If you are in the e-commerce business, modern software solutions help you keep operations running smoothly and efficiently. This is the reason why a warehouse management system is crucial for businesses in the retail industry.
What is a warehouse management system?
Warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution specifically designed to support the daily operations of a business, such as inventory putaway, picking and packing support, inventory replenishment, etc. WMS also allows users to deliver better service for customers by knowing exactly where every product is, when to re-order, or how much to produce. This makes running a business both efficiently and easily. All in all, users can focus while saving time and money to invest in other areas of business.
What are the types of warehouse management systems?
There are at least four major and most common types of WMS solutions. Each type has its own advantage and disadvantage, thus you need to consider the one that works best for your business.
- A standalone warehouse management system is a typical on-premise system deployed on the native hardware and business network.
- Supply chain modules focus on automating tasks like inventory management, material sourcing, and product cycles. It requires investing in supply chain planning apps that offer warehousing features.
- Solution integrated with enterprise resource planning system (ERP system) includes warehouse management features and offers other ERP functions.
- A cloud-based warehouse management system is hosted on a segregated/private service, offering higher data security advantages for companies that handle higher-value inventory.
See also: Supply Chain Strategic Partnership & Partnership Maintaining
How to build an integrated and efficient warehouse management system?
If you invest in warehouse management software, you can streamline and automate inventory fulfilment processes while also controlling costs. You will also have an improved customer experience as customers can make purchases from anywhere at any time. To reap this benefit, here are some basic steps to build a warehouse management system for your business.
1. Set an expectation
WMS is meant to streamline and make your job easier. Thus, you need to make sure and have some expectations for your future system, such as being user friendly to make an employee’s job easier, eliminating inefficient processes and bad warehouse practices and habits.
2. Risk reduction
Reducing risk is a vital part of WMS implementation. The main objective is to assess the risks that might arise from the implementation and take measures to minimise them. When you use a vendor, the experience of the implementation team within the provider is paramount. The more experienced the provider is, the less project is exposed to unexpected risks.
3. Business review
Business review at the start of the warehouse management project allows both parties to discuss, dissect and understand how the warehouse functions, the needs and requirements of the warehouse. The types of issues that should arise are the disadvantages of the incumbent warehouse management system, risks and expectations. The implementation schedule and process should be built around the business review.
4. Implementation schedule
A flexible, realistic implementation plan allows space and time in the schedule for unforeseen events. This way, you can accommodate unexpected events to not disrupt your WMS building.
5. Team building
To implement a WMS, you need two teams. One is the implementation team and the second is a team of client warehouse executives. Selecting the right team can make a difference between success and failure. You need to find a suitable team that shares the same vision in order to build a successful WMS.
6. Design and customisation
Your WMS will be designed from the aforementioned business review and the existing software is customised to meet client needs. To be successful in this project, you need to minimise customisation that meets industry standards. Once the warehouse system is built, you can make necessary changes in the future. Risks and expectations should be addressed accordingly.
7. Training and data
During design and customisation, you should conduct training to ensure that your team is up to standard for facilitating the transition from one warehouse management system to another. Although user training is a time-consuming process, the success of the implementation depends greatly on the ability of the users to handle the new system.
8. Testing and deployment
Testing is usually performed using real warehouse data comparing the results of warehouse process execution in both systems. Different warehousing scenarios should be tested and bugs are fixed by the warehouse management system supplier. After testing, the implementation of the WMS reaches its critical stage in the deployment on an agreed date.
Working with a new system often reveals issues that were not addressed during implementation. Therefore, support is an important last step of a successful project. The complexity of a warehouse management system project demands solutions to problems that arise during operation. You should at least provide intense support during the first month of the deployment to ensure your team and the new system is working side-by-side.
Read also: How to Find the Right Digital Manufacturing for Your Supply Chain