If you’re selling a temperature-sensitive product, finding the right warehouse to store your inventory can be a challenge. Fortunately, many third-party logistics (3PL) companies offer temperature-controlled warehousing that keeps inventory safe from extreme temperatures and humidity before it gets shipped.
Here is what to consider when selling temperature-sensitive products and what to look for in a temperature-controlled warehouse.
What is temperature-controlled warehousing?
Temperature-controlled warehousing controls and maintains a specific air temperature range by either cooling or heating the warehouse. The range can vary depending on the warehouse provider and location, but it usually tends to fall anywhere between 59 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature-controlled warehousing is ideal for products that may not require refrigeration, but are still sensitive to fluctuating temperatures and/or require a certain temperature range. For temperature-sensitive products, exposure to extreme temperatures may result in reduced shelf life, spoilage, or permanent damage.
4 types of products that may require temperature-controlled warehousing
Depending on the type of product you sell, it can be hard to grasp whether or not it is sensitive to certain temperatures. Some products may also require a temperature range above or below room temperature (e.g., sterile products require colder temperatures). Before choosing a temperature-controlled warehouse to store your inventory, you’ll first want to fully understand what your products are made of and the storage environment it requires.
Here are some of the most common products that require temperature-controlled warehousing.
1. Food and beverage
Food and beverage products that don’t require refrigeration are not necessarily immune to certain environments (e.g., chocolates that can melt in hot temperatures and liquids that can freeze in cold temperatures). If perishable at all, non-refrigerated products are still prone to shelf-life reduction or can go bad completely if exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures.
By fully understanding each ingredient found in your product and how it will respond to certain temperatures will help you decide what type of environment it needs to be stored in.
Depending on the ingredients, most health vitamins and supplements have a storage life of up to two years. But storing supplements in higher temperatures (over 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and/or in an environment with high levels of humidity can shorten the shelf life down to less than six months, which causes the product to go bad in advance of its initial expiration date.
Some makeup products will last longer if stored in a comfortable, ambient temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The shelf life of makeup can vary depending on the cosmetics type (some mascara can last up to three years while lipsticks can last up to five). However, if makeup is stored in a hot environment for too long (especially solid lipsticks that are prone to melting), it may cause permanent damage.
4. Electronics and medical devices
Ever noticed your smartphone’s battery drain faster when exposed to extreme cold? Depending on the grade level (commercial, industrial, or normal), electronics and certain types of medical devices can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. Some medical devices also require colder temperatures to keep them sterile (which may require cold storage or refrigeration rather than temperature-controlled warehousing).
3 services of temperature-controlled warehousing
Some 3PL companies that offer temperature-controlled warehousing also provide additional inventory management and order fulfillment services that can help prevent damage or spoilage of temperature-sensitive products. Here are three services worth considering when choosing the ideal temperature-controlled warehouse.
1. Maintaining internal temperature
The primary service of a temperature-controlled warehouse is storing products in an environment that maintains a consistent temperature. The warehouse is heated or cooled depending on the outdoor temperature, which guarantees protection from fluctuating temperatures that could cause product damage.
For example, a warehouse in Alabama in the summer or a warehouse in Minnesota in the winter would not be ideal for temperature-sensitive products unless their internal temperatures were maintained with temperature control.
2. Climate control
The terms ‘temperature control’ and ‘climate control’ are often used interchangeably, but there is a key difference worth noting. ‘Temperature control’ refers to maintaining a consistent temperature range, while ‘climate control’ refers to maintaining a consistent temperature and controlling humidity levels inside.
Although many warehouses provide both services, if your product requires protection from moisture and high humidity levels, then be sure to ask specifically about climate control capabilities.
3. FIFO (first in, first out)
Making sure inventory isn’t stored for too long can help prevent products from being exposed to ongoing temperature changes, damage, or being shipped out beyond their expiration date. ‘First-in, first-out’ (FIFO) is an inventory management method that makes sure the inventory that’s been on the shelves the longest gets shipped out before inventory that’s arrived more recently.
Along with temperature controlling, many 3PLs follow the FIFO approach to make sure the oldest products are being shipped out first.
3 things to consider when shipping temperature-sensitive products
Storing your products in a temperature-controlled warehouse is one thing, but what about shipping them to their destinations? Here are three things to consider when shipping temperature-sensitive products.
1. Choose appropriate packaging
To maintain a consistent temperature during the shipping process, you may want to consider insulated packaging options that will help protect your shipments from getting too hot or too cold while in transit. Two common types of products that may require insulated packaging are perishable food items and pharmaceutical products that may be harmful if delivered spoiled.
2. Fast shipping
Some 3PLs also offer affordable, fast shipping options. Many ecommerce businesses that sell temperature-sensitive products benefit highly from fast shipping options. Not only does it keep customers happy, but it can significantly reduce the time a package spends in transit, which ultimately helps prevent products from extended exposure to fluctuating temperatures.
“When shipping glass bottles, especially in the winter, the longer the transit time, the more likely it is to break. With ShipBob, we see that our customers are getting their packages safer, with fewer frozen bottles exploding.”
Lindsay Louise, Fulfillment & Retail Manager at Synchro
3. Understand shipping rules and regulations
Some temperature-sensitive products may be subject to certain FDA-certified warehouses or regulations and/or DEA restrictions, especially healthcare-related and/or pharmaceutical products. Major shipping carriers, like UPS, provide specialized shipping solutions specifically for these types of products that may become harmful if exposed to extreme temperatures.
ShipBob: a temperature-controlled 3PL solution
ShipBob is a tech-enabled 3PL that offers temperature- and climate-controlled services for products that require a guaranteed warehouse temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and protection from humidity.
We also offer affordable 2-day shipping options that allow orders to be shipped quickly to their destination to help prevent temperature-sensitive products from extended exposure to fluctuating temperature while in transit.
Learn more about ShipBob’s robust fulfillment network, our proprietary technology, and ecommerce warehousing expertise by clicking the button below.