May 26, 2022

Small Vs. Large Business Warehousing-What Is The Difference?

While there are many obvious and not-so-obvious differences between small and large businesses, one area where the two can often be compared is warehousing. In this post, we take a look at some of the key distinctions between warehousing for small vs. large businesses. 

Which option is better for your business? That depends on a variety of factors, but we hope to provide you with a good starting point to make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn more!

7 Differences Between Small Vs. Large Business Warehousing

The notion that small businesses and large businesses differ in their warehousing solutions is not new. The two companies have always had different inventory management and storage approaches. Small businesses tend to be more hands-on with their inventory, while large companies typically outsource their warehousing needs.

There are, however, some key differences between the way small businesses and large businesses approach warehousing. Here are a few of the most notable ones:

1. Scale

One of the most significant differences between small and large businesses regarding warehousing is scale. Small companies don't have the same volume of inventory as large businesses. This means that they don't need as much space to store their goods, and they don't need as many warehouse employees to manage their inventory.

Related: What Is A Manufacturing Warehouse?

2. Cost

Another key difference is cost. Small businesses typically have a smaller budget for their warehousing needs than large businesses. This means that they often have to be more creative in their storage and inventory management approach. For example, small businesses may use less expensive storage methods such as pallet racks instead of more costly options like mezzanines.

3. Flexibility

Large businesses typically have particular requirements for their inventory management and storage. This can make them inflexible regarding changes in demand or other factors. On the other hand, small businesses are often much more flexible in their approach to warehousing. This allows them to adapt quickly to changes in the market or their inventory needs.

4. Customer Service

Finally, small businesses typically place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses. This means they are more likely to offer things like same-day shipping or other value-added services. On the other hand, large companies may be more focused on reducing costs and not be as concerned with providing excellent customer service.

5. Shipment Schedule

Larger businesses typically schedule shipments 6 to 8 months ahead of time. They place orders with international suppliers, bring in significant cargo, and define the shipper's business. Smaller businesses particularly require "just in time" delivery. This helps them keep prices down because they aren't paying for stuff that isn't moving yet. If your large customers demand more physical space, you may adapt with different rack systems and stacked crates.

6. Organization

A large company that ships to customers will have a well-organized process to handle order selection, shipment, and probable returns. It will be up to you to ship the merchandise in suitable containers and be ready to deal with consumer concerns at the warehouse. When sending B to B, you may have more flexibility regarding how the products are presented. The opposite is true for small firms. The core of their customer connections is their shipment to clients. 

Smaller businesses have a better chance of making that relationship visible through the warehouse.

7. Workforce

Larger companies with more goods have to assemble a team of workers who all have a role in getting the items out the door. Because the quantity is greater and shipments are scheduled, this is the case. Despite the additional workers on the line, dividing your staff into pickers, loaders, forklift operators, and exporters, for example, is likely to boost efficiency in terms of time and money. On the other hand, small business teams are more personal, with only a few individuals on the job who are aware of the complete plan and status at all times during the packing and shipping process.


Overall, there are fundamental differences between small and large business warehousing solutions. Small businesses typically have less space and fewer employees, but they are also more flexible and often provide better customer service. Large companies usually have more space and more employees, but they can be inflexible and may not offer the same level of customer service. Ultimately, the best approach for your business will depend on your specific needs and requirements.

Recommended: 3 Tips to Choosing the Best Warehouse Solution as a Small Business

Our newsletter

Get great curated articles every week.

Combine sections from Ollie's vast component library and create beautiful, detailed pages.