Why working at a distribution center is different than a warehouse

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While distribution centers and warehouses come from the same sector of services, in storage management. They are actually quite different. With both of them providing different services within their niche. However for you to fully understand the differences, you must first know what each of them carry out on a day to day basis.


Warehouses are buildings or structures which store goods. Normally for retail purposes. These goods are kept within the warehouse until the retailer in question needs them, either to stock their shelves or to provide them directly to their customers. You will find that large retailers such as Argos, own their own warehouses, while smaller independent retailers tend to go for a third party experience. This is because for most smaller retailers, the overhead costs of having their own warehouse is not feasible. However the same can be said for larger retail chains. For large retail changes it is not feasible to be paying a third party to store their goods. As they tend to have millions of units of products, which take up a lot of room.

Warehouses tend to only ship to retailers. Rather than to individual customers, which makes their job comparatively easier compared to that of a distribution center. As they can send items in bulk, cutting down costs of individual shipping and wrapping. It also means that, storing the stock is easier for them too. As they only need to separate the goods into which retailers they belong to. Rather than having separate bedding from electrical for each instance.

Working in a warehouse you will find that job roles differ from person to person. Some will be in charge of receiving the goods. These people are relied on to ensure that everything that should be in an order is, and that it is all in working order when it arrives. There are also people in charge of ensuring that all goods are stored safely and correctly. So when the call comes for the goods to be shipped, they know where it is and how to get it. Then there are the people whose job it is to ensure that all orders are fulfilled. These people are in charge of shipping the products out to the retailers. Their main job is to ensure that all the order is there and that it is, shipped out in a timely fashion.

Distribution center:

A distribution center unlike the warehouse, tends to distribute products, rather than storing them for them for a long period of time. You will often find that distribution centers ship to all walks of life. Including retailers and customers. Large companies like Amazon rely on distribution centers, to get their products to their customers in a timely fashion. This can be said about any large online companies who run stores. As they do not have the physical platform to sell their goods.

You will find when working at a distribution center that it has three main areas. Which are the shipping dock, receiving dock and storage area. Each area will have it’s own set of workers who carry out specific duties to that area.

For instance, in the shipping dock, you will find people who distribute the stock they handle. Meaning they pack it, wrap it and send it on it’s way. The people who work within the receiving dock, do just that. They receive all the stock that is sent to the center. This means they have to ensure that everything has arrived and that it has arrive safely and unharmed. If anything is found to be missing after they have received it, then it goes on their heads. The people who work in the storage area, are those in charge of ensuring that goods are kept well. So if the distribution center handles fresh food for instance, then they are in charge of ensuring the food in kept well, does not go off and is stored properly.

 A distribution center layout

If you want to find out more about working in a distribution center, then here are some links for more information.