Your inventory management abilities can truly make or break your business. With a good handle on your inventory and the operations of your warehouse, you can always be aware of every item coming into and going out of your warehouse, allowing you to track sales and fulfil customer orders more accurately. If you can’t manage your warehouse effectively, however, you run the risk of wasting far more money and time than you need to, as well as losing money and decreasing the morale of your warehouse employees.
With a warehouse management system (WMS), you’ll have a much easier time keeping up with the needs of your warehouse from day to day. You’d be surprised at how much more efficiently your business can run! Here, you’ll learn everything you should know before selecting a WMS for your company.
You might be wondering, “What is a warehouse management system in the first place?” A warehouse management system, sometimes abbreviated as WMS, is a software application designed to help you manage the daily operations of your warehouse.
Your warehouse employees can log onto the software and have one centralized place to go for all their needs throughout the workday, then you as the owner can track what’s been going on and determine how much of any given product you still have in your warehouse. Typically, you can access your warehouse management system from a computer in your office, while your employees will have access to the WMS with handheld devices or tablets they can use as they walk around the warehouse.
What Can My Warehouse Management System Do?
Now that we’ve been able to define warehouse management systems, what exactly can a WMS do for your business? WMS software is all-inclusive and can help bring many of your warehouse’s daily tasks into one convenient location. A few of the most common services you’ll see within warehouse management systems include:
- Receiving goods
- Inventory tracking
- Document preparation
- Picking and shipping assistance
When a shipment arrives at your warehouse, you want to be able to know right away if you’ve received what you ordered, even if you’re not there in person. Your warehouse management system allows you to track orders right as they come in and ensure that you get exactly what you paid for. Then, your system can also help you ensure your order is handled properly as your employees work to place items where they belong within your warehouse.
Of course, even after a shipment has come in and things are proceeding as normal, you always want to keep a close eye on your inventory. Your WMS allows you to do that as well, keeping up with your numbers with just the touch of a button. In an instant, you can see if a product needs to be reordered or if you need to offer promotions to get inventory moved out. Not only does this practice help your warehouse operate smoothly, but it also ensures that you aren’t wasting funds on overstocking or maintaining too much storage space.
Running your business involves a lot of documentation, but it can be time-consuming to compile all the information you need. Your warehouse management system can handle it for you, allowing you to access your documents as soon as you need them and making sure that everything is up to date. This speed and reliability can prove especially beneficial when discussing your operations with your fellow business owners or shareholders.
On that same note, reporting is a crucial part of tracking your business’s success and seeing what processes could stand to be improved. Your warehouse management system can help you analyze your data whenever you need to and track numbers over any given time period. These figures may be able to help you discover which products sell better in which seasons, how much of your warehouse you’re actually using, and how many transactions your employees perform on an average day. All of these insights can help you make more well-informed business decisions to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Finally, depending on whether you follow a LIFO, FIFO, or other accounting models, your WMS can help make sure the right product is being selected at all times. It can also ensure that orders are being picked and shipped in a timely manner and that mistakes are less prevalent than they would be if you were using completely manual processes. At the end of the day, everything that a warehouse management system does is designed to help you achieve peak efficiency and effectiveness within your business.
How Will a Warehouse Management System Help My Supply Chain?
The role of a warehouse management system is multi-faceted. Your WMS can be integrated with other software that you’re already using in your business for maximum efficiency. As soon as raw materials or products come into your warehouse, your WMS goes to work ensuring that order is handled properly.
It will continue to monitor the products as they move around your warehouse, accounting for any item that is categorized differently or packaged up to be sent to a customer. You can even use your WMS to track when an item leaves your warehouse and ensure that it gets where it’s intended to go. From start to finish, your warehouse management system allows you to track the exact whereabouts of your items and learn how those sales impact your business overall.
How to Choose a Good Warehouse Management System
Every business has its own individual needs, but in any case, high-quality warehouse management systems tend to have some things in common. When you’re selecting a WMS for your business, consider the following components:
- Customer needs
- Warehouse size
First and foremost, be sure that your potential WMS will fit into your budget. Keep in mind that you will be saving money and man-hours when you eliminate many of the tedious tasks that your WMS can now handle. WMS costs can vary depending on how complicated the system is and which vendor you choose to purchase from. Find a balance in cost to ensure that your warehouse management system will continue to serve you for years to come as your business grows.
Your customers should always be in the front of your mind, so think about which WMS will allow you to best serve them. If your customers are especially concerned with getting a tracking number the second their item leaves your warehouse, make sure you select a WMS with that capability. To keep your clients satisfied, you’ll want to make sure your inventory numbers are always accurate, so you may opt for a warehouse management system with auto-allocation. Think about the biggest values of your audience and work from there.
Further, different WMS platforms have different functions, so think about which ones are most important in the day-to-day operations of your warehouse. First, consider your industry, as this simple conclusion will help you narrow down your choices right away. Again, think about the needs of your customers, but also consider what functions would best serve your employees. Finally, as we’ve briefly mentioned, make sure your WMS is scalable and can keep up with your company’s increasing needs for years to come.
Finally, consider the size of your warehouse. It should go without saying, but a larger warehouse will need a more detailed and complex system than a smaller warehouse. More products moving through the warehouse and more activities going on each day call for a reliable and smart system to keep up with demand. Tracking can also be especially important if tons of items are moving in and out of your warehouse each day. If you have a smaller warehouse, you may be able to get away with a more basic WMS, but don’t be afraid to invest in a high-quality program if it’s in your budget.
Streamline Your Warehouse Management With DEAR Systems
All of this information is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deciding on a warehouse management system. At DEAR Systems, we understand how complicated it can be to run your warehouse efficiently day in and day out. That’s why we’ve designed a state-of-the-art WMS that can take your productivity to the next level, no matter what industry you’re in.
Our WMS offers tons of incredible features, like guided walk paths to help your employees simplify the picking process, wireless barcode scanning for enhanced productivity and quicker reporting, and alerts on order discrepancy so you can immediately address any issues that might arise. Our software integrates with many of the systems you likely already use, including PayPal, Shopify, Intuit Quickbooks, HubSpot, Amazon, Square, and more.
Our biggest goal when creating our warehouse management system was to design customizable software that could meet the needs of businesses big and small. We believe we’ve gone above and beyond with this goal, and our customers agree! In addition to our WMS software, we also offer solutions for sales, POS, purchasing, B2B portals, and more. Contact us today to start your 14-day free trial!