“When it comes to choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) for your business, it’s important to understand your warehouse needs and the benefits of having an integrated WMS before starting the selection process.”

Whether your goal is to automate your warehouse operations for the first time or to upgrade to a more robust warehousing system, this article will guide you in finding the right WMS solution.

The 5 wrong steps

Given below are five common mistakes people make when choosing a warehouse management system

Not doing enough homework.

Analyzing and then selecting a warehouse management system takes time and effort. Information is critical to selecting the most appropriate system for your organisation. You’re already a step ahead of most people because you’re reading this article.

Misunderstanding the benefits of automation Automating warehouse operations and related functions can save your organisation considerable time and money. However, if you don’t improve your current processes and ways of interfacing with RF-based hardware, shipping systems, and warehouse equipment, automating your system will not deliver the full return on investment you require. Ignoring hard-to-quantify benefits

It is difficult to calculate possible future gains such as increased productivity, better warehouse efficiency, improved customer service, and other factors after a new system has been successfully implemented. Remember, these types of benefits can dramatically improve your bottom line and should not be overlooked.

Passing the buck

Top management and other key personnel within the organisation must be involved in the selection and the implementation process. For the project to be a success, management needs to stay involved.

Underestimating the ramp-up phase of a project

Many companies assume a well-designed system will operate at peak levels shortly after they make the purchase. The best system will not perform as expected until properly trained personnel have developed complete competency with the system. Allow users to gain confidence through a gradual process of operational ramp-up, including incremental training and system usage. Wait to introduce them to new and more complex system functions until they have mastered the basics. Now, when is the ‘right’ time to move to a new system?

Do not wait till your warehouse operations give you no choice. Here are some important tips to help you maximize your business processes:

Keep pace with industry trends

The availability of new technologies and increased market demands are driving rapid change in many industries. Watch for trends such as rising customer expectations, increased competitive pressure or dropping margins. Introducing new or improved automation management technology to your warehouse can be a powerful tool for increasing competitiveness in a challenging market.

Ensure compliance with integration requirements

If you plan to sell to large retailers, you’ll need to comply with their terms in order to remain in good standing and keep your margins in place. Most large retailers have strict vendor compliance requirements that make a modern warehouse management system absolutely critical for success. Since many large retailers use EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), an ideal WMS solution will have EDI integration and be able to automatically transmit order information into an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.

Manage the changes required by e-commerce

If you’re one of the many businesses selling products over the web, a WMS is essential. An online business encounters higher transaction volumes and greater customer expectations. Your material-handling needs also change when you ship directly to consumers rather than to businesses. Instead of pallet or case shipments, most online businesses fulfil many small unit shipments. As shipping times decrease, new requirements such as cross- docking may be required. Without the right system, many errors can occur. And with thin margins, shipping errors can be detrimental to your business. You will need a WMS solution that supports and integrates with your e-business initiatives.

Automating your warehouse

If you’re finding that the lag time between warehouse activities and the entry into your warehouse system or accounting database is slowing down your business, you may want to consider automating those processes. A strong WMS solution integrated into your ERP system will allow you to monitor the warehouse activities in real time – minimizing entry errors, and aid you to measure the efficiency of your warehouse employees.

Make the most out of a warehouse move

If you plan to relocate to a new warehouse, this may be a good starting point to implement a new warehouse management system. By designing a plan from the ground up at your new location, you can eliminate the bottlenecks and inefficiencies of your old warehouse. The sooner you plan and implement, the sooner you can reap the benefits of your new system. Measure your current capabilities. An objective way of assessing your warehouse efficiency will be by conducting a detailed benchmark – measuring your current capabilities. The benchmarks can show you how well your warehouse is performing and the areas you may want to improve. If your assessment indicates significant changes are necessary, now is as good a time as any to implement a new system that provides the required functions of your warehouse.