WMS101: A Beginner Guide to WMS-www.visonstorage.com




WMS101: A Beginner Guide to WMS

WMS101: A Beginner Guide to WMS

Mar 15, 2024

A WMS (Warehouse Management System) is a software solution designed to simplify inventory management and supply chain operations, from the distribution center to the storage shelves. It provides businesses with comprehensive visibility into their inventory and order fulfillment operations.


WMS solutions are instrumental in maximizing labor productivity, space utilization, and equipment investments by coordinate resources and material flows in an integrated manner in as to catering the specialized business objectives and industrial requirements.


Types of warehouse management systems:


WMS software: standalone, cloud-based, and applications built into ERP or SCM (supply chain management) platforms.


Each type of WMS has its own features, and the best choice should depend on business objectives:


Standalone WMS: These systems are usually deployed on the WMS provider’s own premises running on their own hardware. It usually allows for more customization (even it may be costly sometimes) and the organization can maintain tighter control over their data and software. Although the initial cost of the system can be substantially higher than others, once a company owns it, they own it.


Cloud WMS: As a software-as-a-service (SaaS), it retains maintenance and updates of service provider on a regular basis. It can be easily associated with other solutions and easily be scaled based on the operational demand.


ERP and SCM-based WMS:

Some warehouse management systems adopt a modular or application-based approach, intertwining with ERP and supply chain platforms. This approach fosters vivid interaction with other solutions, particularly in realms like accounting and data. Through this integration, an entire perspective on the logistics operations and business activities is fulfilled, facilitating transparency from end to end.



Main Features of WMS:

1. Inventory Management

A WMS should provide real-time tracking of inventory levels, statuses and location within the warehouse.



2. Warehouse Location Management

A key feature for a WMS is the ability to uniquely identify and classify the space in your warehouse. Depending on the size of the operation, it may provide support for unique location IDs across multiple warehouses or internal warehouse zones with many different use cases like pick faces, bulk storage, goods in or out locations and controlled storage (Chilled, frozen, high security).


3. Inventory Dynamics Management

Managing goods in various processes can be challenging in supply chain management. A WMS should shed due clarity on upcoming deliveries, including delivery date as well as other specifications of the delivery to allow you to schedule the following handling.


Features to consider include:

  Ÿ Support for advanced shipment notifications (ASN)

  Ÿ Delivery calendar to show upcoming shipments

  Ÿ Serial Shipping Container Codes GS-1 label support

  Ÿ Staged receipt and put-away actions


4. Order Management

In today’s omni-channel marketing landscape, it’s essential for a warehouse to handle loads of products from multiple sources.


 It should also allow receipt of orders from a variety of online store fronts, social commerce platforms, from CSV upload, API/EDI connections, EPOS or manual input.


5. Shipping Management

Shipping information like courier and service selection concerning the order and package should be trackable, WMS should support the bulk generation of shipping labels and disposal of tracking information integrating associated couriers.


6. Order Picking and Packing

Based on the volume of orders being processed and the types of specific products, different pick and pack processes may be taken into account, thus pick multiple orders to a cage in bulk or use tote trollies.


For each batch of loads, the WMS should be equipped with the ability to assign the picking type as well as handling of documentation works, such as dispatch notes, packing lists et cetera.


7. Return Management

An inevitable part of order fulfillment is return management. It entails a WMS to provide a returns process against an order and returns received. The WMS should also allow for generate concerned documents, log the returned items and their condition and provide options to exchange or refund before inspection of the returned goods and lastly preparation for restock or scrappage.


8. Integrations

Although you might have explored order and courier integrations but you may also extend more functionality to you ERP software solution such as a finance management system or CRM. A WMS may have standard integrations to common platforms but an open API allowing for custom integration is also an important factor to consider.


9. Mobile Functionality

With a view to picking and tasking, Mobile functionality is typically regarded as allowing users to scan barcodes for SKUs and Warehouse Locations when completing tasks to log for traceability.


10. Reporting and Analytics

A WMS needs to provide both real-time data reporting and trend based analytics on all aspects of your warehouse. This allows users to monitor KPIs, SLAs and make informed decisions to optimize operations. More recently, forecasting driven by artificial intelligence has been employed to suggest required inventory and resource levels in advance of peak trading periods.


A Warehouse management system reporting capabilities may include:

  Ÿ Real time reporting on key operational data like inventory, stock movements/adjustments, outstanding orders and daily despatch reports

  Ÿ Trend based analytic data logged over time to allow analysis for optimization and forecasting

  Ÿ AI driven forecasting to assist in informed business decisions

  Ÿ Custom reporting options

  Ÿ Report scheduling

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