If you have a small business, you may have wondered if it’s worth it to invest in a warehouse management system. After all, many of the advantages of a warehouse management system seem more suited to bigger businesses like 3PLs, distribution and fulfillment centers that need to keep track of and coordinate inventory across multiple warehouses. However, a warehouse management system can be beneficial for small businesses, too.
- Inventory Management
- Customer & Supplier Management
- Improving Employee Productivity
1. Inventory Management
Just because your business is small doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of inventory to keep track of. While you may not have warehouses full of inventory, you also probably don’t have dozens of employees, either.
Trying to keep all of your inventory organized can be a headache. Not only do you need to remember where everything is, you also have to keep an eye on how much of each product you have, the rate at which it’s selling, and remember to reorder before you run out. Tracking this manually on an excel spreadsheet or a small database can be exhausting, not to mention the possibility of human error in transposing numbers or forgetting to decrement an order from inventory. Not only can a WMS help you with those issues, it can also help you figure out the best way to organize your products so that your employees can find what they’re looking for.
2. Customer & Supplier Management
Keeping track of suppliers and customers in a small business is often difficult, partly because they may have specialized needs that can be hard to remember. A WMS can be programmed so that you can have a database at your fingertips that will remember even the smallest detail for you.
Even if you only have 100 customers or if you have +1,000 suppliers, keeping track of the products they tend to buy or supply, when they buy or deliver those products, and how much they buy or supply, can be an overwhelming prospect. A WMS will track your suppliers and the product quantities on hand at the warehouse, on order from the supplier, along with tracking your customers and their purchases so that you can make sure you order fulfillment process goes smoothly and enough replenishment product is ordered, but not too much.
3. Improving Employee Productivity
Small businesses typically have a limited number of employees, which can make it difficult to keep everything running smoothly. A WMS helps you organize and optimize your inventory flow so that your employees can find products more quickly and easily, letting them spend more time on tasks like great customer service.
Your WMS can also help with managing and scheduling the tasks that your employees need to do through a feature like a dashboard. Rather than employees trying to find out what they should be doing next every day, the WMS can organize your employees so that they always know what they’re supposed to be doing and where they need to go.
No matter the size of your business, a WMS is always going to be a smart choice. While your WMS might entail a small startup cost, it will save you money as your business grows more efficient and productive. If you get a WMS that includes a mobile app, you won’t even need to worry about your system getting outdated, because the app will provide automatic updates.
The one thing you will want to keep in mind when shopping for a warehouse management system for your small business, though, is finding one that will grow with your business. After all, if your business becomes more efficient and productive, you’ll likely need to expand in the future. And that’s a good thing, right?