Purchasing a new forklift for your back-of-retail warehouse may seem like a straightforward process, but there are many small details that new business owners often overlook. The following guide can help you make the right choice when it comes to adding this useful piece of equipment to your business arsenal.

Tip #1: Size Matters

The mast is the vertical metal bar that holds the actual lift part of the forklift. It's vital that you measure all doors in your warehouse and retail space to make sure the mast fits through these. You also need to check out the stacking or shelf height in the warehouse and on the floor. Not only must the mast fit through the doors, it also must allow the lifts to move high enough to place product in the necessary location. If your shelves are higher than your doors, you will need to either alter the doors or opt for shorter shelves.

Tip #2: Check Your Forks

The forks on the lift are not all created equal. You need to know what you are lifting primarily to make the right choice here. This means checking with your suppliers to verify that they are using standard 48 inch pallets. If they are, you simply need a forklift with basic 42 inch forks. If the pallets are a different size, then you need to choose a forklift with forks slightly shorter than the pallet width, because the forks should never protrude out the other side of the pallet—this can lead to injury or damage to shelving and supplies.

Tip #3: The Right Shoes

Tires also matter on a forklift. For indoor use, such as in a warehouse, solid rubber cushion tires are all you need. There are even white varieties available that won't leave scuffs, which are nice if you use the lift on your retail floor. You will need solid pneumatic tires if your forklift travels on gravel or dirt, such as in a back storage lot.

Tip #4: Fueling Up

You have two main options—combustible fuels or electric. The combustible fuel of choice for most forklifts is diesel, which can only be used outdoors due to the fumes and emissions. Electric forklifts are the only option for indoor use. Electric forklifts require a relatively smooth surface to work best, but you can use them in an outdoor lot during dry weather. As an added benefit, electric forklifts are relatively quiet so work in the warehouse won't be heard on a nearby retail floor.