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What is a Receiving Warehouse?

Kaylin Maples

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When thinking about the fulfillment process, the generalized steps are receiving inventory, storage, order picking, order packing, shipping, delivery, and returns. Any well-established 3PL knows this and makes sure that these steps are optimized. However, the most important step is at the start — it’s the receiving process. For a receiving warehouse, it’s their bread and butter. But, what is a receiving warehouse, and why is the first step in the fulfillment process the most important? 

What is receiving?

Receiving inventory is exactly what it sounds like. When you order new inventory and it’s shipped to your warehouse or 3PL, your product will be loaded in from the receiving dock. From there, your products will be organized and placed on the appropriate shelves within the warehouse. Every fulfillment company will have unique processes and procedures. But, why is it important? 

unloading container

Why is the receiving process the most important step in fulfillment?

Think about receiving products like the inventory’s first impressions. When you meet someone new, you want to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot. This concept can be tied to the receiving process. If your 3PL is not optimized, you can run into inventory shrinkage, increase in backorders, and delayed delivery. All of these issues can leave a bad first impression on your customers. By not optimizing this step, it can cause a chain reaction of mishaps and lost goods. It optimally can make or break a 3PL company. But, receiving warehouses specialize in this matter and can help your inventory stay accurate and up-to-date. 

What is a receiving warehouse? 

A receiving warehouse specializes in the intake of inventory and managing products while on its shelves. By utilizing inventory management, receiving warehouses are able to make sure that inventory is replenished and accurately stocked. And it’s important that receiving warehouses are optimized to ensure that the other processes in the fulfillment process go smoothly. But, what are the benefits to an optimized receiving warehouse? 

Benefits of an optimized receiving warehouse

Inventory shrinkage is inevitable, but a well-oiled receiving process can decrease the chances. How does it help? Think about an order that was sent to the warehouse or 3PL company. What if they left your products sitting on the receiving dock causing items to get damaged over time? What if they left products near open receiving dock doors to face the elements? This would cause your inventory to shrink. Every lost or damaged product ticks your shrinkage rate higher and makes it harder to turn a profit. However, the right procedures, like moving shipments from dock to shelves quickly and creating receiving process checklists, can help avoid inventory shrinkage. And it’s exactly for reasons like these that Red Stag guarantees we will quickly and accurately receive inventory and get it safely on the shelves.

Checking products

Inventory management also improves when your receiving process is optimized. It helps manage your sales predictions. By correctly counting each item that comes in, stored, and leaves the warehouse, your company has the ability to accurately order products. If there is a miscount with your products, your company might think the items are overstocked, understocked, or even out-of-stock, which can cause you to over-order or order nothing at all. This all results in your business not turning a profit. 

The last benefit is inventory inspection. By having the right tools in place when first receiving inventory, an inspection should take place to ensure all products hitting the shelves are free of any damages. If damaged goods aren’t caught at the right time, the chances of your customer receiving those damaged products increase. Finding the damaged goods during the receiving process allows enough time for the warehouse or 3PL to return the item before it even hits the shelves — saving you time and money. 

It’s just one part of the process. 

Like mentioned before, receiving is the most important step in the fulfillment process, but it’s not the only step. For a 3PL to run efficiently, each process needs to be optimized. A full-service fulfillment center needs all of these processes: receiving inventory, storage, order picking, order packing, shipping, delivery, and return processes in order to function properly. 

Why does each process matter? 

Each process in the fulfillment journey is vital to ensure the product reaches the customer safely and accurately. Receiving gets your product in the front door of the warehouse. Storage keeps the product safe while awaiting its purchase. Order picking ensures the correct item is picked and ready to pack. Order packing gives the item the correct tools it needs to withstand the journey from the warehouse to your customer’s front door. Shipping keeps your product going in the right direction. Delivery is the final leg of the product’s journey before reaching your customer. Returns can happen and having the right process in place can make sure the product makes it back to the warehouse and to your business without any issues. 

Your fulfillment partner

For Red Stag Fulfillment, we make sure each process is handled correctly and efficiently. We do the heavy lifting of fulfillment operations so you can focus on achieving goals within your business. We care about each fulfillment process and strive to give exceptional fulfillment services to all of our clients. 

warehouse services

If you’re here to learn more about the receiving process, here are a few blogs that can start your research journey: 

If you’re looking for a 3PL provider, why not contact us? Reach out today to see how you can experience a stress-free eCommerce fulfillment. 


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Red Stag Fulfillment is a 3PL founded by ecommerce operators, and built for scaling businesses.

A team of fulfillment fanatics who care about our clients’ businesses like their own. We see things from our customers’ perspective, and have the guarantees to prove it.

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