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What to look for in an eCommerce Warehouse Management System

Written by Michael Badwi
Created: 22 October 2020

Why add a WMS to your Warehouse Solution, like your ERP_-1

While warehouses date back to second century BC Rome (to store grain, olive oil, wine, food, clothing, and marble), the concept of an eCommerce warehouse is a newer one.

 

Ecommerce is a highly competitive space, and online businesses rely on efficient warehousing to support future growth.

But each time your business hits a new inflexion point, eCommerce warehousing becomes much more complex. During stages of growth, you may experience any of the following challenges:

 

  • Outgrow your first storage space

  • Have too much safety stock that needs to be stored in an overflow location

  • Choose to purchase land or lease a warehouse

  • Invest in fulfilment infrastructure including staff, technology, certifications, shipping supplies, forklifts, conveyors, and other equipment for the eCommerce warehouse

  • Introduce new sales channels and need multichannel inventory management capabilities

  • Open or expand into a second fulfilment centre to reduce transit times and shipping costs

  • Scale international fulfilment capabilities and become a global brand
There is no single path brands take, and there are a lot of variables that go into identifying the right eCommerce warehousing solution for you, and finding one that won’t need to be replaced within months (or even years).

To ensure that your business truly benefits from eCommerce warehousing, it’s important to implement best practices to optimise your supply chain.  In this article, we will examine the state of eCommerce warehousing and help you determine the eCommerce warehouse that is best suited for your business.

What is eCommerce warehousing?

Ecommerce warehousing refers to the storage of physical goods that are sold online. Taking place in an eCommerce warehouse or fulfilment centre, common operations include:

 

  • Taking appropriate safety and security measures for inventory storage

  • Receiving and stowing inventory as it arrives in your eCommerce warehouse

  • Managing bin, shelf, and/or pallet locations of each SKU for optimized warehouse slotting

  • Performing warehouse audits and inventory audits

  • Recording stock levels and running inventory reports

  • Monitoring stock availability and inventory turnover

  • Reordering more product in time to prevent stock-outs

 

Ecommerce businesses have a large number of operational expenses, the primary two being inventory holding and operations costs. In your quest for profitability, you can’t just slash your operations costs without assessing the possible consequences.

 

Rather, one of the ways you can increase your profit margin is by integrating a warehouse management system (WMS) that improves your warehouse performance. Productive warehouses cost less to run, which provides more to spend on growing your eCommerce business.

A WMS helps eCommerce organisations by giving access to ongoing and precise information

WMS helps eCommerce organisations by giving access to ongoing and precise information

 

At the point when you have a WMS that connects with your eCommerce store and different sales channels, you abstain from overselling. A WMS pushes exact inventory information to marketplaces and shopping carts, and with exact inventory and order information, you can improve your forecasting accuracy and upgrade your stock levels.

 

This information is also shared with clients - giving on-schedule and exact information for their orders and shipments means better client support and better customer retention.

 

At last, eCommerce businesses save more when their warehouses effectively utilise their operational assets and labour, and this alone is one of the biggest benefits a WMS offers online business.

 

Try not to make do with just scanning barcodes and monitoring inventory levels. The warehouse management system you pick should increase the value of your business.

Picking the ideal Warehouse Management System for Your Ecommerce Business

9 things to consider when choosing a WMS for eCommerce Retail, or B2B

 

It’s important to make sure that you choose the right warehouse management system (WMS) for eCommerce because it could make or break your business. Implement the wrong one and you could have spent vast amounts of money on a system that simply cannot handle your requirements.

 

Picking the best WMS for your eCommerce business isn’t simple. You’ll have to figure out which highlights are generally imperative to you and your business. Do you realize what to search for in warehouse software? Shouldn’t something be said about differentiating between systems?

 

Price is not the main factor - a costly warehouse management system doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best for your business, but equally, it might produce the best ROI. When choosing, here are a couple of key traits to look for in a decent warehouse management system:

 

1. Accuracy From the Beginning Will Save You Headaches in the Future

You need accuracy all the way. You want an insignificant number of mistakes per order line. That is a significant WMS include for retailers. Your WMS needs to record your inventory transactions appropriately, with the littlest measure of missteps. By checking this key part, you will spare yourself harm control time over the long haul. One wrong number can swell through your whole store network for that item.

2. Training

The WMS that you choose to implement should be supported by excellent partner training to get your workers up to speed. This is especially important when peaks hit, and you have to bring in temporary workers. Additionally, the system must be friendly and intuitive to navigate, making it easier for all team members to adopt it without stress and error. 

3. Scalability

Ecommerce is one big pond and there is plenty of room for you to grow; but if you’re going to be any challenge to the bigger fish, the ability to up-scale is a must. Choosing a WMS that can grow and expand with you, particularly in the ever-changing world of eCommerce, is essential.  Also consider the longevity of your partner, their commitment and attitude to technology and upgrades, and their reputation both locally and globally. 

4. Data

Many companies are in one of two positions: either they don’t have any data to use; or they have plenty of data but don’t know what to do with it! Data integrity is essential for accurate forecasting and planning. The right WMS will provide you with countless rich reports on which you can make informed decisions.

5. Return on Investment

In order to make a solid business case for a new eCommerce WMS, you’ll need to know your figures inside out. Choosing the wrong WMS could cost your business a considerable amount more than it can save you in return.

 

Beware the hidden costs of seemingly cheaper warehouse management software such as integrations, customisation, updates, maintenance, IT resources, and fixed additional licenses.

6. On-site vs cloud

Perhaps the least demanding approach to guarantee cost-viability is by picking a cloud-based choice over an on-premise system. You’ll spend less on a cloud-based warehouse system than permitting an on-premise system on the grounds that the speculation and execution are far less expensive.

 

Regularly you’ll have more devices available to you without stressing over equipment costs. Your cloud-based WMS provider ought to continually refresh your system with the best in class highlights. At that point, you’ll generally have the most cutting-edge form of the system with no re-establishment bother.

7. Integration and Interfacing

The right WMS for an eCommerce business will seamlessly connect with any other ERP software that you are using. Flexibility is essential in your WMS, but ideally, you want to minimise spending on writing integrations; finding a WMS that has a catalogue of existing off-the-shelf integrations is a good choice.

8. Capabilities

Propelled warehouse management systems enable you to execute propelled satisfaction methodologies like moving wave arranging. The sooner you can move stock out of your warehouse, the sooner you can supplant it.

 

Also, consider if you want your WMS to connect with your sales channels - regardless of whether you are a retailer or provider, your software ought to adjust to any client’s needs, as well as incorporate different delivery stages (dock to the warehouse, as well as last-mile delivery).

 

Each online retailer has an alternate shipping carrier, so ensure that your warehouse management system is adaptable enough to coordinate with that, just as your stock, purchase order and order preparing systems.

9. Real-Time Data and Warehouse Activity Records

Top to bottom warehouse data and revealing enables you to make better choices with regards to inventory. Stock speaks to tied-up capital, so abundance stock can rapidly hurt a solid business, causing both roundabout and direct expenses.

 

Some immediate expenses would be things like warehouse lease and utilities. Aberrant costs incorporate things like the expenses you pay to move that stock.

 

Key Features of an eCommerce WMS

Ecommerce warehousing best practices

Implementing poor eCommerce warehousing processes can result in brands wasting money and even delaying orders. Proper warehouse management follows the best eCommerce warehousing practices that improve your bottom line and provide a great customer experience.

1. Use a warehouse management system (WMS)

A warehouse management system is a specialised software that offers businesses features that optimise an eCommerce warehouse by:

 

  • Providing real-time insight into your inventory and product availability

  • Managing and monitoring eCommerce supply chain operations, from the manufacturer to the distribution centre

  • Forecasting inventory to determine when your stock might run out

  • Streamlining the eCommerce fulfilment process and make your operations more efficient

  • Integrating your eCommerce store (and other tools)

  • Optimising inventory management to determine stock availability in real-time, forecast inventory more easily, and set reorder points in advance before a shortage can occur.

2. Distribute your inventory

Distributing your inventory across multiple warehouses reduces shipping costs so that when an order is placed, it is automatically prepared and dispatched from the nearest distribution centre to the customer. This can also improve the customer experience by providing a faster, more cost-efficient delivery.

3. Test multiple picking systems to find the right one

Ecommerce businesses have a multitude of picking systems to choose from. More advanced tools can enable batch picking and auto-generate picking lists based on the ordered items’ proximity to one another in an eCommerce warehouse to reduce the walking paths and time it takes to pick an order.

4. Set inventory minimums points

Finding the right balance in inventory is always a challenge. Ordering too many products can bring harm to a business’s profits and lead to high inventory carrying costs, while not enough can lead to out-of-stock notices and angry customers that go elsewhere. Thus, setting mandatory inventory minimums is a smart precaution - a good WMS will let businesses set reorder points, so they can receive a notification once a product reaches a specific threshold.

 

Conclusion: In eCommerce Warehouse Management Systems, efficiency and flexibility are key

Ecommerce warehousing can be tricky, so your business needs an efficient eCommerce warehouse to improve profits and scale. 

 

When researching warehousing options for your eCommerce business, consider that you’ll need supply chain experts on hand who can manage fulfilment and provide a great customer experience.

 

Find out more about Warehouse Management systems for eCommerce by taking the next step down the rabbit hole: Read The New Requirements for Omnichannel Success

OR

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