About Warehouse Management Software
Today, companies in all industries feel the pressure to keep their supply chains running smoothly. And with the prevalence of ever-changing distribution channels and production centers feeding those supply chains, there’s a growing need to efficiently manage their warehouses. On top of that, there is an increasing need for a rapid turnover of goods in warehouses and distribution centers.
The benefits of warehouse management software are becoming clearer all the time: guiding goods quickly through the warehouse means the storage period of goods becomes shorter, and the number of goods movements in the warehouse (putaway, picking, stock transfer) can be reduced.
How Warehouse Management Software Will Benefit You
If you’re involved in product distribution, you already know that complex warehouse operations must adapt quickly and easily to change. Your company is constantly innovating—and as your business model rapidly changes, the expectations for your warehouses change, too.
Whether your customers are conserving operating cash in a constrained credit market, or your business decides to ship products with the longest remaining shelf-life to the best customers, you need warehouse management software that will quickly respond. What’s more, you’re probably learning that your warehouse systems are increasingly expected to perform more and more functions including assembly, manufacturing, and repair. These capabilities are part of extended value chain processes that include transportation management, procurement, manufacturing, order management, spare parts and repair operations, asset management, and maintenance.
What to Look for in Warehouse Management Software
A complete solution for managing warehouse operations is one that can maintain a single warehouse or provide a central point of control that spans across multiple, varying facilities. Warehouse management software should leverage the operational benefits of today’s service-oriented architecture (SOA), benefits from strong integration capabilities, and should easily integrate with your existing infrastructure and material handling equipment, as well as support new technologies like radio frequency identification (RFID).
Ideally, the goal is to bring operational discipline to complex warehouse operations by providing a planning layer, a real-time execution layer, and an operational monitoring tool to ensure optimal utilization of resources. When selecting the right warehouse management software, you should consider both leading WMS solutions with superior abilities to support a dynamic market environment with a multitude of warehouse flows, as well as a range of integrated extensions that makes the warehouse operation a multi-functioning and transparent bridge in the supply chain.
The payoff that comes from making the right warehouse management software choice is huge. Customers using the most advanced warehouse management software experienced increased utilization of warehouse space, reduction of obsolete products, improved delivery reliability, and increased warehouse turns. While choosing warehouse management software that’s right for your operations depends on your unique requirements, there are some desired features that should be high on your must-have list.
Warehouse Management Software Key Features
- Bin and Pick Management. You should look for warehouse management software that lets you ship orders to your customers more efficiently by organizing your warehouse using bins to track the exact location of items in stock. Employees will be able to pick and fulfill orders faster when they know exactly where to go for the items they need. For example, each item may be stored in multiple bins, and different items can be stored in the same bin. Using bins will also streamlines the re-stocking process by generating a put-away list for goods received but still in the loading area. You can also use bins to organize a single warehouse or multiple warehouses, when using a multi-location inventory feature.
- Demand Based Inventory Replenishment. Warehouse management software that provides intelligent control over inventory replenishment will ensure that you have enough on hand to fill anticipated orders, and keep excess stock to a minimum. Average lead time, historical or seasonal-based sales demand, and number of days’ supply to stock are data points that should be used by the application to the dynamically set reorder point and preferred stock level for each item, on an ongoing basis. You should also be able to handle atypical circumstances by overriding or disabling these calculations for individual items.
- Dynamic Ordering Queue. Consider warehouse management software that gives you an operational environment where you can order all your inventory items with one click and get what you need, when you need it.
- Customer and Volume Pricing. With optimized warehouse management software that delivers an integrated inventory management software solution, you can assign different prices for different types of customers. You can also assign different prices for wholesale, retail or online sales.
- Integrated Inventory Management. When you need to create new inventory items, warehouse management software should feature an inventory management application that allows you to define Web characteristics, such as pricing, captions, images and more. Sales representatives and partners should have full views into inventory levels. Plus, orders from the Web, retail or sales organization, should automatically be reflected in inventory levels.
- Multi-location Inventory Management. Warehouse management software that provides intelligent control over inventory replenishment will ensure that you have enough on hand to fill anticipated orders, and keep excess stock to a minimum. Average lead time, historical or seasonal-based sales demand, and number of days’ supply to stock are data points that should be used by the application to the dynamically set reorder point and preferred stock level for each item, on an ongoing basis. You should also be able to handle atypical circumstances by overriding or disabling these calculations for individual items.
- Matrix Items. With good warehouse management software inventory management functionality, you can handle various combinations of the same item, enabling different values for characteristics such as pricing, inventory status, and description. Ideally, you want to give your customers and sales representatives the ability to identify item combinations more quickly. As a result, you’ll be able to meet the varying demands of your customer base more easily.
- Lot Numbers. Look for warehouse management software that gives you a complete history for each lot number, which should be maintained in the inventory management program through the product’s life cycle. You should also be able to assign an expiration date to each lot number and enter notes about it. Lot items track the specific cost for each lot as products are bought and sold and lot numbers must be entered when building or receiving a lot into inventory, and when fulfilling orders for a lot item.