A WMS helps businesses optimize order fulfillment, track inventory in real-time and scale for growth. Paul Patin explains the five essential benefits.
If you are reading this blog post, your mid-sized business has likely attained an enviable level of success, but also reached a critical crossroads where your product demand is nearing, or even exceeding, your warehouse’s present capacity to deliver quality service. You have built your fulfillment operation from the ground up—perhaps starting out by selecting orders using paper pick sheets generated directly from e-mail orders or your website. Maybe you are tracking inventory in Excel or Google Docs, a basic packaged inventory tracking system, or an internally developed database like Access. These home-grown processes enable you to deliver excellent customer service for months, even years. When the order volume outgrows your manual processes , the business will not be able to grow without more process automation and accountability in your fulfillment operation.
If your business has expanded beyond the capabilities of your manual processes, implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) will support continued, sustainable growth. WMS is a type of software that helps businesses optimize order fulfillment processes while providing real-time inventory tracking and long-term scalability. Below are five of the many ways a WMS can help your business reach the next level of success.
Five Ways WMS Impacts Business
When starting out, a business’ primary focus is getting orders out the door, not real-time inventory tracking and optimal slotting. Designing most of the processes on the fly, which often means relying on semi-manual batch transaction processing and user knowledge of item locations.
A WMS investment is an opportunity to implement warehousing best practices, such as:
- Fixed location assignments
- Pick face slotting
- Real-time inventory transactions
“If your business has expanded beyond the capabilities of your manual processes, implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) will support continued, sustainable growth.”
– Paul Patin, Vice President of Technology
Businesses that are operating at or near capacity may spend a great deal of time sorting pick sheets by order priority, completing packing list-driven QC audits, or manually creating client storage invoices. A full-featured WMS can automate all of these processes, allowing managers and floor associates to focus on fulfilling orders and growing the business.
In addition, a successful WMS implementation will organize and document the tacit knowledge of the employees who know the business operations best. They can become “super users,” designated associates who maintain and configure WMS processes and focus on configuring more efficient processes rather than enforcing customer requirements.
3. Automated Vendor Compliance
Successfully developing high-volume retail distribution channels, only to have margins further squeezed by vendor chargebacks is frustrating. Retail distribution can help a business grow at breakneck pace, provided they comply with vendors’ complicated routing guides.
Routing guides typically include minimum requirements related to packaging, shipping methods, labeling, and documentation. Top-tier WMS products will include standard vendor compliance modules that automate the generation of labels, packing lists, and shipping documents, which will accelerate vendor certification processes and minimize chargeback losses.
4. Trading Partner Integration
When a business’ internal IT resources struggle to comply with their large trading partners’ EDI-based order submission and shipment confirmation methods, it is time to standardize data formats across all 3PL’s clients. Whether they currently receive orders from an e-commerce order management system, e-mailed spreadsheet, or EDI message, a modern WMS will include a robust integration module that will increase automation of trading partner communications, allowing them to spend more time on fulfillment and growing their business.
5. Centralized Order Fulfillment
Making the original exception processes the norm due to process scaling and QC issues isn’t feasible for a growing business. A full-featured WMS will simplify your order-to-cash process flows by bringing those processes together into one centralized system that can manage:
- Inbound and outbound orders
- 3PL client billing
- Transportation execution
- External system integration
Find out what a WMS can do for your business
Every business is different. Speaking with an experienced warehouse management system consultant could help you sort out your specific requirements and even help you with the vendor selection process. For more information, give us a call at 1-919-346-4544 or contact us today.
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