What is a warehouse management system?
Every eCommerce / eFulfilment business, retailer, wholesaler and warehouse has some method of controlling and managing stock movement, starting with procurement and ending with successful delivery to the client. This in essence is a warehouse management system – but how do you know when you need a WMS?
No business can survive the demands of the 21st century with just pen and paper, and even computer spreadsheets will only serve the most basic needs of a business. Therefore, most online businesses and warehouses have some IT system in place to help optimise all their warehouse processes.
Warehouse Management System (WMS) software provides you with all the tools and operational information for the most efficient end-to-end warehouse operations in the most cost-effective way.
- automates all routine procedures;
- accurately assesses, monitors, and streamlines physical processes such as receiving, putaway, labelling, movement, and dispatch;
- controls and tracks inventory;
- simplifies and expedites single, bulk, or wave picking, and dispatch;
- processes orders, invoices, client communication, and deliveries;
- tracks and manages resources; and provides real-time management information and reports.
- Functionalities such as yard operations and vehicle movements can be added.
What is a warehouse?
Any commercial space used for storage and distribution of goods as part of the supply chain, whether a garage for small online businesses or multi-acre buildings, is termed a warehouse. In essence, this is the heart of any business.
Who uses a WMS?
Any business, large or small, that has inventory moving through a warehouse needs a warehouse management system to ensure all their information is up to date and accurate, and to move goods through the warehouse effectively.
The more complex the business and stock-offering become, the more it needs a specialised WMS to help the business survive and grow.
While it is possible to control stock at a basic level through an ERP system or spreadsheets, your enterprise cannot survive in the competitive market without a dedicated WMS that optimises every aspect of the business and provides you with secure real-time information anywhere, at any time, from a smart device.
What are the signs that you need a WMS such as ProWMS or ProSKU SaaS?
These are some common questions you might want to ask yourself, to help identify if you need a WMS:
Your business has outgrown your warehouse management system
Does your current system still meet all the demands of your market?
- Can you instantly locate or track a stock item, or do you first have to find the items because they are not where they are supposed to be?
- Can you meet an order in full within the time expected by clients?
- Are your stock levels adjusted automatically, with flags if you need to order more so you are not caught off-guard when new orders come in?
- Does your WMS integrate with all your other software systems?
- Are invoices issued automatically, or do you have to spend valuable time doing it manually?
- Are payment procedures automated, or do you have to check bank statements and issue receipts?
- Can you easily schedule receipts, storage, movement, and delivery of stock to maximise the flow of goods through the warehouse?
- Is delivery pickup automated, or do you have to arrange each one separately?
Is your business competitive enough?
Compare your sales figures and profit margins with your competitors. If you are not outperforming them, is it because your business procedures are too cumbersome or old-fashioned?
Do you suffer stock losses and damage?
Unless you have absolute control over stock received, stored, moved, sold, etc. you can easily become a victim of pilfering.
Add the functionality of digital scanners and automated updates on the system and you will know exactly where each item is at any given moment.
Software that organises and optimises warehouse storage space and movement of stock, with proper procedures for moving, minimises loss and damage.
Are your overheads too high?
Inefficiencies in terms of time spent; warehouse space wasted or incorrectly utilised; wasted labour; unnecessary costs to produce invoices, client communication, arranging delivery or transport, etc. can drastically reduce your effectiveness and profitability.
An automated system that provides comprehensive real-time management information and reports will enable you to optimise all your resources and conduct operations most cost-effectively.
Can you effectively measure and optimise staff productivity?
Do staff have to walk for long distances, or around the warehouse to pick stock items? Do they have to wait for resources such as forklifts or ladders? Do they have to wait for someone else to bring something to them, or wait for authorisation for stock movement? Do they spend a lot of time on unproductive activities that can be automated? Can you measure where more or less supervision is required?
A good WMS can help you solve all these challenges and to determine if policies need to be adapted.
With a modular WMS, you can also help identify staff training needs, schedule and monitor training programmes and progress.
You can view productivity on your dashboard through digital inputs, minimise time spent finding and moving stock, and easily identify areas of delay or time and resource wastage.
How good are your client communication and relations?
When customers trust a business and feel important when they buy something from you, they remain loyal and spread the word.
Automated confirmation and invoicing of the order through a WMS, regular updates, and sign-off on delivery go a long way towards building this trust relationship and take no extra time.
In summary, if your costs are higher than you should expect, and you have gaps in knowledge of the status of stock or sales you should consider upgrading or replacing your WMS.
What do you need in a new WMS?
Scalability and adaptability
A new WMS should be able to meet all your current needs, as well as future needs.
Don’t pay for something you don’t need, but ensure you have the capacity instantly available when you need it.
Your WMS should be able to cope with sudden changes, expansion, and entering new markets.
ProWMS and ProSKU Cloud WMS are modular systems that can be scaled up or down as your business grows, or to cope with seasonal demands.
You can select the modules you require and add or subtract when your requirements change. All modules are constantly updated, which means you always have access to the latest features and technology.
Integration with existing systems
It should not be necessary to spend a huge amount of money to replace what you already have. Ensure the WMS software you purchase can seamlessly integrate with all your existing systems.
ProWMS and ProSKU SaaS supports and fully integrates with a very wide selection of platforms, middleware, and related software, such as your accounting systems, sales systems, carrier systems, ERP, interfaces, digital equipment, etc.
We will help you design and configure a bespoke solution for your company, incorporating all existing systems and planning for future scenarios and market trends.
Easy and secure access to data anywhere at any time
Modern business practices require much more than an 8-5 working day and important business decisions often need to be taken when you are away from the office, making it essential that you can access up-to-the-minute information at all times
Your WMS should enable you to securely access real-time data from anywhere, at any time, from a smart device. All data and full reports should be accessible from a single platform.
Group or individual access to the system
It is not unusual to have telephone or video conferences with other stakeholders or managers and if required, they should be able to access the same dashboard as you.
Other staff require access to various levels of the system to carry out their tasks. Your WMS should provide a user-friendly interface with clear and simple touch screens or digital code readers.
Your digital database should be safeguarded against hacking, information theft, and data loss for its entire life cycle.
It is expensive to keep upgrading security software. ProWMS and ProSKU Cloud stores all your data in the cloud, with several layers of security and backed up on several secure servers to protect it from physical damage or any other form of loss.
The latest security software is used and updated all the time to also protect our integrity as a SaaS Supplier, ensuring you benefit from the latest security measures.
It is essential that the WMS supplier becomes your business partner and shares the same vision and attaches the same value to your management efficiency and business success.
They need to partner with you and provide internal training for your staff. They need to constantly advise on improvements to your system and ensure it functions properly at all times, with no downtime.
They should be able to fully supply exactly the services you require, provide an acceptable timeline for implementation, and do thorough testing, and training to make optimum use of the system.
There are many offerings of what pretends to be WMS. Do not be tempted by low costs and high promises. Choose a service provider with a trustworthy reputation, solid product, and hands-on service.
Is a WMS worth it?
You should do a cost/benefit analysis before you decide to invest in a WMS.
Take into account the huge saving on:
- Time, labour, and administrative costs,
- effectively allocating and maximising resources,
- improving efficiency and productivity,
- speeding up inventory turnover,
- eliminating time and money wasted on miscounting or misplacing stock;
- integrating shipping and carrier services,
- interchanging and verifying data with trading partners,
- reducing returns because of incorrect picking,
- automating the handling of returns and refunds,
- improving customer relations and enhancing your reputation,
- saving on stock losses,
- balancing inventory and reducing unnecessary stock,
- increasing sales,
- eliminating downtime, and
- improving service levels throughout the supply chain.
ProSKU Software as a service (SaaS) makes it unnecessary to invest in expensive hardware or to maintain an internal IT department, potentially accomplishing huge savings.
Also consider the benefit of accurate and up-to-date information in making business decisions, and being able to retrieve that information 24/7.
Streamlined operations and optimised resources will make it that much easier and cheaper to expand your business or enter into different markets.
How much is the professional support, data security at all levels, virtually unlimited data storage space, and continuous access to the latest technology worth?
The bottom line is, without a solid WMS, your business cannot grow and might not even survive.
Act today and book a ProSKU WMS Cloud demo!