What is a Public Warehouse?
A public warehouse is an independently-owned warehouse and storage facility that provides short or long-term storage for anyone, including private citizens and SMBs, to house their inventory. Public warehouse companies typically rent space to customers per pallet or per square foot. Public warehouse storage can provide customers with a variety of storage options for their goods, including temperature-controlled storage that manages humidity, refrigeration, or cold storage.
Public warehouses are run individually by the public warehouse company themselves so that the client does not have to worry about the maintenance, construction, or management of the storage site. Public warehouse storage companies house and manage inventory from many different clients, which means that available space fluctuates and is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. While many companies begin using public warehouse storage as a short-term solution, they oftentimes continue to use public warehouses for long-term periods due to the convenience they provide.
Public warehouses are not to be confused with private warehouses. Private warehouses are owned and used by a singular company division, while public warehouses house inventory from many different client companies. Private warehouses cost a company significantly more on the front-end since the company must obtain the land, build the storage building, manage and run the facility, and do routine maintenance to ensure that everything is working smoothly.
There are many different types of warehouses outside of public warehouses. These include private warehouses, smart warehouses, distribution centers, automated warehouses, bonded warehouses, consolidated warehouses, cooperative warehouses, bonded storage centers, and government warehouses, to name a few.
Public Warehouses vs. Fulfillment Centers - What's the Difference
As their name suggests, a fulfillment center is where a company’s orders are filled and shipped to customers as quickly as possible. The connotation behind fulfillment centers is that they only fill and ship orders to customers, and public warehouses only store inventory for a company. However, public warehouses and fulfillment centers can both store and ship products, and you can definitely find a public warehouse that will provide your company with fulfillment services.
How Much do Public Warehousing Companies Cost?
Public warehousing costs can vary based on different factors. First and foremost, the cost will depend on how the warehouse prices and measures the storage space they rent. Storage costs may be determined by square footage used or by pallet. Per our research for 2021, the price per square foot for storage is between $7-$8 (average is $7.91) and around $15 per pallet (average is $14.79).
However, it is important to remember that you are not only paying for the space but also any added benefits and services that the public warehousing company may provide. Picking and packing, inventory tracking and management, shipping services, and climate control can contribute to additional costs in your contract.
Benefits of Using Public Warehouses for Storage & Shipping
There are tons of benefits of using a private warehouse as opposed to another storage option to house and ship your inventory:
• Flexibility – Public warehouses provide flexibility in many different aspects, and one of these is location. You should choose a public warehouse in an ideal area that is best for your business needs. To ensure quick shipping, you can pick a warehouse close to your customer base. If you are using a public warehousing company that has a network of warehouses throughout the country, you can move your goods to another warehouse in a different location if you so choose.
Public warehouses also provide flexibility regarding the amount of space and the duration that you’re going to need to store your products. If business starts booming and you need to keep more product in stock, you can revisit your SLA and upgrade your storage plan to accommodate this growth. However, a good warehouse management system (WMS) will be able to track your growth and anticipate when you might want to upgrade your space. You can also negotiate the length of time in which you will be utilizing the storage space. Most public warehousing companies employ contracts that renew every 30 days, so you can easily renegotiate your contract if the need arises. Also, due to the standard short lengths of these contracts, public warehouses provide flexibility to terminate your contract on short notice.
• Costs – Public warehouses also allow you to save on costs that you might not be able to foot as an SMB. They provide the manpower, technology, and resources needed to run the facility, which is much more cost-effective than building and running your own private warehouse. Maintaining a private warehouse can add up in costs quickly—from acquiring the space, building the warehouse, hiring employees to run the facility, and equipping the correct and best technology. It all adds up. Since the independent company that owns the public warehouse is renting space to many different customers, they can afford the costs needed to run the warehouse, taking that burden off you so that you can focus on running and growing your business.
• Technology – Public warehouses can provide you with the best technology needed to give your business an extra edge that, as an SMB, might not be attainable otherwise. Most public warehousing companies offer inventory control software that allows you to track and manage your product inventory. However, if you already have software that you are using, some public warehousing companies can integrate that software into their technology.
Along with these benefits, public warehousing companies also utilize state-of-the-art organization software and strategies, are fully staffed with dedicated, trained employees, and provide a secure place to store inventory. Overall, it’s safe to say that the ultimate benefit of using a public warehouse facility to store your products is the added freedom they provide you to focus on your business by taking the weight of storage and management off your shoulders.
What Types of Companies Should Use a Public Warehousing Company?
Public warehouses are great for any company that doesn’t want to foot the overhead needed to build their own private warehouse. By utilizing the benefits of a public warehouse, your company can save on the resources and manpower that would be used to run and manage a private company warehouse.
Public warehouses are great for small to medium-sized businesses since they allow you the flexibility to choose the size of space you need and the ideal location to store your stock. It is not ideal for an SMB to build its own private warehouse, so a public warehouse will be your best bet to store, manage, and ship your inventory. Using a public warehouse helps SMBs stay competitive with larger businesses that can afford their own private company warehouses. With the added benefits of inventory tracking and management technology, SMB’s can flourish by taking advantage of the services provided by a public warehousing company.
Other businesses that would benefit from using public warehouse storage are seasonal businesses. Halloween supply stores are a good example of this type of business. These businesses can store their inventory in a public warehouse until it’s time to reopen their physical stores. Since they only have to pay for the public warehouse storage service for the period of time they are actively using it, seasonal businesses can conveniently save on storage costs.
Public warehouse storage is also convenient for businesses that have a problem with overflow inventory. They might have run out of space in their own warehouses and need a place to put the extra inventory. Public warehouses offer the perfect solution for this short-term problem.
What to Look for in a Public Warehouse Space
Since there are so many public warehousing companies out there, you’re going to need to first evaluate what you’re looking for in public warehouse storage and shipping and then seek out a public warehouse facility that matches those needs. To begin this process, there are some important things to consider when looking at public warehousing companies:
- Location – You want to make sure that the public warehouse facility you choose is in the ideal location for your business. To do so, take into account every step in your business’s logistics process. Where is the demand for your product coming from? Are your customers mostly located in an urban or rural area? Due to the growth of eCommerce, demand can generally come from all over the country and even all over the world. It is probably best to choose a public warehouse that is closest to your client base so that you can get the product shipped to your customers faster. However, if you would rather store your inventory closer to the manufacturing plant, you’ll want to look for a public warehouse that is closer to the plant location. Another option may be to find a public warehouse close to your company’s headquarters. You should also look to see if the public warehouse company is a part of a network of warehouses so that you can have the most flexibility when it comes to your storage location and be connected to national or even global supply chain management services.
- Extra Benefits – While, of course, the main goal is to find storage space, you should also look to see what added benefits a public warehouse company might offer. You probably want to find a public warehousing company that also provides shipping, fulfillment, or pick and pack services. Some public warehousing companies provide quality control or inventory reporting and counting. By finding a public warehousing company that can manage each step in the supply chain, you can save costs and ensure customer satisfaction.
- Programing & Technology – Public warehousing companies that utilize their technology as best as they can are able to comprehensively coordinate all the data needed to track and run your inventory so that your main focus can be on running your business. A great public warehouse company should combine the data that goes into the warehouse management system, the order management system, and the transportation management system so that you don’t have to piece together and make sense of each separate chunk of data. By allowing you to look at the data as a whole, you can optimize each step of your logistics process and reduce risks along the way. The data should help you and the public warehousing company predict trends and keep track of shelf space, and it should also be compatible with your ERP system.
- Flexibility – One advantage you might look for in terms of flexibility is the ability to access the facility, staff, and technology on short notice. You should also be proactively thinking about the future of your business and thus making sure you have the ability to expand your storage space and upgrade technology in the future. The public warehousing company that you end up choosing should provide a plan for potential growth in your SLA.
- Company – It is also extremely important that you use a public warehousing provider that you can trust. After all, you’re placing a sizable component of your business’s success in this company’s hands. The public warehousing company you choose should have excellent customer service, the capability to efficiently store your inventory, and provide you with the flexibility and innovation you require.
Like with any purchase, you’re going to want to conduct some research before you commit to a public warehouse space. A smart move would be to tour the facility and see if they have exactly what you want. Talking to team members and management and assessing customer reviews will also help you solidify your decision. It is also highly recommended that you speak with multiple vendors so that you can compare the various options. By looking at multiple companies, you’ll be able to see the differences between various companies and negotiate better pricing due to this knowledge. Of course, we don’t recommend that you make a decision based upon price alone, but rather take into consideration both a company’s capabilities in addition to pricing.
How Warehousingandfulfillment.com Can Help You Find the Best Public Warehouse
While beginning this process may seem daunting, Warehousingandfullfillment.com can help make it much easier on you. We have a very unique approach to finding you the best public warehouse.
First and foremost, all our employees come from the warehousing industry, so you know that we have the thorough background and knowledge that will help you make the most informed decision. We also strive to give the most honest assessments of the warehousing companies in our catalog. We assess many components of each public warehousing company: their capabilities and services, financial backgrounds, and their performance metrics. After evaluating each of these elements, we are able to give you well-informed suggestions as to which company will be the best fit for your business.
Along with our own assessments, we also carefully consider the feedback of customers who have used the services provided by the public warehousing company. By doing so, we get a better idea of the customer experience provided by the warehouses and can thoroughly assess the warehouses in our network. That being said, if we find that a provider does not meet our high standards of service, we remove them from our network.
As you can see, we hold the warehousing companies in our network to a very high standard. We want to confidently connect seekers of public warehouse space to the public warehouse company that best meets their needs. For this reason, it is free for you to get warehouse recommendations. Warehouses pay us a small referral fee so that we can connect them to you, which helps us stay unbiased and allows us to provide this service to you for free.
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FAQ’s about Public Warehousing
Who owns public warehouses?
A public warehouse is a warehouse individually owned by a third-party company and rented out to various clients.
Do public warehouses provide shipping and transportation services?
Yes, some public warehousing companies do provide shipping and transportation services. If this is a service you are interested in, make sure that the public warehouses you’re looking at provide this service and include it in your SLA.
What is an SLA?
An SLA, or service level agreement, is the part of a contract that states the services the company will be providing and how those services are measured. The SLA should also include what remedies the company will provide if the services are not fulfilled the standards of the contract.
What is a 3PL?
A 3PL, or third-party logistics provider, is a company that can help you get your product from the manufacturing stage all the way to the customer. This process can have many steps, and a 3PL can help you manage this process so that it becomes much easier and smoother to get your product to your customers.
Are 3PLs different from public warehouses?
Yes, slightly. 3PLs deal with the many stages of the supply chain process, while public warehouses specialize in storage. However, 3PLs and public warehouses can work together to ensure that your business runs smoothly.
What are pick & pack services?
Picking and packing is a means of fulfilling a more complex order that involves pieces of inventory that may be stored in different locations and need to be pulled individually and packed together. This method of order fulfillment requires different strategies to keep it cost-effective and efficient. It may also require multiple employees and intricate computer software programs and tracking systems to complete smoothly.
Where are public warehouses located?
There are public warehouses located all over the nation and across the globe. A public warehousing company may have a network of public warehouses in various locations across the country that allow you to move your inventory to the location that best suits your needs.
What is a contract warehouse?
A contract warehouse is similar to a public warehouse in that it fulfills a client’s need for inventory storage. However, the difference between contract warehouses and public warehouses is that a single contract warehouse only serves one client and focuses more on long-term storage. The space and costs are usually fixed with contract warehouses, and they don’t offer the same flexibility that public warehouses provide.
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