From accurate inventory counting to appropriate return on investment, these are some of the things to consider when choosing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) for your logistics business.
In a country like Australia, with its big distances, widely-dispersed population, and dependence on international supply chains, the management of inventory, shipping and customer care can be complex, expensive and time-consuming.
With this in mind, e-commerce companies and third-party logistics (3PL) operators need warehouse management systems (WMS) that can cope with a vast range of variables, successfully merge with their existing management organisation, and offer a good return on investment.
So what should you look for in a warehouse management system? Let’s take a gander at some of the key elements you should take into consideration, and how to ensure that the WMS that you choose is the right one for your business.
The Benefits of an Effective WMS
As e-commerce continues its upward trend worldwide, the importance of efficient and robust warehouse management is becoming increasingly vital.
This is especially true in Australia, where many of the components and raw materials that go into products manufactured here need to be sourced from overseas. And with supply chains still being disrupted by the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, stock control and distribution logistics are a constantly changing (and sometimes unpredictable) landscape.
So effectively managing the inventory, shipping and customer care for your 3PL clients requires a WMS that can work on the fly and accommodate changes and fluctuations in real-time.
Here are some of the potential benefits of an efficient WMS:
- Fewer picking errors
- Remote data visibility
- Accurate reporting and inventory counts
- Effective and efficient labour management
- Improved stock visibility and traceability
- Fewer returns and greater customer satisfaction
- A minimum of physical paperwork
- Automatic stock replenishment
Finding your way to better warehouse management
Before you embark on a new warehouse management system, you need to be really certain that it's going to achieve significant benefits for your business. These systems need capital investment and do involve running costs.
However, the main cost that you will encounter is in making sure that the drive, commitment and enthusiasm from your warehouse team and management staff will ensure that the system is set up correctly, used properly and regularly updated.
Warehouse Management Systems are not quick-fix solutions. But they are systems that help automate and monitor your warehousing operations so that you can deliver the best possible service to your 3Pl clients
How Do I Shortlist Potential WMS Providers?
Implementing a WMS is a tactical decision that not only needs to target your 3PL company’s specific requirements for automating your warehousing and distribution systems. It also needs to offer a good return on investment (ROI). There’s no point in investing in a system that does not function exactly as you need it to.
These are the steps you can take to evaluate different WMS systems in order to determine which one will work best for your business.
Evaluate the ROI
This process is important because it will help you to set a budget and to focus on the functional aspects of a WMS that are must-haves. The more daily transactions that your company has, the greater the potential ROI will be for you.
This is especially true if your warehouse currently uses a lot of equipment and needs lots of staff. An effective WMS may help reduce your overheads, a significant factor to consider.
Choose a process that suits your situation
Warehouse Management Systems need to be highly configurable in order to slot into your existing systems and to cope with future changes in demand, logistics and customer numbers.
Look for a system that includes end-to-end 3PL management. Your new WMS should include complete visibility across all of its operations. This includes:
- Future and past tracking of stock movements (Exel and paper-based systems struggle with this)
- Can it track movements across multiple warehouses and be customizable to locate different zones and bins within your facilities?
- Will it seamlessly manage UOMs of different stock types, and track the position of products within your warehouse
- Can it handle staff allocation?
- Will it incorporate an effective Traffic Management System (TMS) within the overall WMS?
Analyse your existing system
Have a critical look at your current WMS. Does it measure up to your requirements and will it cope with future changes? These are important factors to consider, especially if you can see significant growth on the horizon and need to plan accordingly.
Remember, although WMS platforms are designed to be implemented reasonably quickly, your staff will need time to be trained and your infrastructure may need to be altered to cope with the new system.
Check out the nuts and bolts
During your search for the best WMS, if pays to have a look “under the hood” (so to speak) to check that the system will be able to cope with, and adapt to, your specific business.
A good WMS should offer lots of complexity in the background (to ensure it can cope with all of your processes) but be ultra-simple to use on the front end. This is especially important when it comes to staff training and ease-of-use. Your staff are busy people so you’ll need to make sure that they can learn the new system easily and operate it without causing excessive drama.
These are a few of the things you should look for:
- Is it mobile-friendly? Most of our day-to-day interactions are done on the small screen these days. So make sure that the WMS you choose operates flawlessly on mobiles.
- Is the dashboard customizable? You want your WMS to look good, be uncluttered and be a pleasure to use.
- Does the Customer Login Portal not only look great but is simple to use and the input data flows seamlessly into the WMS.
Evaluate the development capabilities of the vendor
Check out the development history of the software your WMS provider has. Does their system support ongoing development and can this be done without adversely affecting your day-to-day operations?
As Ferris Bueller rightly said: “life moves pretty fast.” And so does warehousing technology. So your chosen WMS has to be able to move with the times and keep up with changes in the fast-moving world of logistics, supply and demand.
Get Ahead of the Pack With the Best WMS
Your 3PL business is the best in the game. At least, it can be if you choose the best WMS package. With optimised pick and pack workflows, seamless software integration and real-time stock and inventory level tracking, TransVirtual’s WMS package offers state-of-the-art solutions for your 3PL business.
Our Warehouse Management System offers seamless end-to-end 3PL management, operates extremely well on mobiles, and combines a robust Traffic Management System with full tracking of products from purchase to sales flow. Your crew will love it and your customers will be blown away by your efficient and reliable service!
So get in touch with our team and join the thousands of companies who are delivering better service to their customers with TransVirtual.