What is a Warehouse Management System?

Warehouse, Green Logistics Co., Kotka, Finland
Warehouse, Green Logistics Co., Kotka, Finland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A warehouse management system (WMS) or sometimes called warehouse management software can best be described as a system that uses technology and specific processes to optimize all of the functions of a storage warehouse. A WMS is used so that, between the suppliers delivering goods to a warehouse and the final delivery to the end customer there are much fewer problems, delays and miscommunications.

Although  WMS systems have typically been designed with large, complex warehouse facilities in mind the advent and advancement of computer technology has made a WMS beneficial even for a small, non-complex warehouse and can help it to streamline operations and reduce costs, sometimes significantly. Indeed the fact that a WMS can help with integrated logistics, just-in-time delivery and e-commerce fulfillment makes it a huge benefit to almost any business that uses an warehouse facility of any kind or size.

Generally speaking a successful WMS will merge computer software, hardware and all peripheral equipment together.  This will improve operations, help with inventory management, help with control over the warehouse space, keep labor costs down and reduce losses.

One of the best reasons to implement a WMS is simply this; increased customer service.  By allowing the business to better track, respond to and deliver  goods to the end consumer a WMS will increase satisfaction, increase repeat sales and increase affinity for the business, all of which will increase the bottom-line at year’s end.

The fact is, with a WMS in place the process from order to delivery is streamlined so that a business can much more accurately tell if the product being ordered is available and, most importantly, when it will most likely be delivered. It can also automatically identify back-ordered inventory and release it thus reducing returns because the accuracy of shipments, timing and location will be much better.

A WMS system can also save a business money by improving the productivity of their workforce. It will help the flow of materials and goods in the warehouse itself by way of cross-docking which will also help reduce handling, theft and other possible areas where losses can occur.

WMS systems can also help to prevent and detect bottlenecks in any business’s operations and help to better control inventory, increase efficiency and generally keep warehouses functioning at top capacity.

If you own or run a warehouse facility that isn’t using a warehouse management system or maybe the one you’re using is outdated it may be time to invest in one today.  The benefits are myriad and the positive effect that it will have on your bottom line can’t be overlooked.

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