What is a Warehouse Management System (WMS)?
Analytics have changed everything they’ve touched. Logistics and supply chains are no exception. Once a luxury reserved for the biggest businesses, warehouse management systems (WMS) now give businesses of all sizes the ability to understand the data that drives their organizations. Eleets 3PL explores how WMS can help your business.
What WMS Does
WMS is part of the booming Software as a Service (SaaS) industry. Deployment is often platform-agnostic, with many providers offering solutions that work across Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, and Android. Cloud-based solutions provide even more flexibility, giving access from anywhere with internet or a Wi-Fi connection.
Many WMS solutions bundle inventory management, order fulfillment, task management, scheduling, transportation management, and nearly every other point in your supply and distribution chains. Used properly, it allows e-commerce and drop ship businesses to leverage data down to the granular level to improve performance and efficiency.
Key WMS Benefits
Let’s take a closer look at how your business benefits from a good WMS.
Intelligent Labor Allocation: Having a clear picture of ordering patterns by day, hour, and time of year prevents wasted labor costs at slower times, and also keeps you from being caught flat-footed when business spikes.
Better Relationships: Your suppliers, customers, and even employees will benefit from the transparency afforded by a good WMS. You’ll have a bird’s eye view on lead times, delivery times, and order accuracy, allowing for better communications and less stress for everyone involved.
Improved Security: Like it or not, shrink and theft are facts of life. Dealing with high-value or high-risk goods also introduces security concerns. WMS helps you minimize risk and exposure.
Targeted ERP: Like warehouse management, ERP relies on good data to run properly. You won’t waste time, money, and resources on repeat or missed shipments, and can ensure that assets are allocated where and when they’re needed.
Constant Process Optimization: WMS tracks events, but it’s very process-driven. You’ll be able to use the vast amounts of data generated to better understand business processes and continually test, improve, and iterate. That, in turn, can boost your bottom line — especially if, like most e-commerce businesses, your margins leave very little room for error.
Choosing the right WMS suite can take a lot of time and research, and cost is a paramount concern for many businesses. As is common with many SaaS applications, most WMS solutions can be scaled and customized. That has an upside, since you’ll have a suite that can grow with your business. However, it also means that narrowing down a one-size-fits-all pricing guideline is nigh impossible. A bit of research and due diligence will help you find the best provider for your needs and budget.
A corollary to the above: beware cheap solutions. These are often lighter on features, meaning you’ll need to cobble together multiple types of software and keep your fingers crossed that each works with the others through multiple updates, and through the changes that will come to your business. The added money spent on a more robust solution (or simply having someone else handle your e-commerce workflow) will generally result in a cleaner workflow and fewer headaches.
Warehouse Management and 3PL
Once you’ve chosen your warehouse management system, you’ll also need to find the best third party logistics vendor. Eleets 3PL provides end-to-end outsourced logistics and ecommerce services to businesses of all shapes and sizes, helping them manage and scale everything from warehousing and logistics at scale. Contact us today for assistance with your e-commerce and 3PL challenges.