When purchasing products online, today’s customers expect transparent inventory, flexible shipping options, and fast delivery times — prompting organizations across all industries to upgrade their legacy ERP or warehouse management system (WMS).
Here at Codal, we’re currently working on optimizing the technology stack for one of our clients in the food and beverage space. This work includes integrating the company’s eCommerce platform with its WMS to better manage order fulfillment and data synchronization. In the spirit of this project, we decided to put together an article that explores common techniques for maximizing the value of WMS software.
Is your business’ WMS outdated? Here are a few good signs that it is:
- Disparate applications: Your legacy WMS can’t integrate with other key business software, such as your CRM, ERP, or eCommerce platform — resulting in a lack of communication between disparate systems, as well as manual and time-consuming processes, namely data entry.
- Unsatisfied customers: As your business sells more products in more territories to more customers, warehouse processes will inevitably become more complex. Without a modern WMS, you won’t have the infrastructure to support ever-changing customer needs, such as speedy delivery, free shipping, real-time order updates, and so on.
- Poor data management: Your business’ existing WMS doesn’t have the features or functionality necessary to accurately report data. Without an efficient system for collecting, managing, and analyzing internal data, you can’t effectively make workflow improvements and plan for the future.
A modern WMS provides many advantages for growing businesses. You can automate time-consuming tasks, streamline communication between teams, keep track of items at rest or in transit, improve product quality control, prevent inventory complications, collect actionable business data, and much more.
Let’s take a look at the key techniques organizations use to future-proof their WMS.
Adopting a microservices architecture
Growing businesses that rely on monolithic WMS software quickly run into scalability problems, as they’re not able to add new features and functionality without overhauling the entire system. For instance, if you want to implement a module for better supply chain data reporting, you’ll need to develop and launch a new version of the WMS that supports such functionality — and doing so will require significant time, effort, and resources.
Microservices architecture offers a more flexible approach. This allows you to manage individual WMS components separately so you can add or update features based on shifting customer expectations, technological advancements, and industry trends. With inventory, order fulfillment, shipping and logistics, and supply chain management all functioning as unique microservices, you can make changes to one without affecting the others. These modules communicate via APIs, so that data can flow seamlessly between each application, without them having to operate as a tightly coupled system.
Implementing real-time data monitoring
With AI and IoT technology, you can build a bridge between your organization’s physical warehouse equipment and its WMS software. Sensors, barcode scanners, surveillance cameras, and wearables are leveraged to collect and visualize a wide range of data in real time, giving managers the ability to:
- Track the location of shipped products
- Ensure that items are stored and handled properly
- Know when items go out of stock and prevent overstocking
- Quickly access product information, such as weight, color, and dimensions
- Identify damaged items
- Monitor employee productivity and performance
- Maintain government and industry regulations
With this data, your WMS can generate real-time reports that help your business speed up internal workflows, improve employee training, create safer working conditions, and so on. Your WMS can also help deliver information to buyers in real time — such as order status, item location, and estimated delivery time — and therefore provide a more transparent customer experience.
Integrating other advanced third-party systems
As mentioned above, there are many cutting-edge tools available to help drive WMS efficiency — and there are even more advanced innovations still to come. As long as you have a flexible system that can integrate with these solutions, you’ll be able to modernize every step of the process when it comes to inventory, order fulfillment, shipping and logistics, and supply chain management.
The most common WMS integrations include business applications like CRM and ERP tools, eCommerce platforms, and shipping and logistics systems. Here are a few examples of other third-party solutions that organizations regularly use to enhance their WMS:
- Billing systems: By connecting your business’ WMS to its accounting software, you can automatically generate and send invoices to clients in a matter of seconds. This is especially useful for companies that need to process and track billing for a wide range of customers, each with its own curated order schedule, pricing, and payment terms.
- Labor management systems (LMS): LMS tools help organizations maximize the efficiency of their workforce by tracking the amount of time and effort spent on individual tasks, along with the effectiveness of those tasks. This helps managers optimize training and workflows, as well as establish incentives — such as cash bonuses — for workers that achieve certain productivity goals.
- Transport management systems (TMS): A properly integrated TMS leads to faster delivery times and lower transportation costs, allowing you to bring down the price of shipping for your customers. This software sends real-time updates to fleet managers so that they can allocate the appropriate amount of resources to a certain order, as well as respond quickly to unforeseen delays caused by weather or other issues.
As technology becomes more advanced, customer expectations change, putting pressure on organizations to improve their internal processes — and ultimately the customer experience — via modern ERP and WMS solutions. With a digital transformation partner like Codal, your business can strategically update legacy systems, leading to higher productivity, lower costs and greater scalability.
Codal’s award-winning developers have years of experience building, managing, and optimizing key business software integrations — enabling our clients to eliminate manual, error-prone processes and focus on higher-priority objectives, such as developing sales and marketing strategies, releasing new products, and expanding to new markets.
Interested in learning more about how Codal can help improve your company’s WMS via cutting-edge digital solutions? Get in touch with a member of our team today!