What is a Warehouse?

wiseGEEK Writer

A warehouse is a large building where goods are stored, and where they may be catalogued, shipped, or received, depending upon the type. Though in the past, many warehouses, often located in industrial areas sometimes next to major shipping ports, were teeming with workers, the modern warehouse may be either completely or totally automated depending upon how advanced the company is. Sometimes a manufacturing facility also has an attached warehouse, where their manufactured goods are stored until shipped.

A warehouse worker performs shipping, receiving, and packaging duties.
A warehouse worker performs shipping, receiving, and packaging duties.

Warehouses have existed for several centuries, and the word itself is not hard to understand. “Wares” were the things possessed by a seller and to house these in a central location meant your were storing your wares. Normally, though, modern warehouses may store not just the possessions of a single seller or manufacturer, but a host of different products. The principal operation of the place is receiving, getting in new products, and shipping out products already stored. Another important part of maintaining a good warehouse is keeping inventory of what products are presently in the warehouse, what has been shipped and what has been received. This process is again largely automated.

Companies often store goods in a warehouse.
Companies often store goods in a warehouse.

Some companies benefit by having huge storage facilities. For instance if you order something from some of the larger online companies, you’re generally asking them to obtain a product that exists in a huge warehouse. Amazon.com maintains several enormous warehouses devoted to different products. Another modern turn on the warehouse is the Big Box stores, true commercial buildings, like Costco®. These may be called warehouse stores and they do look like mini versions of larger warehouses.

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A warehouse is a building where goods are stored.
A warehouse is a building where goods are stored.

Such stores tend to have concrete floors, and high shelves made of metal with products sold in bulk. Instead of spending a lot of money on merchandising and attractive displays these stores are able to stock more merchandise and can offer consumers much lower prices since they order so much more. However, such stores may also have warehouses from which they draw supplies, or they may need to order supplies from other companies that maintain warehouses.

Warehouse inventory is cataloged so the company knows what is in stock.
Warehouse inventory is cataloged so the company knows what is in stock.

If you live near the storage facility of a manufacturer, you may be able to purchase things for reduced prices. For instance, a bakery might produces all their things on site, and have an on site storage facility, from which these things are shipped. When you go directly to the source of storage, particularly when goods are also manufactured there, you can usually buy things for less because the company does not have to pay anything to ship or merchandise the product elsewhere.

Some warehouses' inventory control may be completely automated, while others keep physical records.
Some warehouses' inventory control may be completely automated, while others keep physical records.

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Discussion Comments

Belinda2014

What is the procedure for importing new vehicles into South Africa, into a bonded warehouse for later distribution within country. Paperwork required, etc., from A-Z?

mcamantigue

Yes I also agree with Lisa. This article tells all about warehousing information.

lisayisp

Love to read here about warehousing shipping services and Some of my doubts are cleared after reading this article. Thank you since I didn't know much about it, but now I know all about warehousing and shipping.

anon263423

@anon53862: JIT is Just in time.

TonyKemp

And to add up some more, these huge storage buildings are not just about storing almost all kinds of items. Commercial warehousing has improved their technology for a better business process and even customer service and they keep on getting bigger and bigger.

anon53862

what is JIT?

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