In today’s market, operational efficiency is a must-have, and for distributors, that begins in the warehouse. Distributors and their manufacturer partners all depend on solid warehouse management to store, select and ship the right products to the right customer at the right time.
It’s not an overstatement to say that their business depends on doing this well.
What is a warehouse management system?
A warehouse management system (also known as a WMS) is software that helps warehouses, fulfillment centers or distribution centers manage day-to-day operations, per Gartner. A warehouse management system coordinates things like receiving, inventory management, order allocation, picking, packing, shipping and more.
Why do you need a warehouse management system?
Warehouse management software gets your operations on the same page — and, usually, that requires going digital. A solid system reduces errors and improves efficiency. That means less downtime, higher fill rates and increased customer satisfaction.
A good warehouse management system should give you end-to-end inventory visibility. This helps manufacturers effectively manage capacity and consumption of raw materials – and distributors to manage everything from receiving a product to the second a product leaves the warehouse. Additionally, a warehouse management system should automate and help you scale your current activities. Plus, the best options include mobile apps that can be tailored for employees to simplify their daily tasks.
What to look for in a warehouse management system
Whether you’re introducing a new system or upgrading your technology to keep pace with customer demands, choosing a modern warehouse management system is a powerful way to make your company more efficient and more competitive.
Here are a few things to look for in a warehouse management system:
Does the system support your current warehouse functions, with room to grow?
When choosing a warehouse management system, be sure to assess your company’s current needs to be sure that the selected system covers your existing business operations. Does the system have capacity to manage processes like receiving, inventory, picking, packing and shipping? Consider where you are now, but also think about how your company will grow. Choosing a warehouse management system that can scale with your company and bring new efficiencies can help meet customer needs down the line.
Does the system integrate with your current ERP?
If you are already using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, consider whether a warehouse management system will interact well with the existing system. Factors like sales order management and inventory tracking are particularly important to ERP, and will likely overlap with warehouse management functions. A warehouse management system that fully integrates with your existing ERP can improve transparency across the supply chain.
An already-integrated solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management modernizes warehouse management and increases visibility across your entire operation, improving speed, accuracy and service levels, while reducing costs and driving growth.
Does it reduce workarounds?
When you have a system in place that doesn’t cover all of your team’s day-to-day tasks, there’s a chance that they are finding workarounds to fill in the gaps. In fact, one employee said that workarounds added more than 10 hours of work each week, according to this Aptean study. Your warehouse management system should streamline and improve your warehouse operations so that the team has all the functionality they need without having to find ways around it. Be prepared to train your employees on using the system so that they can get the most out of it without resorting to inefficient workarounds. If the new system offers options for automating certain tasks and reducing redundant efforts on behalf of the warehouse team, even better.
Consider Microsoft Dynamics 365 with ENAVATE’s Warehouse Extensions App
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management allows distributors and manufacturers to harness the power of IoT and AI to apply predictive insights and intelligence across elements like planning, inventory, warehouse management and transportation. With a holistic view of all these moving parts, companies can maximize operational efficiency.
ENAVATE takes it a step further with its Warehouse Extensions App, which seals gaps in Dynamics 365, reduces workarounds, and gets warehouse operations functioning like a well-oiled machine. The ENAVATE Warehouse Extensions App has features such as:
- Printing license plate labels on-demand from mobile devices
- Posting packing slips with shipment confirmations
- Batch release to the warehouse for reserved order quantities
- Confirming a shipment in fewer clicks
ENAVATE also offers our Product Substitution App, that provides greater flexibility in item substitutions for distributors. Learn more.
About the Author
Taylor Clements is Director of Implementation Services at ENAVATE.