In German, the English term “warehousing” is increasingly being used, which is in it origin language describes warehouse logistics in general. In German-speaking Regions, however, it is usually not used as a pure Anglicism for existing German expressions, but refers to the transfer of warehouse logistics to an external service provider. So when the term “warehousing” is used in German, it may actually refer to the outsourcing of said warehousing.

What is being outsourced?

In warehousing, the external service provider not only provides storage space, but also fulfills all the functions that are required for warehousing. This includes warehouse management, i.e. warehouse administration, using appropriate software or a warehouse management system. This monitors, checks, controls and optimizes all processes taking place in the warehouse, i.e. all processes from goods receipt to goods issue. In addition to the usual processes such as storage, retrieval, picking and possibly also packaging, labeling and distribution, other tasks are also taken over by the external service provider. These include above all

  • Compliance with and implementation of safety measures (for example fire protection and occupational safety) and correct use of safety equipment (PPE).
  • Having sufficient staff for warehousing and qualifying them accordingly
  • Maintain machinery such as industrial trucks.

Why warehousing/outsourcing?

There can be various reasons for outsourcing warehouse logistics. The economic aspect always factors in, of course, but the question of whether it is more cost-effective to operate your own warehouse with everything that goes with it or to regularly pay a service provider for warehousing is not the only decision criterion. The following is a list of some aspects to be considered when deciding for or against warehousing/outsourcing:

  • Occasionally, it is simply a question of overall costs. What is the more favorable solution in a certain time horizon and under what conditions?
  • The necessary investment capital is lacking. The investment costs for your own warehouse, including machinery and personnel, are too high compared to the running costs for warehousing.</li
  • The know-how required to efficiently organize your own warehousing is lacking. This is because warehouse logistics does not achieve a status quo that then only has to be maintained. Instead, like intralogistics in general, it is subject to continuous optimization. Faster throughput times, higher process reliability and more efficient processes with higher safety standards and permanent cost pressure are not just a question of money, but also of expertise and experience.
  • Expanding the product range. For example, if a company introduces a new product that cannot be stored in the existing locations due to its shape, dimensions or weight, or if raw materials and materials are required that cannot be stored in the existing locations, then this inventory must be transferred to an external service provider. The same applies to inventories that have to meet certain storage requirements, such as refrigeration or storage of hazardous materials. An expansion of the product range may therefore make warehousing necessary.
  • Development of new markets. If markets are opened up in other regions and countries, it may not yet be worth maintaining your own warehouse or would involve too much risk. However, operating only a central warehouse in the home region makes it more difficult to tap into new markets. Accordingly, it makes sense to use warehousing/outsourcing in the new region and thus have a decentralized warehouse structure.


In warehousing/outsourcing, an external service provider takes over a company’s warehousing or warehouse logistics. To this end, certain conditions are defined under which the external service provider manages this aspect of the organization. Not only the rooms, i.e. storage areas, are outsourced, but also all processes within the warehouse between goods receipt and goods issue. Warehousing also includes other tasks such as staff training, machine maintenance and compliance with safety measures. The use of the term “warehousing” in German should be distinguished from its meaning in English. There, warehousing stands for the terms storage, warehousing management and warehouse logistics and not exclusively for the transfer of to an external provider. A special form of warehousing is the data warehouse, in which data is outsourced and for which there are also specialized providers.

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