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The recent spike in eCommerce has prompted many manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to reexamine how they approach their respective supply chains. The elevated demands for better and more efficient inventory management have instigated an increased interest in Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) worldwide. Studies from ABI research show that the international market for WMS solutions will increase by 14 percent annually and exceed $5 billion by 2025.

If you have not explored the benefits of a reliable warehouse management system yet, your competitors undoubtedly have. Organizations that integrate a WMS into their operations can expect several efficiency improvements from the technology. However, before investing in a fully optimized warehouse management solution, business owners should understand what to expect.


What to Expect from a WMS

Warehouse management systems are as numerous and diverse as the businesses that use them. Some companies may only require a basic inventory management system, while others use something that resembles an ERP system and functions as the centerpiece of their supply chain. Irrespective of the type of system you need, a WMS is a big investment. On average, initial costs can run you up to $1500 per month for the first year and $42,000 annually for a perpetual license service.

Once you decide to move forward with a WMS solution, preparing your operators and administrators to get the most out of the system is crucial to maximizing ROI. It’s far too common for companies to invest in an expensive WMS only to benefit from its basic functions. Warehouse and distribution companies frequently rely on their WMS for simple tasks like pallet number logging or reordering inventory when they can achieve so much more. These businesses invariably fail to fully benefit from their investment in a WMS that could otherwise transform their operations completely.


Basic Functions of a WMS

So, what else should your company anticipate from a well-designed WMS solution? When you invest in a warehouse management system, you should expect to gain efficiency through better-streamlined processes essential to your supply chain. Because time is of the essence, the current distribution and retail environments command an aggressive shipping strategy.

The most proven approach to expediting shipping is to increase visibility into your supply chain. Consumer demands for faster shipping have undoubtedly complicated today’s average distribution center environment. Warehouses have to hold more inventory while moving products and goods at a faster pace. A fully optimized WMS must reconcile your available space with the increased inventory level requirements.

An effective WMS should be able to accomplish the following:

  • Control your inventory thresholds
  • Confirm picking and packing metrics
  • Manage shipping and delivery dates
  • Trace inventory movement

Any warehouse management system you implement has to reduce the complexity of your inventory management tasks. A dependable WMS improves your stock-keeping unit (SKU) tracking, improves inventory visibility at your dock doors, and allows you to view inventory and assets across your entire distribution chain.

The one area where WMS falls down is that the system is only as reliable as the data it receives. Staff that is ill-equipped to input key information like asset location, labor productivity numbers, and delivery details, makes it virtually impossible to produce results. This is why adequate personnel training paired with choosing the right WMS for your organization is critical.

Your WMS should be accessible, easy to use, and pertinent for your specific operations. If you implement the wrong WMS for your business, your operations team will be less willing to buy in. To maximize the utility of your WMS, it should be readily understandable and easy to maintain.


Optimizing Your WMS

Among the most appealing aspects of a well-implemented WMS are the inbuilt tools for updating and maintaining the system automatically. WMS providers supply some of the most advanced solutions for optimizing the following:

Transactional management – Your WMS should be able to track and trace how your inventory is changing hands, identifying the specific location of goods in real-time to avert losing items in the supply chain.

Examples of transactional management include:

  • Receiving and storing
  • Order picking
  • Cycle counting/inventory audits
  • Shipping and delivery

Data visualization – WMS technology gives you more insight into your supply chain and lets you organize the information in a comprehendible manner. Average order fulfillment statistics by item, employee, and time of day, allowing you to spot trends and bottlenecks that were unobservable before.

Automated scheduling – Warehouse and distribution centers that simply react to the latest obstacles typically falter. If you are unprepared for a large freight load and have to pivot the minute it arrives at your dock, you’re behind the curve. Accurate shipping and receiving schedules can be integrated with a WMS, drastically reducing dock congestion and wait times.


Choosing the Right Warehouse Management System

A WMS is a significant investment that requires extensive customization and employee training before realizing its benefits. Choosing a WMS can vastly improve operational efficiency, but finding the right match between your team, and your WMS provider is vital. Our team of experts at WiSys can help you get your system off the ground while eliminating many of the several headaches associated with integrating a WMS solution.

To discover how a WiSys WMS solution can boost productivity and reduce costs, reach out to WiSys at 770-955-3550 or fill out our contact form online today.