The main difference between shelves and racks is perhaps best reflected in the differing roles played by a retail store and a warehouse. While the operators of each have a need to store goods, items kept in the latter type of facility will normally be handled exclusively by members of the warehouse staff. By contrast, those in a retail outlet are intended to be handled directly by the consumer. Also, in order to promote their sale, these items must be displayed in a manner that is both appealing to the eye and readily accessible to easily transfer to a shopping trolley.
That said, there is a degree of overlap between the possible uses for these alternative storage and display options. In certain sales situations that might apply in the haberdashery, furniture department, or hardware section of a hypermarket, there will often be a need to furnish the store with racks in addition to the usual retail shelving, in order to accommodate large, heavy or awkwardly shaped items securely. For example, the use of racking is by far the best option when it is necessary to accommodate longer items such as bolts of fabric, rolls of carpeting, and lengths of tubing or timber. For reasons of stability and safety, racking is normally secured either to the floor or to a wall.
In the warehouse, making the best possible use of whatever space may be available is invariably as important as ensuring that items can be packed and picked with ease. To achieve this, more often than not, the solution will be to use pallets. Unlike the solid shelves normally preferred for use in a retail store, pallet racks are commonly fitted with mesh shelves while some may have no shelves at all in order to facilitate the use of a forklift.
While these two storage options differ quite visibly in their design, there is a common tendency for both the general public and retailers to use the terms rack and shelf interchangeably. Semantic differences apart, in practice, it is more often some form of shelving that tends to be the storage and display system of choice in the majority of sales outlets. Of the various options available, gondola shelving is the most popular one. Easy to install, they can be configured to accommodate items of different sizes. They are available either as double-sided, freestanding units or as single-sided units that can be wall-mounted, thus maximising the use of floorspace. Once installed, they form the parallel rows of store racks and the aisles between them that, together, serve to streamline the supermarket shopping experience most now take for granted.
If price is an issue, an alternative option might be boltless steel shelving. It may be less visually appealing but it does the job and is simple to assemble, requiring only a rubber mallet and no special skills. That said, making the right choice is important and should be based on probable future needs as well as on current requirements. Selecting a good-quality product is, of course, also important and warrants dealing with a specialist in the field. For world-class shelves and store racks of all types, in both standard and bespoke sizes, Krost is a well-established industry leader.