Warehouses struggle when processes are slow, inventory is tracked haphazardly and orders pile up unexpectedly. These three major pain points can break morale and profitability. Thankfully, a WMS can address each in ways that help keep you out of the red.
Let’s dive into each and get a little more specific about why a WMS might be right for you:
Time loss due to manual inputs
One of the most painful aspects of an entry-level warehouse is the need to manually enter shipping information, scratch off those product order lists, and recount inventory. Every step takes time and can introduce significant error and inaccuracy. Plus, it’s extremely easy to set down any of these pieces of paper as you move about the warehouse.
Manual entry and document development can also slow down your ability to create shipping labels and other documents, potentially delaying orders and extending your costs.
A WMS can help you address this main pain point by automating a variety of these inputs. The system can turn an order into a pick list, populate everything you need for the shipment documents, and verify items and order status as it moves through your warehouse. Barcode scanning support also introduces an accurate inventory count that is verified throughout your operations. For most, this alone is worth the price.
Lack of inventory accuracy
Inventory losses, whether it’s damage or theft or being misplaced, are a significant financial hit. You must replace stock sooner than expected and lose money because you can’t use these phantom items to fill orders. Misplaced inventory — usually sitting on the wrong shelf toward the back — can be notably worse because it also costs you to store what you aren’t using.
With a WMS, you’re assigning every item to its warehouse location. Each piece is entered into the system when received and put away, scanned again when picked, and then finally verified a third time when it is packed. Continuous inventory counts track from receiving through shipping and can eliminate misplaced products. It’s all about visibility.
Warehouse software also encourages following correct processes, giving you better control and visibility to inventory to reduce costs, waste, and other concerns.
If you’re saving more than $167 per month with this increased accuracy, you’re likely in positive ROI territory for your WMS.
Slow response to demand changes
Your business likely has cycles of demand where you hope to have enough inventory on hand to meet the growth. Often, it’s easy to predict because you’re tied to seasonality or events that happen at a specific time.
For instance, in the U.S., fireworks stands crop up off of highways and major city roads shortly ahead of holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Those vendors know they’ll need to have full stock in the weeks beforehand. Fireworks wholesalers need to increase their available inventory at least a month in advance.
A WMS can help you understand these trends and the timing of where your business fits by tracking historical sales data. As you run your operations and feed more information into the WMS, you’ll gain a better understanding and be better able to predict when demand increases or decreases. It’s especially useful for when trends shift unexpectedly.
Matching your forecasts with lead times and inventories can significantly improve your ability to have the right amount of stock on hand or to increase your resupply orders before you get in trouble and face out-of-stock notices on your site.
About the Author
Geoff Whiting writes for Explore WMS. He is an experienced journalist, writer and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.[contact-form-7]