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Understanding the Difference Between a Public Warehouse and Fulfillment Center

September 14, 2021
5 min read
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forklift sitting in warehouse

The terms warehouse and fulfillment center often get used interchangeably. But, are they the same thing? While many people believe that a warehouse is the same as a fulfillment center, they are actually quite different. Below, we define both a warehouse and a fulfillment center to further explain how they differ.

What is a Public Warehouse?

A public warehouse is a large storage area or industrial space that’s intended to hold inventory. Most public warehouses have shelves stacked with large quantities of products as well as heavy-duty equipment like forklifts and moving containers.

On a daily basis, inventory is added to a warehouse, moved to a different location when necessary, and transferred out. While larger e-commerce companies have their own warehouses, smaller ones often lease public warehouse space as doing so is more cost-effective.

Goods can sit in public warehouse space for months or even years depending on the product churn, so it’s not surprising that businesses will sometimes run out of space. Public warehousing is an attractive option in this scenario as space is typically flexible and able to be increased on-demand if it’s available.

What is a Fulfillment Center?

A fulfillment center is where a third-party logistics or 3PL provider fulfills customer orders for (largely) e-commerce companies. Its purpose is to help e-commerce companies with their fulfillment and ensure customers receive their orders as soon as possible.

When an e-commerce company hires a 3PL to handle its fulfillment, its inventory is strategically organized in the 3PL’s fulfillment center. Once an online shopper makes a purchase at their store, the 3PL provider picks the inventory, packs the box, and labels it for shipping.

Fulfillment centers work with all types of companies and can fulfill both B2B and B2C orders. Unlike a warehouse, inventory only sits in a fulfillment center for a short time frame as its main focus is to ship goods to customers quickly.

For this reason, a fulfillment center is typically crowded with workers who are processing, packing, and shipping orders to customers. If you walk into one, you’ll find that there’s a lot more going on than if you were to visit an average public warehouse.

It’s important to understand that while fulfillment centers can serve as warehouses, warehouses don’t typically act as fulfillment centers. As the owner or manager of a product-based entity, you are sure to benefit from a fulfillment center that can get your orders into the hands of your customers faster than you might be able to on your own.

Let Amware Be Your Public Warehouse and Fulfillment Provider

As part of the transportation logistics supply chain, Amware is one of the 3PL’s uniquely designed to provide public warehousing, fulfillment services, and transportation. Whether you just need storage space, or you need your products stored, assembled, and shipped, Amware can do it all. Contact us today to learn more, or for more information on public warehousing, check out our FREE guide below and learn about “The Hidden Costs of Public Warehousing.”

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