The ever-growing complexity in the business environment and consumer preferences has forced E-commerce, 3PL, manufacturing, distribution centers, and retail companies to become heavily reliant on advanced technology. Such technology needs to ensure smoother supply chain and logistics operations right from procurement of inbound goods to delivering them in the order fulfillment step.
To keep up with the dynamic warehousing needs, fulfillment centers today need to be equipped with an advanced Warehouse Management System (WMS) with best-in-class features. A modern WMS must provide a connected experience inside a warehouse as well as between multiple warehouses. A new-age WMS must also help warehouse workers retire manual and spreadsheet-based warehouse processes and automate every day recurring processes to enhance warehouse operations.
Here is a guide to the key advanced features and capabilities that should be built into a modern WMS to drive excellent warehouse execution and efficient and accurate order fulfillment.
Single Point of Control
A warehouse manager’s job involves taking control of all varying processes and assets in a warehouse. A modern powerful WMS should serve as a single control tower for visualizing all activity in the warehouse as well as taking any actions that may be required. A warehouse operating system should be capable of connecting activities, warehouse labor, and all sorts of mobile devices and robots that are being deployed. This involves simpler activities like rule-based putaway to more complex cross-docking It should also promote collaboration between these assets. Right from assigning the right picker and packing station to managing tasks being carried out by sorters and automated mobile robots (AMRs), a modern WMS should be able to manage it all.
One of the biggest challenges faced by warehouse managers is the lack of visibility in real-time. In fact, over 71% of warehouse managers surveyed deemed poor and timely visibility of activities as one of the major factors in poor decision making. Today’s warehouses require continuous and real-time data input from multiple data points. This includes operational tasks, quality control, devices and robots, and software integrations such as ERPs, shipping management services and e-commerce platforms. This involves having up-to-date data on all orders, real-time inventory reconciliation, shipping status as well as a record of all activities completed with respect to a particular order.
Low/No-Code based Customization
Simplicity in use is key in modern enterprise software. The same is true for warehouse management systems. Modern WMS’ should be able to provide its customers the ability to make modifications to workflows, automatically assign tasks to different pickers and packers and create specialized rules for certain categories of orders/SKUs. Warehouse managers should be able to make the said changes and customize their processes in minutes, if not hours. Similarly, most present-day WMS’ should allow users to add new integrations to their existing workflows and make the data transfer between the services seamless. Gone are the days when the integrations would take days and months to be deployed and tested.
Continuous Order Streaming
Order management systems (OMS) today need to be tightly coupled with warehouse management and the execution system. This helps in simplifying the fulfillment process as well as in making intelligent data-driven recommendations on order batching optimization, picker route optimization, assigning pickers and packers to each order, and prioritizing certain orders. OMS’ should provide the warehouse associates with recommendations based on historical data about the volume of warehouse activity and the order fulfillment workflow.
Today’s order management systems must also optimize for time and costs by making waveless picking optimization the norm wherein orders are assigned and allocated as a continuous activity instead of combining and releasing order batches in waves. The latter hampers the warehouse productivity by inducing situations of highs and lows which can make inaccuracies more commonplace and may also make the timely fulfillment of orders a challenge during peak sales periods such as the holiday season.
Intelligent Inventory Management
Inventory management is becoming more challenging by the day as consumer demand continues to change and supply chains remain disrupted due to the pandemic. A modern WMS should be able to put every inch of the warehouse under proper utilization and must guide a warehouse manager in procuring and maintaining the optimal levels of inventory.
Automation is crucial in the inventory management process and a WMS should be capable of automating the ordering process where the software automatically places an order for the restock quantity when the inventory falls below the prescribed limit. The inventory management suite must also analyze the past inventory performance data and make stock quantity recommendations to avoid over-stocking and stockouts, both of which can have dire consequences for the financial performance as well as the brand image. Should a case of overstocking occur, a WMS should also be capable of identifying liquidation opportunities as and when needed.
In the modern age, a WMS should also provide various other inventory management services such as kitting, lot tracking for perishable items, bin management, returns and inbound reconciliation, etc. In addition, another major capability desired by warehouse managers is that of demand forecasting. Any new-age WMS should be able to intelligently allocate stock levels to periods of peak or trough demand and must also make data-driven predictions on demand during different periods in the business cycle.
Out of the Box Integrations
Every warehouse and logistics department uses a stack of tools and technologies that work in tandem to ensure smooth functioning of the logistics process. WMS’ today should come with out-of-the-box integrations spanning across ERPs, accounting tools, shipping management software, e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, etc. to provide a comprehensive experience to the Warehouse Management Software user as well as minimize the time needed to deploy and add the integrations. On the other hand, a WMS should be interconnected with all the hardware devices such as mobile devices and robots that are deployed in the warehouse such as conveyor belts, sorters, AMRs, scanners, and printers to keep a real-time track of all activities taking place.
Performance Analytics and Real-Time Reports
Data is of utmost importance to any warehouse management. Business decisions are becoming increasingly reliant on analytics and performance metrics and thus a WMS in 2022 should provide real-time metrics on various fronts such as order lead times, picking efficiency, inventory levels, worker performance, fulfillment time, space utilization, and more. A reporting and analytics suite should also allow for these metrics to be broken down and categorized as per the SKU, order customer, country, and individual worker. The reporting modules must also offer customization so each warehouse associate can not only create custom reports and dashboards but can also easily track the metrics most relevant to them.
Hopstack is Built to Solve Warehousing Challenges of 2022
Hopstack offers an advanced suite of order management, inventory management, workforce management, and warehouse intelligence modules to solve the biggest challenges faced by warehouse managers today. Hopstack is built to boost warehouse performance and productivity and minimize errors caused by manual spreadsheet-driven processes. The platform helps warehouses optimize their warehouse space, have a single point of control, and optimize their entire fulfillment lifecycle including the pick/pack/ship processes.
Schedule a demo today to understand how Hopstack’s AI-driven WMS can help you supercharge your warehousing operations and can help eliminate any choke points in your warehousing process.