A good Warehouse Management System (WMS) can be the key to a business’ success or failure. In a recent study released by UPS avid online shoppers now make more than half their purchases with e-commerce. These days, customers want to shop online, on their smart phones and in stores. Consumers are skilled at finding deals. They want to get sales event alerts and receive coupons by email and text message.
Even well established companies like Wal-Mart are struggling to capture their portion of the market. Businesses need to respond to the changing needs of tech savvy customers while taking advantage of that same technology to streamline their business model.
So how do you pick a system that’s just right for your ecommerce, distribution or fulfillment warehouse?
Third party systems are plentiful and can usually customize their product to fit your needs. Some do shipping and receiving well but don’t work within the company’s own workflows. Others might do order fulfillment well but not offer an app for smartphones, increasing mobility.
Warehouse Management Systems competing for your business should offer most, if not all of these important management tools:
- Inventory Management
- Shipping Management
- Order fulfillment
- Productivity Dashboards
- API Integration for Shopping Carts
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
- Carrier Integration
- Cross Docking
- 3PL Billing
- Accounting Management
- Barcode / RFID Scanning
- Inventory Management/Cycle Count
- Primary Location Picking
- Receiving & Putaway
- Customer Returns
- Email alerts
- Mobile apps
- Live 24/7 Customer Service
A well executed WMS should save you and your customers time and money while adding to your bottom line. At the same time, it should streamline your process in order to eliminate waste and inaccuracies.
When considering the cost to implement the new system, it’s important to have cutting edge technology; a good system should last more than just a few years. But you also need to keep your return on investment in mind.
In order to invest in a WMS up front, it needs to reduce your expenses over time. Productivity should go up when tasks don’t have to be repeated because of human error. No more wasted time looking for misplaced stock. User friendly systems reduce training costs. Communication errors are reduced through a centralized communication hub.
IT support is crucial, especially if you don’t have an on-site IT department. The system should be easy to use, but when something does go wrong, you need a quick response time. Customers should never know there was a problem.
Customization means that you can choose a system that fits your business now and that will allow your business to grow organically in the future. As your business grows and changes, your system should be able to grow and change with it.
Flexibility is important because your business is unique. The system should be able to accommodate your special needs and wishes.
A warehouse management system that can quickly and easily be integrated into your existing system is non-negotiable. Markets move at the speed of technology. Companies that don’t respond to the changes in business will be out of business.
Also, keep in mind that smartphone apps can simplify the inventory tracking process. Imagine being able to track your inventory in real time from the palm of your hand.
The right WMS for you is the one that creates a seamless experience from beginning to end, for you, your employees, and your customers.