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warehouse and storage in China

For many years, the importance of the warehouse and storage service, as a small link in the logistics links from factory to customer, hasn’t been considered by the international freight forwarders.

Most international freight forwarding companies and their staffs focus on the business with container shipping companies, air cargo companies, consignors and customs. They pay their attention to the price level of sea freight, air freight, customs fee and customs duties. So, the role of warehouse always won’t be taken into account. But in recent years, with the development of international trade and the transition of consuming pattern, people in developed countries and many developing countries have changed their way of shopping from buying a product at a supermarket, convenience store and farmers market to ordering products and services online by using their phones or computers. The way of international trade also changed: from the “factory—trading company—local wholesaler overseas—retailer—customer” pattern to the “factory—online seller—website platform—customer” pattern.

The present pattern is one link less than the former one. Jack Ma, the operator of a network platform, once said their online shopping platform has changed the customer’s shopping pattern. Because they cut out the middlemen—trading company, which can save a lot of unnecessary costs for the customers. Many customers do agree with Jack Ma, because it’s cheaper for them to shop online. In fact, the missing link is replaced by some advanced logistics technology service such as sorting and delivery provided by some large-scale warehouses of a website platform, so the present consuming pattern can work in a high-speed.

In the present consuming pattern, customers buy what they want on the local shopping website or overseas shopping website rather than buy a product from a nearby shop. The international purchasing changed its form from purchasing a consignment of goods by a trading company to ordering small batches of goods separately by many customers, which made a bigger demand for international logistics service.

For the international logistics only need to serve for a few big buyers in former times, but now it needs to serve for numerous online shoppers. And these online shoppers may buy their products from different online shopping platforms. For example, a client who buy household products for his new house, he may buy different products -sofa, curtain, table, stool and kitchenware, etc. from different sellers on If he ships his goods bought from different sellers separately by ordering international air cargo to door services, then the total cost will be at a high price.

To save the freight, we need a transit warehouse for consolidated shipment from different sellers on, and then ship all the goods together to America, Australia, Britain or France, etc. So, in this way, the warehouse and storage service, once ignored by the customers, are becoming more and more important in the international logistics. An increasing number of clients have their demands for a warehouse and storage service. And it also leads to a higher requirement for the types, functions, management ability, facilities, charges and service levels of the warehouse.

We can describe the warehouse used in international logistics in following aspects: the types of the warehouse, the functions of the warehouse, the locations of the warehouse and the services of the warehouse.

The Types of Warehouse

The warehouse can be divided into customs authorized warehouse (bonded warehouse, warehouse of cargo consolidation for less than container shipping, warehouse for air freight and warehouse for postal parcels), refrigerated warehouse, general warehouse for export less than container shipping, transit warehouse (classified storage) for international express service, general warehouse for air freight, warehouse for international freight line, general warehouse for railway cargo transportation, warehouse for international parcels, e-commerce warehouse with order distribution service, warehouse for the freights to Hong Kong, warehouse for the freights from Hong Kong, warehouse for shops and supermarkets, logistics warehouse, warehouse for express service and warehouse for consolidated awkward cargo from

Classified according to two aspects, international freight forwarder and domestic logistics, those warehouses we frequently used are listed above. Why we, an international logistics company, needs to talk about the domestic warehouse.

This is because the location of lots of exported goods is away from a port or an airport. So, while we consider the international logistics, we also need to refer to some things of domestic logistics like pick up the goods from a warehouse and make a transshipment for the goods. And then we need to use the domestic warehouse and storage services frequently.

At the same time, the warehouse services overseas will be used frequently, too. By using different types of warehouses together, then we can complete the whole international logistics process and provide our clients with international cargo transportation to door services.

In the traditional international logistics, no matter for the international freight forwarders or for the seller’s factories, the three types of warehouse which used frequently in daily work are warehouse of cargo consolidation for less than container shipping, customs authorized warehouse for air freight and transit warehouse for full container shipping.

In recent years, with the development of e-commerce, there are more and more e-commerce warehouses with order distribution service and warehouses for international parcels, which has affected the warehouse market. There is no warehouse and storage distribution services provided for the online supplier only before. Shenzhen, Shanghai, Ningbo and Yiwu in China have witnessed a rapid development of this service in recent five years.

The Functions of Warehouse

Goods in different property and nature have different requirements for different warehouses such as refrigerated warehouse, dangerous goods warehouse, chemical warehouse, pharmaceutical warehouse and general warehouse.

For example, different goods stored in a refrigerated warehouse have a different requirement for the warehouse’s temperature: meat need to be stored at a temperature lower than negative 18 degree Celsius, while the vegetables and fruits can be stored at the room temperature. Chemical products have a high requirement for the security of the warehouse. It also has a requirement for the surrounding environment of the warehouse, the warehouse can’t be set up in the residence zone.

The Locations of Warehouse

The location of the warehouse has a big effect on the cost of the import and export goods. The shorter the distance between the warehouse and the exporting port, the lower your cost for a trucking service form the warehouse to a terminal.

The cost for a trucking service will much higher if your warehouse is away from the exporting port. So, when you need to choose a warehouse for your goods, you must make a confirm with your container shipping company (air cargo company or international freight forwarder in China) first where is the shipping port, and then choose the nearest warehouse.

For instance, Shekou Container Terminal, Yantian Port and Chiwan Container Terminal are all located in Shenzhen, but Shekou Container Terminal is located in the west of the city, while Yantian Port is located in the east of the city. The two ports are about 60 kilometers apart from each other, which needs an hour’s drive.

And the trucking fee between the two ports costs about RMB 800. If you choose a wrong exporting port, you need to pay RMB 800 more for the freight. The exporting port is decided by the container shipping company and the place of export customs clearance.

The warehouse provides people with some jobs like loading and unloading, handling, packaging and sorting, which don’t need the highly educated workers.

So, most of the workers in the warehouse are in a low level of education. There is a warehouse management system in some large-scale warehouses only. Other warehouses are all in a small scale, there’s no management system at all, not to mention a high-quality service provided by them for the consumers. There is always a consumer complain about the poor service provided by the warehouse. For example, a deliver driver need to wait in line a day or two to unload his goods;

the warehouse window staffs are having a bad attitude when the drivers deliver the goods to the warehouse and show their waybill to the warehouse staff, and they won’t tell the driver how to put the goods into the warehouse actively, too;

the workers in the warehouse won’t pay attention to the security of the goods when they are unloading the goods, which causes damage to the goods;

the warehouse staff rejects some super-length goods, over-size goods, difficult load and unpacked cargo directly, then need the consumers to pick up the goods back to the origin, which cause a big waste of the consumer’s money and time;

the warehouse staffs are not willing to receive and check the goods which divided into many express packages by a consigner;

there is no value-added services such as repackaging, photo taking, goods checking, cargo inspection, return service and labelling in the warehouse.

It’s not easy for the overseas buyers to find a local warehouse for consolidated shipment and transshipment which has a long-term cooperation with them and can provide them with a reliable and high-quality service in China.