Guide to a Selective Pallet Racking System

Guide to a Selective Pallet Racking System

Are you preparing to build a new warehouse racking system, or upgrade an existing one? Either way, you’ll have plenty of solutions to choose from.  If you want to keep things simple, start with the most popular option. The most common pallet storage racking type in the world is a selective pallet racking system.

This is an affordable option for those with low-volume storage needs. The setup creates a low pallet storage capacity but also features the lowest cost per square meter of racking.

However, if you’re used to handling high-volume storage of 3,000 pallets or more, costs can add up.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at selective racking so you can determine if it’s the right layout for your needs.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Determining Storage Requirements

To select the right type of storage appropriate for your warehouse needs, start by researching the answers to these five questions:

  • How much floor space do I currently have?
  • How many products do I need to store?
  • What is my ceiling height?
  • What is my overall budget?
  • How often will I require access to the pallets?

Your perfect system will depend on how you answered those questions. If you decided a selective pallet rack fits the bill, read on as we discuss specifics.

Components of a Selective Rack System

This kind of racking system consists of both uprights and beams.

Uprights, also called frames, include two posts: horizontal and diagonal struts designed for bracing, as well as footplates. Beams fit into the holes punched along the frames. These holes can look different from one manufacturer to the next and are available in myriad different styles.

In most cases, selective racks are used with wire decks. However, you can also choose to use crossbars/pallet supports or even grating for heavier-duty loads.

You’ll find selective racking systems in bolted or welded frame configurations. While both are durable and made of steel, they each allow users to access and rearrange pallets as needed.


Most selective racking is only one pallet deep, though some models are available as double-deep systems. Single-deep is preferable, as it allows easier forklift access.

A common layout is to place one rack in a single row. However, installing two racks back-to-back is ideal for companies that offer a wider variety of products.

The only time double-deep works best for this setup is when you offer a large number of limited products. In this case, you could store two pallets deep, though keep in mind that it will limit forklift access.

Storing and Picking Method

Selective pallet racking is designed around a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method of inventory management.

This means that the items entered into the system first are also removed first. The opposite method is Last-In-First-Out (LIFO), which requires employees to remove newer items before they can access older inventory. The FIFO method is especially helpful for time-sensitive, perishable SKUs or those with a short shelf life, including:

  • Fresh or frozen food
  • Beverages
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Sterile medical supplies
  • High-volume consumer goods
  • Batteries
  • Any other product with an expiration date

A FIFO system increases operational efficiency, maximizes available warehouse space, and keeps products fresh. It also minimizes the risk of expirations, which can lead to inventory write-offs.

Following the FIFO method, selective racking provides employees access to every item in storage. This makes it ideal for companies that have highly differentiated product lines and low turnover volume.

Aisle Width Considerations

As with other pallet racking types, aisle width is a major consideration when installing a selective pallet racking system. This is because it plays a direct role in storage capacity.

Depending on the type of pallet handling equipment you use, your storage capacity can range from 35% to 75%. Keep in mind that even if your warehouse has narrow aisles, that doesn’t always translate into lower storage costs.

Rather, these tight spaces can increase the likelihood of human error, leaving a narrow margin for mistakes. As a result, handlers often take more time to do their jobs, which can outweigh any benefits you gained from the greater storage.

Pros and Cons of Selective Pallet Racks

Though they can benefit certain operations, selective pallet racks aren’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at a few of their advantages and drawbacks.


You can experience the following pros when you install this kind of system in your warehouse.

  • 100% access to all pallets
  • FIFO inventory management system
  • Ability to easily change the storage mix
  • Inexpensive type of racking (based on costs per square meter)
  • Quick access to a large range of SKUs
  • Ability to support more than one truck the same aisle
  • No unique truck requirements
  • Lower pallet handling or forklift costs
  • Front-loaded, meaning floor level isn’t critical


Before you sign on the dotted line and make a final decision, also keep in mind the following cons:

  • Lower storage density than pushback or drive-in racks
  • Limited storage height
  • Requires an aisle for every row
  • Unsuitable for high-volume applications with limited SKUs
  • Requires large warehouse space for a large stock volume
  • High storage costs for volumes that are medium and higher in scale
  • Longer loading and unloading times for limited lines

The last bullet describes the time required to place the same stock on different individual rack heights or widths.

Prepare for Your Selective Pallet Racking System

Now that you know more about the design, are you ready to invest in a selective pallet racking system for your warehouse?

If so, you’ll need to know your measurements, first. Calculate the exact size of your pallets and products, along with the available square footage in your warehouse. Also familiarize yourself with ancillary facility components, including ceilings, columns, and sprinkler systems, as these are also critical to successful warehouse design.

Need a little help as you move forward? That’s where we come in.

Contact us today for a professional pallet rack consultation. We’ll connect you with the parts and people you need to succeed.