When it comes to choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) for your business, it’s important to understand your warehouse needs and the benefits of having an integrated WMS before starting the selection process as not all cloud warehouse management systems are created equal. Choose a Warehouse Management System that fits your business needs and not based on industry hypes.
Whether your goal is to upgrade to a more robust warehousing system or to automate your warehouse operations for the first time, this guide is an ideal resource for finding the right WMS for your business.
When is the “Right” time to choose a Warehouse Management System?
The idea of business systems delivered as a cloud service still feels very new and can be a bit daunting for many companies. Cloud Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are no exception – but don’t wait until your warehouse operations are no longer competitive to evaluate whether you need a new system. Make sure you keep pace with industry trends and technologies.
The availability of new technologies and increased market demands are driving rapid change in many industries. Watch for trends such as rising customer expectations, increased competitive pressure, or dropping margins. Introducing new or improved automation management technology to your warehouse can be a powerful tool for increasing competitiveness in a challenging market.
Today, more than ever, warehouse efficiency is a critical success factor to effectively managing your supply chain and achieving peak performance. Implementation of the latest technologies can significantly improve warehouse operations, employee productivity and customer satisfaction. By installing the right system and realigning how your warehouse interacts with your employees, customers, and vendors, you can streamline your warehouse operations while achieving a high return on investment.
So how do choose a Warehouse Management System that is right for your business?
Firstly, measure your current capabilities. Create an objective plan to assess your warehouse efficiency by conducting a detailed benchmark measuring your current capabilities. The benchmarks can show you how well your warehouse is performing and the areas you may want to improve. If your assessment indicates significant changes are necessary, now is as good a time as any to implement a new system that provides the required functions of your warehouse.
Something else to consider is the benefits of back-office integration. Selecting WMS software that integrates with your accounting system ensures complete control and flow of information between your back-office and warehouse floor. An integrated WMS system can automatically transfer data from your WMS to your accounting database, eliminating manual intervention and transcription errors while providing accurate and up-to-date inventory control.
Look for a smooth running warehouse system that can easily and reliably interface with your financial data—supplying in-depth information across the enterprise. Just as important, an integrated WMS will support your Web order and EDI needs, and send back Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) to notify vendors of incoming shipments.
The next step is to consider the following key areas to enable you to choose a Warehouse Management System that is a best fit for your business.
1) Maximum Functionality
When analysing a WMS system, ask yourself, “Will this WMS streamline our business processes?” There are dozens of other ways in which a cloud WMS can help you do more with fewer resources whilst maximising productivity.
2) Ease of Use
If a WMS is easy to use, it will reduce the amount of time you spend on employee training, for ALL employees, from pickers to senior management. Well-designed cloud warehouse management systems lets users spend less time setting up and monitoring daily operations, so they are able to quickly adapt to new requirements and new employees can also be up and running in a matter of hours, instead of weeks.
3) Transaction Management from start to finish
A good WMS will let you manage everything from door to door, from receiving to manifesting. You want to choose a Warehouse Management System that gives you detailed information for everything like products, employees, and transactions, every step of the way.
At a minimum, the following are some of the steps that should be tracked:
- Putting away received goods
- Order picking
- Cycle counting (inventory audits)
- Any item movement
A cloud WMS solution needs to be able to scale with a company’s growth and adapt to meet future requirements. Otherwise, it’s not a long-term WMS solution. Is the WMS is built around an open architecture? If it is, your WMS is more likely to work with future applications and operating systems (rather than locking you into in a particular platform).
Your WMS should be able to grow with your business. So flexibility is key, check to see if a potential WMS works with many ERPs, hardware brands and types, and business models and sizes.
5) Useful, Easy-to-read Metrics
Data is important, but so is data presentation. It’s all very well having the metrics that help you track performance of your warehouse operations; it’s quite another to be able to understand the data. Good cloud warehouse management systems should allow you to easily create reports and charts that let you see how your warehouse is running.
6) Seamless ERP Integration
Your WMS has to work in tandem with your ERP to keep a business running. That’s why it’s so important that you choose a Warehouse Management System that works with major ERP systems, seamlessly.
7) Proven Track Record
To find out how well a WMS works, you want to get information from the people who have actually used it. Ask for a list of customer references and if possible go and see it in action.
8) Value for ROI
Price is only one small part of total cost of ownership. Functionality, flexibility, integration, scalability, ease of use, customer support and more all come into play. When you choose a Warehouse Management System, you obviously need to weigh these requirements.
9) Commitment to Warehousing and Logistics
A final indicator to ensure you get the right cloud WMS for your business is the vendor’s overall focus on warehousing and logistics. In many cases, cloud warehouse management systems are available from companies that offer business solution tools spanning many industries and requirements. This may enable those vendors to diversify their offerings, but it also restricts their day-to-day insight into the very specific, niche field of warehouse management.
Remember, the right cloud WMS system saves you time and money and ultimately increases your customers’ satisfaction. On the other hand, the wrong WMS can actually damage your customer service and reputation while dragging down productivity, as it drives up costs. Below is a quick recap on what to consider when you choose a Warehouse Management System.
The top 10 Essential Features to look for in a WMS are:-
- Integration with advanced radio-frequency and bar coding technologies.
- Complete back-office integration with Order Entry, Inventory Control, and Purchase Orders modules.
- Scalability to accommodate future business growth.
- Real-time inventory updates.
- Browser-based interface.
- E-commerce capability, including Web store integration and B2B EDI support.
- Advanced reporting capability.
- Support for multiple picking methods.
- Compliance labelling and ASNs.
- Automated inventory receipt and put-away
Before you begin narrowing your list of WMS contenders, it is important to understand the benefits of working with a reseller. Typically, resellers have been through the process many times before and can save you time and effort. They can help you select the right software for your warehouse, install new networks or hardware, and make sure the system is running by your target date.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.