top 10 reasons to have a wms


Steve Hunyar – Chief Solutions Office/EDGE

Your problems managing your inventory are causing issues meeting your delivery objectives in both accuracy and schedule. Or, your operating costs in your warehouse are too high for a myriad of reasons. As a result your searching for ways to improve your warehouse operations.

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) will go miles toward solving the majority of your warehousing problems.  Below are ten reasons to invest in a WMS. These are not in any priority since every company executive, warehouse manager, IT professional, etc., has different pain issues and thresholds when it comes to managing your supply chain.

1. Improved Customer Service

Whether it’s manufacturing, B2B, or B2C, your WMS will increase customer satisfaction due to much higher levels of delivery accuracy, as well as, greatly improved delivery times.  99% shipping accuracy may seem high, but that’s 10,000 errors out of a million shipments.  Your goal should be higher than 99.9%.  A properly implemented WMS will get you there.

2. Inventory Visibility, Location Accuracy, and Aggregate Quantities

Know what you have, exactly where you have it, and how much you have at all times.  How much time (money) do you spend answering questions of what, where, and how much?  A WMS provides real-time information and eliminates the incessant searches, making it easy to fulfill orders and customer expectations.

3. Optimized Inventory Locations Within Your Warehouse/Stockroom

A WMS will optimize your inventory, putting the right product in the most appropriate storage locations, while simultaneously increasing storage density and space utilization.  For example, it will designate the highest demand products in the most accessible high-velocity locations.  As a result, you can expect a 15-25% increase in storage capacity, or conversely, a reduction in required warehouse space.

4. Order Processing Speed

WMS software will dramatically reduce the time required to fill/process your orders.  You can expect a 58% reduction in labor time and costs associated with picking, putaways, cycle counts and more by:

  1. optimizing order processing paths,
  2. automatically assigning orders to employees,
  3. driving your order fulfillment personnel to the correct locations,
  4. real-time processing and updating of your inventory, and
  5. making certain the right products are in the right locations prior to processing your orders.

5. Real-Time and Paperless

A real-time and paperless WMS consists primarily of either Radio Frequency (RF) bar code scanners, tablets, or voice order management headsets.  All of these paperless technologies greatly cut the cost of order processing.  Furthermore, the devices update your inventory quantities in real-time, optimize order pick and put paths, prevent order pickers from fighting over the same inventory, and avoid the pitfalls of using pen and paper – eliminating the keystroke errors (and time) which result from entering data at a computer workstation. 

In addition, these real-time systems are very simple to learn and operate as they drive order processing.  That makes training, particularly of temporary employees, near seamless.  And, if you hire temps to ramp-up during those higher velocity or seasonal product months, these real-time devices become increasingly invaluable.

6. Employee Statistics and Audit Trails

One of the most difficult tasks for any warehouse manager is knowing how well their employees are performing, especially with greater numbers of employees.  A WMS provides stats which allow you to directly assess performance as it relates to order processing speed, as well as, accuracy. These audit trail tools can be used to incentivize employees, and/or hold them accountable.

7. Operational Bottlenecks

Every order fulfillment operation has a bottleneck or two which can be difficult to diagnose without the appropriate data.  A WMS provides the data necessary to identify the bottleneck(s) and help you take the appropriate corrective measures to eliminate/improve them.

8. Host System Interface

Warehouse Management Systems are generally connected to Enterprise Resource Planning systems, financial systems, or Material Resource Planning systems via a host interface. This ensures your business and sales systems are accurate and up-to-date, eliminating disparities between the warehouse and the business system. 

9. Forecasting and Demand

You cannot sell what you do not have.  Whether you distribute product to consumers, other businesses, or to manufacturing, a properly designed and implemented WMS provides data to your financial system that will allow you to better forecast seasonal variations and unexpected product demands. This reduces product shortages and strengthens sales.

10. Major Savings Through A Reduction in Overall Expenses

I hope you have read this far due to the fact that I left the best for last. Items 1-9 above have one common attribute – a reduction in cost.  The cost of order fulfillment, labor costs, space savings, data transfer & management, the precise satisfying of customer demand, and more…  Expect your WMS to make your life easier, while at the same time saving money. 

For the reasons I laid out above, a WMS is an excellent option for improving warehouse operations and getting a handle on your supply chain execution issues. When looking into a solution, your payback period on your investment should not exceed 18 months. In most cases, a turn key system should pay itself off in less than a year in total savings.  From that point forward, it’s all gravy – savings that you can enjoy or use to expand your business.

In addition, your ability to meet customer demand can give you that competitive advantage you have been seeking.