You’re lucky enough to live in an age when new tools that make it possible for fewer people to do more work are released every day . As recently as the turn of the millennium, handing tedious work — such as updating stock holdings and creating invoices — over to software would’ve been far-fetched. Today, those examples represent a fraction of what is possible with a warehouse management system (WMS).
What is a WMS?
As customized software solutions, WMSs perform two main functions: inventory reporting and warehouse automation. With inventory reporting, we’re talking about the ability to track how many products and materials you have, when they came in, when they go out, and where they reside. All that with minimal input from floor staff. Combine that with the ability to automatically generate invoices and pick-and-pack lists, and you’re a few app installations away from enormous profit increases.
By letting software take care of mindless tasks, your existing warehouse staff can spend more time on high-value projects and problems that need a human touch. In fact, that’s the best indicator of when it makes sense to invest in a WMS — when you’re spending too much time on “caveman” tasks.
Warehouse problems you shouldn’t be dealing with
In an age when computers are reigning champions on Jeopardy!, have you ever wondered why you still pay people to count how many products are sitting on a pallet? We get that question a lot. Our warehouse management system isn’t ready to take over the world, but there are several problems it can eliminate:
- Inaccurate or outdated data on inbound inventory, warehouse stock, and products out on delivery
- Difficulty consolidating information from multiple warehouses into a single report
- Under- or over-stocking materials or products
- Slow and inefficient return processes
- Inability to manage first-in-first-out or last-in-first-out inventory management.
If you run into any of these issues, there shouldn’t be any question in your mind about whether to implement a WMS. But don’t run out and purchase the first solution you find. To answer the “when to implement a WMS” question, you need to answer some internal questions.
Questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a WMS
Imagine an eCommerce website that sells a niche hobby product like boutique handmade furniture. Their inventory is high in quality, but low in volume. They may have a “warehouse” but not at a scale that necessitates a high-tech solution. So after identifying whether the issues your operation is struggling with can be solved by software, evaluate your WMS readiness by answering these questions:
- What features/integrations do you need? If your biggest issues are related to invoicing, a document management system may be the more sensible option.
- How much volume will your WMS handle? The more product you need managed, the more savings a WMS will create.
- What is your budget? The price of your options will change based on the number and complexity of your needs. Slow down and reevaluate your options if you feel like you’re being forced to skimp on a solution.
- Will you give customers access to WMS information? Always finalize any customer-facing features before choosing a specific platform. For example, making “Out of Stock” updates public increases transparency, but may prolong deployment time.
- How much support do you expect from your solution? Software solutions for “caveman” problems shouldn’t break often, but if there are regular changes to materials, storage environments, or other warehouse variables, you may need local WMS support.
After you’ve narrowed down the issues you want to fix and answered some internal questions, it will be a piece of cake to decide when to implement a WMS solution.
Increase efficiency, decrease costs
In your opinion, what made Amazon the largest online retailer in North America? Most people would say two-day shipping. How did they get there? Technology and innovation. As a warehouse operator, there’s no reason you can’t take advantage of the same tools. Contact the Vodigy team today about procuring, deploying, and supporting a WMS solution for your company.