How to design your retail warehouse layout for your small business?

How to design your retail warehouse layout for your small business?

Warehouse Design Layout

The layout of your small business warehouse directly affects the day-to-day productivity of your fulfillment operations. In order to achieve a smooth daily workflow, the warehouse layout should be designed properly. Otherwise, there will be workers, forklifts and inventory moving up and down in your warehouse.

How to design your retail warehouse layout?

A warehouse layout design always starts with putting it all down on paper. You can start defining the main processes in your warehouse and the basic workflow directions in your warehouse. I suggest paper and pen or a simple excel sheet to draw your warehouse. Below is a sample design.

Warehouse Layout Design for Retailers

7 Functional areas which should be included in your warehouse layout

  • Inbound staging area
  • Outbound shipment area
  • Back-to-back racks
  • Free areas
  • Value added services(Kitting, labeling, printing etc.)
  • Packing desks
  • Damaged product area

The core flows which should be planned in your warehouse design

  • The putaway flow from inbound receiving area to back-to-back racks or free areas
  • The walking path and direction for the pickers
  • The picking path or direction for the forklift drivers
  • The outbound flow for picked orders
  • The movement of returned products to damaged area or inventory
  • The flow of packed and labeled boxes to outbound shipment area

Key Takeaways

  • Draw all possible movements in your warehouse
  • Focus on main paths which will carry most of the movements. Draw them bold.
  • Reserve enough space for forklift movements
  • Always reserve a free area which you can use for multi functions
  • Try to use separate locations for inbound receiving and outbound shipments
  • Reserve first 2 levels of back-to-back racks for pickers.
  • Do not put damaged items and sellable items in the same location. Draw a separate location for damaged items.
  • Think about smaller shelves for small items.
  • Consider using drawers for smaller items which can not be barcoded.


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