The benefits of switching to a fully-optimized warehouse management system (or WMS) are undeniable.
An increasing number of retailers are making the switch from attempting to use various autonomous technology solutions for different branches of their company, to using a comprehensive interface that allows them to streamline all of their business needs through one platform.
In fact, Forbes reports that the iconic motorcycle company, Harley Davidson, was recently able to reduce operating costs by $200 million and significantly increase production efficiency by switching over to a fully IoT-enabled plant.
This said… determining which WMS solution to choose for your company can be an intimidating process. It can be difficult to determine which capabilities you actually need for your business and which features you can forego until your business grows to scale. After all, a WMS solution represents a major investment, so you’re not alone in wanting to do a little extra research before taking the leap.
In the spirit of making informed decisions, here are four features every WMS system should have in order to properly support your thriving retail or wholesale business.
#1. Integrates with Your ERP System
Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve can no longer afford to waste time on the unnecessary errors that are an inevitability when your WMS and ERP systems are not integrated. A fully-integrated warehouse management system, on the other hand, reduces data entry mistakes and makes information available across the branches of your operation. This results in faster response times and ultimately creates a more efficient, profitable business.
#2. Provides Real-Time Updates
It is widely known that information silos are the enemy of any business’s agility. Information such as inventory levels and shipping details need to be widely available across all branches of your business. This ensures that your company can respond quickly to any difficulties that arise and be transparent with your customers. With real-time updates, you’ll be able to monitor your business processes as they happen - enabling you to make and communicate better managerial decisions in a fraction of the time.
#3. Inventory Barcode Scanning
Barcoding your inventory is integral to maintaining accurate product counts and it enables your company to ship items to customers more quickly. In addition, when you implement barcoding, your team only has to enter your inventory and customer data one time, which saves you from wasting valuable resources on repeat inventory counts. This way, your warehouse can function without the confusion of trying to share and update information across multiple systems, or of trying to transfer data from paper and spreadsheets.
#4. Automated Order Fulfillment
Customers are the cornerstone of any successful business. As more people gravitate towards companies with omnichannel capabilities, businesses of all sizes need to reduce their shipping times and ensure order accuracy to compete with the major players in ecommerce. An integrated WMS system enables your company to automate workflows by packing orders, shipping orders, and invoicing your customers and contractors automatically. Instead of forcing you to start from scratch with an all new shipping provider, look for a WMS system with the capacity to combine with your existing shipping and 3PL solutions.
When your WMS system is fully automated and integrated with your ERP, you can cut down on time and resources lost in the process of managing and training your employees. Front and back-of-house system integration streamlines all of your business operations onto one single platform, so it’s easy to access and less data is lost in translation. Fewer software solutions also mean less internal errors, resulting in reduced processing costs.
In fact, Herbert Sports found that by integrating their warehouse management system, they were able to save 25 percent in operational man hours.
To keep up with evolving business demands, you need access to a complete picture of your front and back-of-house operations. The capability to adjust and modify your strategy as needed in real time gives your business an unseen advantage over companies who are still trying to create WMS and ERP integrations with pen and paper.
Like it or not, the future of retail is automation.
By being one of the first to adopt an automated WMS strategy, you can be one of the first to start cutting costs and increasing efficiency through total operational integration. Luckily, Brightpearl works with your existing applications to help your business grow to scale in a fraction of the time.
To help you ask the right questions when evaluating WMS and ERP or back office vendors, we’ve created a selection criteria template, which you can request a copy of here.
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