Top 5 Warehouse Storage Solutions for the Garment Industry

Written by Emily Newton

Warehouses are the backbone of many industries and the garment sector is no exception. Clothing retailers need timely, organized shipments throughout their supply chains, which means having high-functioning warehouses. One of the most critical considerations in achieving that is finding the right warehouse storage solutions.

What type of storage is best depends on the specific situation at hand. Different companies have different products and varying demand cycles, so what is best for one warehouse is only sometimes ideal for another. However, some solutions are generally better than others in this industry. Here are five of the best ones.

1. Pallet-Flow Racking

One of the most common warehouse storage solutions across industries is pallet-flow racking. This system uses wooden or plastic pallets to hold boxes of goods, offering high-density storage, but does not store them statically. Workers load pallets in the back on slanted, wheeled racks, so when others take a pallet from the front, the rest slides forward.

Pallet-flow racking is ideal for first-in/first-out (FIFO) storage as it ensures the first boxes loaded into the rack are the easiest to reach. While that is crucial in goods with short shelf lives, it can also benefit garment businesses.

The fashion industry faces short trends and widely shifting demand, with some cycles lasting just two weeks and a few surpassing 60. The FIFO model offers faster throughput for limited-cycle goods, making it ideal for high seasonality.

2. Drive-In Racking

Drive-in racking is a similar but distinct approach to warehouse storage. This system also uses pallets, but instead of using a linear, flowing racking method, workers remove pallets from the same position as when they store them. As the name implies, these systems also let forklifts drive directly into the racks.

Providing this space makes it easier to move forklifts in and out of the storage area. Forklift collisions are some of the most common racking safety risks, so this design can improve warehouse safety. This system’s deep, high racks also provide impressive storage density, ideal for apparel companies with extensive inventories.

While drive-in solutions do not offer the same FIFO efficiency as pallet-flow racking, they have the capacity advantage of forklift operations. Using forklifts for storage and removal lets warehouses move higher volumes simultaneously, which large fashion companies need.

3. Open Shelving

While pallet-based warehouse storage solutions are the standard in many industries, pallet-less alternatives can be beneficial in some situations. Open shelving offers a more straightforward approach, holding packages or loose products in open-top boxes on simple, open shelves.

The form of organization lets workers place or take products out of storage from virtually any angle. This flexibility enables high productivity and throughput, even with manual methods. The simplicity of these designs is also ideal for warehouses with widely varying product types, as is the case for many apparel companies.

Open shelves are not suitable for heavy products, but most apparel is reasonably light, so that is not often an issue. Having more space around the products also provides airflow to prevent mold and mildew growth and makes it easier to find specific items.

4. Multi-Tier Racking

Garment warehouses with limited floor space may opt for multi-tier racking. These warehouse storage solutions capitalize on vertical space, holding pallet-less products on shelves that stack on top of each other. While each shelf is relatively small, this design enables high storage density for large-volume but lightweight products like clothes.

Expanding and contracting multi-tier racking is easy, thanks to the shelves’ lightweight and modular design. This flexibility is ideal for clothing companies facing high seasonality. It also offers a more cost-effective storage solution for high-volume small items compared to more complex systems.

One disadvantage of multi-tier racking is it relies on manual picking and placing methods. Now that many warehouses are embracing automated picking, these systems may not meet facilities’ future needs. However, they remain a flexible, cost-effective option for smaller warehouses.

5. Wire Partitions

Wire partitions are similarly simplistic but flexible. These systems consist of wire cages that warehouses can stack and organize to form open shelves. The chief advantage here is that it is remarkably scalable.

Warehouses can easily acquire new wire cages and stack them to provide more storage. Similarly, they can tear them down or rearrange them in minimal time to fit varying seasonal demands or shifting stock levels. This flexibility is ideal for garment companies whose inventory size and seasonality may vary widely, as they can easily adjust to changing needs.

Of course, the other side of this adaptability is wire partitions are less sturdy than other options. Like multi-tier racking, they also rely on manual picking methods, which are not always the most efficient. Given today’s rising warehouse costs, they may be an ideal way to expand capacity temporarily.

The Right Warehouse Storage Solution Makes All the Difference

Choosing the right warehouse storage solution will help garment companies reduce ongoing costs, boost productivity and protect their products’ quality. The first step in that process is understanding what is available.

These five storage solutions are some of the best for the apparel industry. Companies can capitalize on these to optimize their warehouse operations, supporting future growth and adaptation.
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