A warehouse management system (WMS) is, at its core, a tool of optimization, automation, and integration. Although, historically, WMS have been the domain of large and complex distribution networks, this is rapidly changing. Nowadays it is easy for small and medium-sized businesses to harness the advantages of warehouse management systems to better compete in the highly competitive e-commerce marketplace.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a warehouse management system since every business will have different needs based on products, computer systems, and so on. Regardless of the type of WMS you use, however, the advantages it can bring will remain constant.
Benefits of Having a Warehouse Management System
One of the advantages of warehouse management systems is the way they can provide unified and real-time inventory data from a single platform. Without this kind of accuracy, it is easy for distributors to invest more in “safety stock” than they actually need, taking up space that could be otherwise used for more in-demand product. WMS also allow you to define physical locations in the warehouse and establish rules that govern how the system manages product storage. This can lead to more optimal use of available space.
Enhanced Inventory Management
In addition to the above-mentioned reduction of safety stock, a further benefit of warehouse management systems is that they allow for more accurate tracking of stock movement and locations in addition to pure numbers. This type of oversight can enhance inventory management by making it easier to find lost items, set rules for alerts when stock reaches a certain level, and consolidate orders to vendors and suppliers.
Support and Link Information
An advantage of warehouse management systems is how customizable they can be and how integrative they are with different processes. For example, WMS can be obtained that accept data inputs from bar codes, RFID tags, smart scales, and different types of automated equipment, allowing it to collect data and support a host of different functions.
It is hard to describe the full extent that a WMS can support optimizing your warehouse and fulfillment practices simply because there are so many ways it can do so. Choosing the right warehouse management system can easily revolutionize the way your employees work. For instance, a WMS will feature different types of algorithms that can be chosen for picking practices. You can adjust between methods like wave, zone, and batch picking, and further refine your procedures to improve speed and accuracy.
Allocate Labor Efficiently
How you distribute your pick, pack, and putting away tasks throughout the warehouse can influence the way employee manpower is allocated. Much as how a WMS can offer different algorithms for picking, the system can aid in devising the best arrangement of employee resources to avoid unnecessary or wasted effort.
Warehouses are big and see a great deal of foot and wheel traffic as employees and vehicles move about in a constant hum of activity. As your business grows and new stock is added, the flow of traffic can sometimes become jumbled and more prone to delays, bottlenecks, and other inefficiencies that hamper core activities. A benefit of warehouse management systems is the ability to plan out and route activity through the building in order to minimize travel times and reduce potential congestion.
Logical Placement of Goods
By offering an eagle-eye view of warehouse activity, a WMS can let you ensure goods are arranged throughout the site in a logical way that supports employee activity. The easiest example would be to use pick-and-pack procedures. Product must be brought to the packing area, so any time spent retrieving the items and bringing them back can slow down what should be a fluid and efficient process. A WMS can help you arrange space and placement to keep packers’ foot traffic to a minimum and let them spend more time on fulfillment.
Better Supplier Relations
Suppliers love it when they can arrive, drop off your order, and move on to their next shipment. It is therefore annoying when they have to put up with long waits at a loading dock or have to hang around until someone shows up to accept the delivery. WMS helps avoid these unpleasant scenarios through its system of alerts, routing, and shipping management. By helping maintain a smooth experience for incoming deliveries, the warehouse management system will benefit your suppliers too and help strengthen your relationship.
Better Customer Experience
Customer loyalty is hard to earn and easy to lose. Happy customers are repeat customers, but even among long-time patrons, a single bad experience can make them turn away and take their shopping elsewhere. By striving to maintain a high order accuracy—the right product getting to the right customer in the right condition in the right timeframe—an e-commerce business can help preserve and enhance the customer experience, thus building and maintaining loyalty. WMS can help in this by bridging together different elements of the fulfillment process. In some cases it is even possible to link the system to your web site, meaning that any customer orders are automatically entered into the system and processed. Enhancing speed, accuracy, and minimizing costs can make satisfying customers a breeze.
The pace of your return on investment (ROI) from investing in a WMS is impressively short. If you already enjoy the advantages of a warehouse management system and are switching to a new one, ROI can be expected within about three to six months. If you don’t have a WMS and are getting your first, the process will take slightly longer but is still going to be speedy. Most warehouse and logistics operations that make the shift to a WMS can expect a return on investment within a year to 18 months.
Get Optimal Warehouse Management Systems and Services from APS Fulfillment
APS Fulfillment Inc. is a leading e-commerce order fulfillment service company that operates out of Miami, Florida. Our integrative and careful approach will ensure that our clients’ products will get to their destination quickly, affordably, and in top condition. We’ve stored, sorted, delivered, and quality-assured products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies across a wide variety of industries. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or reach out to us by e-mail at [email protected] for more ways our fulfillment services can support your e-commerce business.