lighting.
In terms of plumbing, think about how many restrooms and kitchens you need. In a small warehouse, two toilets and one small kitchen area will be sufficient but bear in mind that the more employees you have on-site, the more bathrooms you will need to provide.
Heating and air-conditioning are also important. It is unreasonable to expect employees to work in temperature extremes.
The main job of a warehouse is often to provide storage for inventory. Think carefully about the type of storage racking you need. Maximise use of vertical space and make sure the space between storage racks is adequate for machinery and people to move through the building safely and efficiently.
You will likely need dedicated packing areas. These should be well-lit and close to the building exit, so parcels can be loaded and unloaded more efficiently. The efficiency and productivity of a warehouse are heavily dependent on an intuitive workflow. Make it easy for employees to pick stock and progress through the packing area, or you could end up with unnecessary delays.
Lastly, consider whether you will need a mezzanine floor for administration and employee rest areas. If you don’t intend on fitting one now, make sure it is an option in the future.