WMS is one of the best technologies required to reduce risks within your supply chain. It also enables business growth, but to achieve all of this, you need to choose the best vendor to achieve growth in your business. Selecting the best vendor for your WMS needs can be difficult, but we will make the process easier for you.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) refers to a software application used in warehouses to manage day-to-day operations. It assists in gaining inventory visibility and ensuring that the supply chain is being managed properly, which ensures that processes are efficient from distribution until products reach a store’s shelf. Implementing a WMS solution for your business offers plenty of benefits for your business, and these benefits include:
1. Inventory visibility
WMS uses automation which assists warehouses in gaining accurate visibility of their inventory in real-time. Having real visibility of inventory levels leads to making secure estimates about supply, which can lead to avoiding issues such as shortages or having too much stock at hand.
2. Optimizes space
WMS solutions can optimize warehouse space and create strategies that warehouses can use to reduce waste. It can do so through solutions like material rotation such as last-in, first-out(LIFO), first-in, first-out (FIFO) and first-expired, first-out (FEFO). Using the FEFO or FIFO ensures that the product quality is maintained as products do not age out, whereas LIFO ensures that space is maximised and is the most cost-effective method.
3. Maximize labour
WMS can ensure that the right workers are constantly handling the risk task and at the right time. The system considers a worker’s skill levels when choosing who to handle particular tasks daily and when designing tasks. It also considers which employee is closest to the warehouse and the equipment required for the job before choosing the employee to handle the task.
WMS offers plenty of features that assist in handling day-to-day operations, and some of the features you can expect from the system are:
WMS can collect goods from wherever they are stored to fulfil a customer’s order. Picking is the most expensive and time-consuming part of the process where errors are likely to occur. Voice systems and mobile scanning devices are used to decrease mistakes and save time.
Packing refers to when goods that customers ordered are put together to check their quality before they are shipped out. The available data about the order is checked to ensure that the correct type of packing material is used for orders and that it is the right amount.
Counting is an essential feature of WMS as it leads to accurately tracking inventory. WMS contains counting procedures like cycle counting as it ensures that the correct amount of stock is always available.
4. Order allocation
Locating inventory in the warehouse is an essential aspect for the reservation of goods to fulfil orders. Orders may be fulfilled using FEFO, FIFO and LIFO or using criteria such as zone, batch, pack-size and the warehouse.
How to Pick a WMS Vendor
Choosing a WMS will ultimately impact the success of your business, so you must know what to look out for. You must consider your business’s current needs and determine whether they would be able to meet any needs you would have in the future. Here are some of the things that you should look out for.
1. Analyse the vendor’s organisation structure
The way that the vendor’s organisation operates will play a significant role in the success of your warehouse operations. Therefore you need to assess this first. You should look at their structure to determine the kind of solutions they would offer you and the quality provided. Focus on the product lines that they offer. Ideally, they should offer products relating to distribution or supply chain. Choosing a WMS vendor that does not have a clear focus of what their company specialises in could be disastrous for you in the future as they could decide to branch out into something that is not WMS related.
2. Understand their plans
You should aim to understand the vendor’s future plans as they will also affect you. Enquire about any products that they recently bought as this will help you know the direction they are heading towards. Find out if they have developed any new products recently, as this will give you a glimpse of the direction they are headed.
3. What are the vendor’s support and maintenance abilities?
The vendor’s level of support and maintenance helps you understand the products offered currently and where the company is headed in the future. Ask about the number of people involved in supporting their products and whether they are cross-trained on their products. Another crucial aspect you should look out for is whether they provide support 24/7/365 and whether they offer global support, especially if you would like to expand in the future.
4. Conduct reference calls
When searching for a vendor, they will usually present you with references based on what they know about your company. It is important to make calls to references to understand how your situations differ; you should mainly focus on the vendor and not necessarily the product they offer. You should look to gain more information about the kind of support they received and their experience working with the vendor. Aim to gain more references about the vendor from industry peers and your contacts to obtain an unbiased opinion.
5. Understand their industry functionality
WMS has matured over the years, so it is vital to choose a vendor who has tried to develop and improve its functionality within the industry. Understand the kind of functionality that they offer to your industry. Ideally, they should have a published product roadmap that indicates their commitment to creating new solutions within your specific industry. The information that you gain from the vendor during this process will help you determine the direction that they are headed and how this will affect your industry in the future.
6. Assess the vendor’s technical platform
The technology used by a vendor can also determine the direction that they are headed towards. If vendors offer several products that use different technology stacks, this indicates that their products are not well integrated. The same can be said about vendors that still use old technology, enquire about any plans to invest in current solutions and how much will be spent in upgrading to newer technology platforms.
Take a look at the Top 6 WMS KPIs to Keep Track Of.