What Is the Difference Between Warehousing and Fulfillment?

Warehouses and fulfillment centers
December 18, 2020 119 views No Comments
Unless you have experience working with fulfillment and warehousing centers, you may likely think the two offer the same services and benefits. After all, they each have to do with getting customers’ orders on time. While they offer similar services, the two remain quite different. Each option provides businesses with distinct features and options. As a business owner, it’s important to know the difference between the two, so you can correctly approach your shipping and storage needs.

What is a Warehouse?

At the most general level, a warehouse is any place where a business can store its inventory. This refers to a physical building where goods are stored. To picture a warehouse, think of a large building with high ceilings and shelves that are stocked with various goods. Inside of this building, you’ll find employees moving products in and out all day. New inventory will come in to be stored while packages ready to be delivered are removed. Warehouses are essentially large centers where products can be kept for some length of time, whether it’s a few weeks or a few months. Some warehouses may be owned by one business, like a Walmart warehouse, whereas other warehouses provide services to many businesses. Often, these places of storage deal with big orders, storing items until they are ready to be used.

What is a Fulfillment Center?

Just like warehouses, fulfillment centers are locations where businesses can store products and have them shipped out on a daily basis. However, here, businesses likely won’t store their inventory for extended periods. Fulfillment centers generally move out the inventory much quicker than warehouses. Often, they get a shipment of goods, and within the week, the products are being shipped. Their purpose is not to store goods. Rather, they act as an intermediary between a business and a customer. Fulfillment centers play important roles in the operations of B2C, business to customer, businesses. These centers essentially reduce the stresses many businesses have when it comes to managing orders and shipping. For instance, fulfillment centers can take care of all the aspects of managing inventory, handling customers’ orders, shipping products, and even taking care of customer returns. Fulfillment centers act as much more than just a place of storage.

Who Uses a Warehouse vs a Fulfillment Center?

To understand who uses fulfillment and warehousing services, it’s important to understand the needs of businesses. Larger businesses typically have their supply chain nailed down, and they prefer to be more hands-on in all things shipping and inventory management. Looking at warehouses’ primary users, you’re likely to find more of these large businesses. On the other hand of the spectrum, many small businesses like to stick to fulfillment centers. This is typically due to the convenience they offer.  Often, small to medium-sized businesses don’t want to focus too much effort on the packaging, shipping, and the other requirements that come with orders. Rather, these businesses rely on fulfillment centers to take the stresses of inventory management altogether.

Key Differences

As notable by now, the most glaring difference between the services of a warehouse and fulfillment center is the fulfillment of orders. Similar to the services, who the two tend to work with is another major difference. Warehouses provide a perfect place to store large quantities of inventory. They maintain this inventory and ship it when necessary. However, they’re not always shipping to customers. Often, warehouses deal with businesses that sell large quantities of products to other businesses.  These are B2B businesses. Fulfillment centers, in comparison, work directly with customers through engagement. This engagement comes in the form of handling order updates, shipping requests, and requests for returns. They also provide a larger, more thorough suite of services. Thus, fulfillment centers are well-suited to any business that wants a more hands-on partner in the content inventory field.

Summary

Both warehouses and fulfillment centers play key roles in storing inventory and getting products out to clients, whether other businesses or consumers. If you’re a business owner, and you need services for content inventory and shipping, you’ll likely be utilizing one of these two options. However, you have to know what kind of services your business needs to decide which option to go with. When you need more high-quality shipping services, sure to ease the stresses of fulfilling orders, get in touch with Spectra, and request a quote for any service.

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