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What to Look for in a WMS

By david.yarbrough | March 02, 2015 | Blog

When you decide to invest in a Warehouse Management System, you shouldn’t just go with the first one you find. As with any investment, you should do your research and shop around.

While some of WMS have more unique or specialized features, the biggest difference in most of them is in their ability to handle variation in various areas. Think of it like a computer--all computers basically do the same thing. Some computers, though, can handle a wider variety of programs, because of their capacity and flexibility.

Keeping that in mind, here are five things to keep in mind when shopping for a new WMS.

1. How fast is it?

When choosing a WMS, look for the speed at which it can pick and put away items, as this will make a big difference. The system should be able to calculate inventory adjustments quickly so that your employees can always rely on accurate numbers for inventory. This will prevent you from getting too low on certain items before you reorder, and it will also prevent you from having to tell your customers that you’re actually out of a certain item.

You should also check to see how quickly the system will be able to send picked orders to billing so that invoices can be created. Billing procedures are often the most time consuming part of business, but a good WMS can speed that process up.

2. Can it handle non-specificity, as well as special instructions?

Especially if you have a bigger company with multiple warehouses, you’ll want to take a look at the available pick sizes on your WMS. For instance, does it need specific size dimensions, or can it handle labels like each, case, pallet, etc? The more options the WMS has, the less you will have to adjust and the quicker it will be.

While ambiguity can sometimes be a problem for warehouse management systems, so can special instructions. Do you have clients that have specific need for picking, wrapping, or shipping? A system that is equipped to handle things that are out of the norm will keep things running smoothly and quickly.

3. Does it support consolidation?

Quite often people in the same area want the same item, or there might be multiple people on one order. If your system isn’t equipped to deal with consolidation in orders, you might end up shipping multiple boxes when you didn’t need to.

4. Can it be integrated with shipping systems?

A WMS that can’t be integrated with existing shipping systems isn’t worth much. Complete integration can allow for pre printing of shipping labels, making sure those labels are accurate, and can choose the best carrier for each package. These things combined will ensure customer satisfaction, since it will help packages to ship quickly to the right place.

5. How much can it handle?

Your WMS should be capable of handling more than your current needs. This is important for two reasons: first, you don’t want to have to get a whole new WMS each time your business expands; two, business is often seasonal, and though you might have one average for most of the year, that might go up dramatically around the holidays. Having your WMS crash during your peak holiday sales period would not be good.