A Definition of Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution that streamlines daily warehouse operations. WMS solutions give managers a central location to manage tasks like inventory tracking. WMS programs may be part of a larger Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, or they may be standalone applications. WMS solutions range from simple to complex and provide warehouse managers with the information needed to control the movement of warehouse materials efficiently.
Benefits of a Warehouse Management System
Warehouse managers use warehouse management systems to control and transfer inventory in a centralized system. Often, warehouse managers access the system on handheld devices or tablets so they can work in the warehouse or at their desk. Many managers point to remote data visibility as a valuable benefit of using a WMS solution. Other benefits of implementing a warehouse management system include
- Accurate inventory counts
- Fewer returns
- Better demand planning
- Transparency and visibility
- Automatic replenishment
- Stock visibility and traceability
- Reduced operational expenses
- Fewer picking errors
- Improved customer service
- Optimized processes
- Efficient labor allocation
Some warehouse management systems aid executives in maximizing the use of their space and their workforce. If you choose a WMS that automates routines for stock rotation and picking, workers will require less space, which will streamline your warehouse and make it more efficient. Indeed, some of the best WMS solutions improve space utilization by reducing safety stock levels and more efficiently locating items via receiving, assembly, packing, and shipping areas.
Warehouse executives who invest in warehouse management systems look for additional return on investment (ROI) opportunities as a result of their investment. More often than not, a WMS solution delivers the ROI warehouse executives and managers expect to see because the program provides the visibility and transparency needed to better manage inventory and reduce safety stock levels; knowing real-time inventory levels leads to reduced lost product and overstocks.
How to Choose a Warehouse Management System
With so many warehouse management system options available today, it can be quite an arduous task to choose one. The first step an organization should take when choosing a WMS is to evaluate your needs and determine which WMS best addresses them. Generally, there are a few criteria that make a WMS worthy of your investment:
- Maximum functionality
- Integration with barcoding technologies
- Real-time inventory updates
- Ease of use
- Scalability to accommodate future growth
- Complete transaction management to track receiving, shipping, putting away received goods, order picking, cycle counting, and moving items
- Support for multiple picking methods
- Back-office integration with order entry, inventory control, and purchase order modules
- Advanced reporting capability
- Automated inventory receipt and put-away
- Commitment to warehousing and logistics
There also are many types of warehouse management systems. The size of the warehouse often determines whether the organization needs a standalone system or a WMS as a module of an ERP system or supply chain management suite. Some software developers also gear their WMS systems toward the industry for which they are intended, so look for a warehouse management system that is tailored to your industry, whether it is eCommerce, retail, or enterprise.
Overall, a quality WMS solution ensures minimal losses in various warehouse processes and enables warehouse managers and staff to know where each product is, when to reorder, and how much to reorder. For this reason, warehouse management systems aid in customer satisfaction efforts because it can help warehouses get products to customers more quickly while avoiding backorders and errors.
Recommended Reading on Warehouse Management Systems
For more information on warehouse management systems, visit the following articles:
- Warehouse Management Systems: Leading Your Facility into the Future
- Warehouse Management Software: The 51 Best Tools and Systems to Improve Warehouse Efficiency, Reduce Overhead and Boost Profits
- The Ultimate Guide to Warehouse Inventory Management: 80 Trusted Resources on Inventory Management Frameworks, Best Practices, Software, Mobility, and Low-Tech Inventory Solutions
- 50 Expert Tips on How to Organized Your Warehouse More Efficiently