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What is a Warehouse Management System? (Part 2 of 2)

Read Part One of this two-part series here.

We’ve discussed how important it is that the operations within your warehouse (or your fulfillment service’s warehouse) are running efficiently and without snags. WMS programs are important – and sometimes complex – because they rely on a number of different technologies in order to provide an accurate and high level view of warehouse operations.

These technologies include:

  • AIDC products (automatic identification and data collection) like bar-codes and bar-code scanners.
  • Radio frequency identification technology and radio frequency data collection (RF/DC)
  • Secure internet connections to provide data to the warehouse and company.
  • Electronic data interchange to share purchase orders, invoices and other essential pieces of information.
  • Automated material handling devices such as storage and retrieval systems, carousels or conveyers.

When all of these components work together, a company can get the insight it needs to ensure efficiencies and accuracy in their warehouse operations.

Why Do Companies Seek Out WMS programs?

Warehouse management systems provide a level of control for companies, and can have a positive impact on revenue growth. Although the investment up front in time and expense can be significant, WMS programs can offer number of different benefits, including these:

  • WMS programs reduce the likelihood of lost inventory, stolen inventory and excessive carrying costs which all lead to inventory savings.
  • WMS programs eliminate the need for multiple office workers managing a paper-based inventory management system.
  • WMS programs reduce the need for material-handling equipment which can cut down overall expenses and equipment maintenance costs.
  • WMS programs can help companies use their warehouses more efficiently, which can save on space and related costs.
  • WMS programs can improve customer service ratings and experiences. With more accurate shipping and fulfillment processes, there’s a reduction in returns and chargebacks.

Who Needs a Warehouse Management System?

Not all warehouses need warehouse management systems. Smaller operations can get by with ERP or supply chain management tools. But for some companies having a WMS system with a flexible location system and built-in integration with data collection devices is essential.

However, if you’re relying on a product fulfillment company to receive, package and ship your items from your ecommerce store, you won’t have a need for a WMS program. You will, however, benefit from a fulfillment service that relies on a warehouse management system.

As an ecommerce retailer, your goal is to ensure the smoothest possible pathway from your customer’s order on your website to their receipt of the product at their home. When you put the bulk of that path in the hands of a fulfillment service, you need to be sure that they are doing everything that they can to reduce inefficiencies and control costs. A warehouse management system will help them do just that.

Warehouse management systems can enable fulfillment services to do what they do better, and your company can benefit as a result. As part of your fulfillment services selection process, be sure to ask about their warehouse management system. What kind of insight can they offer into their product fulfillment process? Look for a fulfillment service that relies on WMS technology in order to make a smooth transition between order and delivery.

January 15, 2015
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