What Is a Warehouse Management System (WMS)?
If you work in warehousing or logistics, you have probably heard the term 'WMS' mentioned quite often. But what exactly is a WMS? In this blog post, we take a closer look at what a WMS is, what it does and why it is important.
A warehouse management system (WMS) is essentially software designed to help companies manage their warehouse operations. A WMS is used to optimize and automate a variety of warehouse management tasks, such as stocking, order picking and packing, shipping, and more.
So what does a WMS actually do? Let's dive in and take a closer look at what it is and some of the key functions and features of a typical WMS:
- What is a WMS, really?
- Order Management
- Analysis, forecasting & reporting
- Bonus: Your journey towards warehouse automation
1. What is a WMS, really?
WMS (Warehouse Management System) is an indispensable tool for businesses, including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. The platform plays an important role in managing all aspects of inventory and delivery.
In the traditional retail model, logistics work differently and at a slower pace compared to e-commerce. Unlike the former model where large quantities are sent to a few retailers, many e-commerce orders are sent directly to end customers.
Unfortunately, many WMS systems still follow the old model, making it difficult to keep up with the dynamic global market. To remain competitive, you should consider a cloud-based WMS that is specifically tailored to meet your requirements.
Beyond inventory management, a WMS can provide additional benefits such as improved staff performance, support for automation initiatives, better information sharing, and ultimately help you maintain a consistent, superior customer experience.
One of the key functions of a WMS is to help businesses manage their inventory more effectively. A WMS can track stock levels in real time, help identify slow-moving or obsolete items, and provide insights into which products are selling well. You can also link your WMS with other purchase-critical systems.
The Choice: ERP-Plugin or WMS?
Using a plugin that integrates with your online store or ERP can be a quick and easy way to start managing your inventory, but it often has limitations. Basic inventory and stock management may be all that some plugins can handle, which can hinder your efficiency gains.
On the other hand, an enterprise-class WMS offers advanced functionality that supports all inventory processes. While a WMS that offers API integration with leading web shop platforms and ERP may require some setup, it can be just as easy to install as a plugin. By choosing a WMS over a simple plugin, you can unlock the full potential of your warehouse management system and optimize your business.
3. Order Management
A WMS can help companies manage the entire order management process, from receiving orders to picking and packing products and then shipping them to customers. This can help improve efficiency and accuracy and ensure that orders are fulfilled on time and with minimal errors. You can also manage returns in your WMS.
Order Management With Integrated Delivery Planning in WMS
As global supply chains continue to fluctuate, effective order management is essential. Your WMS should be equipped to handle changes and delays in incoming stock and automatically reschedule outgoing deliveries accordingly. This enables proactive communication with customers about delivery times, reducing the number of customer support requests. In addition, an integrated delivery planning system can improve staff efficiency and shorten lead times through advanced picking strategies and cross-docking.
A WMS can also help companies manage their staff more effectively. This includes productivity tracking, monitoring safety, and optimizing scheduling and staffing.
Engaging WMS for e-commerce warehouses
An easy-to-use WMS increases productivity and job satisfaction, especially if staff often perform multiple tasks in the warehouse. High staff turnover and periods of high demand and sales require quick ramp-up and scalability, which can be facilitated by a WMS app that works on familiar devices.
However, the limited functionality of some WMS apps means that WMS with smart features and gamification can improve efficiency, foster team spirit and boost staff morale, resulting in a more engaged and loyal team.
5. Analysis, forecasting & reporting
Finally, a WMS can provide companies with a wealth of data and insights about their warehouse operations. This includes information on inventory levels, order fulfilment rates, worker productivity, and more. With this data, companies can make more informed decisions about their operations and identify areas for improvement - both on the warehouse floor and in the boardroom.
Pierce: Improved Internal Communication and Transparency
Bitlog WMS facilitates effective communication and information sharing. Pierce, an online motocross retailer, installed a digital display at its headquarters to visualize real-time inventory data, including order volume and throughput times. The increased transparency encouraged other teams to use Bitlog to manage various tasks such as product photography, returns and claims management.
6. Bonus: Your Journey Towards Warehouse Automation
Automation is essential for e-commerce businesses to stay competitive, but it doesn't have to be done all at once. Your WMS can help you start small and expand when you're ready.
Automation is not always about robots; your WMS can also help your staff work more intelligently through automated processes. The system's putaway suggestions, voice picking and real-time tracking are WMS features that are relatively easy to implement and can have a significant impact on the efficiency of your warehouse.
Summary: What is a WMS?
We provide an overview of warehouse management systems (WMS) and the importance of the platform for warehouse operations and logistics. A WMS is used to manage warehouse operations, optimize and automate tasks related to inventory management, order picking and packing, shipping, and more. Some important functions and features of a WMS are inventory management, order management, staffing, and analysis, forecasting and reporting. We highlight the benefits of using a WMS that offers advanced functionality, such as API integration with leading web shop platforms and ERP. A WMS can help with warehouse automation and improve staff performance, ultimately leading to a great customer experience.
Curious to know more?
Contact us to find out more about Bitlog, our solutions and how we can help you eliminate mistakes and make your business more efficient and profitable.
The Bitlog Team