How to Make the Most of Smaller Warehouse Space

Having a small warehouse when your business is growing rapidly can be a real pain – you don’t want to have to up sticks and move premises, but you are outgrowing the space you have. One of the biggest challenges across warehouses and distribution centres is the lack of space – even if you have a relatively large warehouse, it can still fill up fast. This is also true if you work from home, like me. I had to consider extra space when I moved to Brooklyn in 2020 (which is still the best thing I ever did!). If you operate a business, like I do, or even if you have a large business or are moving into a property with insufficient storage space, you will likely have to invest in warehouse space.

The good news: there are ways you can maximize the space in an easy way so you don’t spend too much on bigger spaces. In fact, a smaller warehouse space or storage unit can work in your favor if you consider our tips below.

Lastly, if you travel often, having a smaller warehouse space is quite beneficial considering you’ll likely be buying a lot of souvenirs.

How to Make the Most of Smaller Warehouse Space

My apartment patio in Brooklyn
Never leave your storage outside!

Optimise shelving

On the shelving you currently have, is there dormant space? Are shelves too far apart, leaving a large gap above the types of crates or boxes that you typically store on them? If you have adjustable shelving, make the necessary adjustments to waste the bare minimum of space on each shelf – remember, forklifts and pickers will typically slide out the goods they need so they do not need to be able to access the contents of boxes and crates while they are in situ. You could gain an extra shelf across your entire warehouse shelving and racking, making more of the space and equipment that you have already invested in.

Grow upwards

Many warehouses have vast, unused space despite a crammed floor. This is because, often, warehouses are built with very high ceilings, and tenants or owners simply do not use the vertical space they have. Use industrial shelving and racking to reach higher up into the roof and, if necessary, think about platform lifts, cherry pickers or forklifts with a greater ability to accommodate them.

Photo 20141681 / Warehouse © Pwrmac |

Reduce aisles

Are your aisles currently quite broad? Moving racking units closer together can be a great way of fitting more in – if you institute a one-way policy around your warehouse then you do not need to allow for people, forklifts or pallet trucks to pass each other, meaning you can save a lot of space. Just ensure that there is sufficient room for your forklift to load the shelving (if you use one), otherwise you might end up with knocked-over shelving and racking and damaged stock.

Build a second floor

For some sites, building a mezzanine floor is a great solution. You might not want to use the space up there for typical warehouse use – there may be logistics and weight issues to contend with – but you could move staff areas, managers’ offices and supervisors’ areas up to a mezzanine and use the space you’ve created on the main floor for more racking.

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Improve throughput

This may be a lot simpler to write than to do in practice, but improving your warehouse throughput is one of the best ways to save space. Are you storing goods long term with very little demand? Consider reducing the stock and replacing it with fast-moving items. Similarly, make sure that you are not overstocking high-volume goods by too much – use accurate consumer data and seasonal expectations to store only slightly more than you need at any given point. It’s one of the best ways to make the most of smaller warehouse space.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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