A warehouse is a large building where goods are stored, and where they may be catalogued, shipped, or received, depending upon the type. Though in the past, many warehouses, often located in industrial areas sometimes next to major shipping ports, were teeming with workers, the modern warehouse may be either completely or totally automated depending upon how advanced the company is. Sometimes a manufacturing facility also has an attached warehouse, where their manufactured goods are stored until shipped.
Warehouses have existed for several centuries, and the word itself is not hard to understand. “Wares” were the things possessed by a seller and to house these in a central location meant your were storing your wares. Normally, though, modern warehouses may store not just the possessions of a single seller or manufacturer, but a host of different products. The principal operation of the place is receiving, getting in new products, and shipping out products already stored. Another important part of maintaining a good warehouse is keeping inventory of what products are presently in the warehouse, what has been shipped and what has been received. This process is again largely automated.
Some companies benefit by having huge storage facilities. For instance if you order something from some of the larger online companies, you’re generally asking them to obtain a product that exists in a huge warehouse. Amazon.com maintains several enormous warehouses devoted to different products. Another modern turn on the warehouse is the Big Box stores, true commercial buildings, like Costco®. These may be called warehouse stores and they do look like mini versions of larger warehouses.
Such stores tend to have concrete floors, and high shelves made of metal with products sold in bulk. Instead of spending a lot of money on merchandising and attractive displays these stores are able to stock more merchandise and can offer consumers much lower prices since they order so much more. However, such stores may also have warehouses from which they draw supplies, or they may need to order supplies from other companies that maintain warehouses.
If you live near the storage facility of a manufacturer, you may be able to purchase things for reduced prices. For instance, a bakery might produces all their things on site, and have an on site storage facility, from which these things are shipped. When you go directly to the source of storage, particularly when goods are also manufactured there, you can usually buy things for less because the company does not have to pay anything to ship or merchandise the product elsewhere.