Technology, software and automation are now matching the demand for improved customer control and expectation, and the are a number of WMS vendors producing solutions capable of doing anything you require for your business.
But what does your business require, and can you match that to an appropriate solution? We tell you what you need to know to make that decision.
You have realised the value of a WMS and the scope it can offer you, but now you need to decide which WMS system is right for you, your business, and ultimately your customers.
You need to consider the following before choosing:
While you are aware of the WMS options available to you, you may not know the full benefits and deliverables that the WMS offers.
The right WMS technology maximises warehouse resources by assigning work the moment an asset is available. Through optimisation algorithms and machine learning, the software monitors people, equipment and inventory in real time. Instead of using guesswork, the solution knows exactly when work is finished and assigns new tasks immediately. But it takes a new kind of solution to make it possible.
To check if your warehouse management software is a good fit for your business, you can compare its abilities to the list below and ask if your system gives your business these benefits:
You wouldn’t buy a sports car to transport crates of meat, the vehicle isn’t fit for purpose. Instead of making a single delivery in a truck, you’d be driving back and forth a hundred times to fill your order - costing you time and money. The same logic applies to your WMS. If it doesn’t align with your business goals, it won’t be able to deliver the results you need.
You need a balanced focus in your operational performance objectives, namely efficiency, asset utilisation, and customer response.
An efficient and productive warehouse is a profitable one. One of the ways that your WMS should be helping you achieve your business goals, is to streamline operations and ultimately reduce your expenses - increasing your profit margin.
Warehouse Management and Labour Management Software can help save customers at a minimum 6 - 9% on labour. Manhattan’s labour scheduling solution is the first of its kinds built by distribution experts, using real-world distribution test cases and optimised for the unique and complex needs of distribution centers.
Your WMS should be as simple and user-friendly to implement as possible. It should give you all the functionality you need, without having to get a software engineer to modify the system to suit your business.
Investing in a WMS is a big decision. The average onboarding process can take six to eight months - and you don’t want to go through all of that, only to find out at the end of the process that your vendor doesn’t provide the ongoing support you need to get the most out of your WMS.
One of the best ways to tell if your vendor is going to be a good long-term partner, is to ask whether they invest back into their products. With the rapid evolution of technology, you want to make sure you’re using best-in-class software (with regularly updated functionality), to keep up with changes in the market.
Modern buyers want instant results - otherwise they’ll simply take their business elsewhere. Gone are the days where you can afford to have a two to three month delivery cycle for functional changes to meet changing requirements. These need to be done within hours or days. Your customers expect to be able to make their purchase and receive their order rapidly and you need to be able to deliver. Read how our client, the Foschini Group, achieved this and won three major logistics awards using the Manhattan WMS.
Integrating certain warehouse management systems with your existing ERP systems and processes can be a nightmare. To avoid this, you should choose a WMS that’s known to integrate easily with other systems and software.
Apart from the immediate benefits of a WMS (like faster picking and better inventory visibility and control), your WMS should deliver long-term ROI based on the data and insights your WMS provides. This data is invaluable. It can be used to direct your corporate strategy, identify bleeding points in your supply chain and alert you to opportunities for growth and improvement.
Functionality is key when choosing any software - the reason you are investing in a WMS is that the functionality will help you execute actions in your warehouse that you either cannot do, or do in a manual, labour-intensive, costly manner.
Depending on your industry, your WMS should flexibly cater to your specific requirements, but the core functionality remains consistent. Manhattan's list of WMS core functions covers this effectively:
Your WMS must be able to do all of this, with additional functions per industry vertical:
The ideal WMS is one designed with the intelligence to specifically meet today’s omnichannel fulfilment challenges. First, it needs to enable agile fulfilment processes by continuously monitoring assets and assigning work as they become available. Second, it needs to have flexibility to shuffle orders and shift resources to meet ever-changing needs and priorities.
Give your distribution centres those advantages, and you set your entire organisation up for success.
To understand more about the core functions of a WMS in your industry, get the toolkits and essentials breakdowns that help you to make an informed decision: