Maximizing customer satisfaction and customer services is the key to choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) solution. A top-notch WMS will lead to increased profitability and greater customer satisfaction – all thanks to helping you improve customer services. Companies that don’t utilize a proper WMS (with the necessary functions and capabilities) often struggle with maintaining a stable customer base.
All distribution and wholesale businesses need to manage their inventory one way or another. For startups and small companies, that can be a manual process because their order volume is quite low. But as the business grows, the time comes when investing in a WMS software solution is the next logical step. You should know that a warehouse management system is not a quick fix solution, and it’s more than just a data collection and inventory control system. It’s a system that helps automate your warehousing operations wherever and whenever possible. A good WMS is a tactical execution system that forms an important element of the age strategic business environment.
What to look for in warehouse management system software? If you’re troubled with this question, you should know the most important qualities/capabilities that a WMS needs to have.
Choosing a WMS Software – What to Look For
- Ease of use
If you manage your warehouse operation via easy-to-use software, that means you saved much of your time on employee training. We’re talking about all employees – from the warehouse manager and the warehouse picker. A WMS with a user-friendly interface lets you spend less time setting things up and monitoring daily operations. They can be adapted to new requirements very quickly. New employees can also quickly adapt to using new software, having them up and running in just several hours (instead of days or even weeks).
Clear navigation in a WMS ensures that everyone will be able to leverage its functionalities to the fullest. When deciding on your WMS, you should pay attention to easy-to-follow menus and help screens because they significantly improve usability. For example, make sure that the software allows for simplified data entry and the creation of charts and reports. You should also consider choosing a WMS with a dashboard view that provides single-point access to all of your warehouse’s critical data.
- Maximum functionality
What can your WMS do for you? That’s the most fundamental question you will need to answer. When analyzing the list of your potential WMS platforms, ask yourself whether a WMS streamlines your business and warehouse processes. For example, if your business finds it challenging to measure employee productivity, the right warehouse management software can help you. Your software choice should be able to track all the tasks that each employee has performed, giving you direct insight into your staff’s efficiency. Of course, there are countless other ways in which a warehouse management system can help you achieve more with fewer resources (e.g., optimizing warehouse layout, optimizing stock management, improving order management and speeding up order fulfillment, inventory accuracy, etc.). The point is that it maximizes all the things it can do for you while bringing the work on your end to a minimum.
You cannot grow your company without a scalable WMS solution. The software needs to be able to adapt to meet future requirements. Otherwise, it’s not a long-term solution. How can you find if a WMS solution is scalable or not?
First, find out whether it integrates with the majority of ERPs (or most popular ones). You should find that out because you might switch to another ERP solution once your business grows. It’s essential to know that your WMS will be able to integrate with your potential next ERP system. Next, you should determine if a WMS solution is built around an open architecture because WMS solutions are more likely to work with future operating systems and applications. Furthermore, it should be flexible regarding hardware, which means it should be compatible with other versions of:
- Label printers
- RF scanners and terminals
- Fork truck-mounted RF terminals
If your WMS cannot support barcode scanning, then you’ll be losing much on warehouse efficiency because your team will be a lot slower at picking and packing orders. Flexibility in a WMS is critical because if your company is successful, it will start growing and keep growing. All your investments should be able to grow with it, including your WMS, so check if your potential solution works with other ERPs, hardware types and brands, and business sizes and models.
- Proven track record
How to know if a WMS works? By reaching out to those who are already using it to get real user feedback. As the WMS vendor for a list of customer references, contact them and ask them whether it met their expectations. Ask about how well the software performs, what kind of customer support is there, and how they would rate the support they receive. Visit multiple customer websites and check the sites’ performance in a given setting. Be sure to consider that another company’s needs are probably not the same as yours.
- Complete transaction management
You need a warehouse management system that provides detailed information for everything – employees, products, and transactions – every step of the way. The right WMS will let you manage everything from receiving to manifesting. The following steps are the ones that should be tracked at a minimum:
- Any item movement
- Putting away received items
- Order picking and Shipping
- Cycle counting
From people to movement to products – when you can track all that’s going on in your warehouse, you’ll be able to perform specialized analyses that will help you stock products efficiently and hire smarter.
In this day and age, data and its analysis are crucial, but so is data presentation. Having the metrics that allow you to track your warehouse performance is one thing. Understanding them is something else. To see how well your warehouse operates, you need a good WMS that allows you to create charts and easy-to-read reports easily. For instance, a WMS might track warehouse and employee performance in real-time across different organizational groups. That allows management to compare operational organizations’ performance (west division, east division, etc.) and employee sets (receiving, morning pickers, evening pickers, etc.). You will want to choose a WMS solution that measures each employee’s performance against standards that include accuracy and speed.
Does your WMS solution provide warehouse metrics that you understand and can use? Can you use those metrics to set new business goals? Ask yourself this when looking for WMS software.
- Value for return on investment
When it comes to the total cost of ownership, software price is only a small part of the whole story. The factors you’ll need to weigh when choosing include WMS functionality, flexibility, scalability, customer support, ease of use, integration, etc. At first, the lower upfront cost may seem appealing. However, the software may cost you more in the long run if it cannot meet all your needs as your company continues to develop and grow. It may lead to a plethora of problems, and trying to fix them with costly customization or integration work (to fit requirements) may cost you a lot more.
Looking at the overall value of WMS platforms is crucial. Does the slightly more expensive solution do more of what your business needs? Will it cost you less in the long run (even if the upfront investment is higher than an investment in a frugal, off-the-shelf solution)?
The Final Indicator
The WMS vendor’s overall focus on logistics and warehousing is the final indicator of a WMS solution. Most WMS solutions are available from enterprises that offer various business solution tools that span many requirements and industries. That may enable them to diversify their offering, but on the other hand, it restricts their daily insight into the niche field of warehouse management.
To gauge this commitment, you should track how consistently, extensively, and frequently a particular vendor upgrades its WMS. Are they providing updates and upgrades free of charge? Are they acting quickly to take advantage of changing market trends? Are they proactively asking for customer feedback?
The right WMS needs to be as adept at doing core operations (such as receiving and order picking) to handle more comprehensive solutions (such as exotic IoT number control, truck route/stop management, paperless picking across multiple zones, or manifesting). It will save you money and time while increasing your customer satisfaction. So, before you embark on a WMS implementation, you should be sure that you’ll receive significant business benefits. A WMS system will require some capital investment and involve some running costs. However, the main costs are the commitment, drive, and enthusiasm needed from the whole warehousing team and management to ensure the system is set up, used, and optimized correctly.
3PLs Can Provide the Technology
As delivery time frames accelerate and supply chains become increasingly complex, information has become critical to effective supply chain management. Warehouse efficiency is today (more than ever) a critical factor to effectively managing your supply chain and maximizing performance. With a robust WMS, enterprises can leverage their data and operate more efficiently. A productive warehouse costs less to run, which leaves more resources to spend on growing your brick-and-mortar or eCommerce business.
The best third-party logistics (3PL) companies already have the right technologies and tools in place, giving their customers the benefit of leveraging those technologies to support their supply chain. Since the WMS software is typically integrated with or used alongside warehouse Inventory Management System and Transportation Management System, forming a partnership with a well-equipped 3PL might be the right choice for your business. We at Red Bird Logistics understand that technology and data are at the heart of every resilient supply chain strategy. If you’re looking for a 3PL provider that can help you with your warehousing and supply chain needs, feel free to contact us today!