As more businesses adopt cloud-based WMS to help manage and coordinate logistics, small businesses are also seeking an efficient and cost-effective solution. Thanks to a growing number of SaaS options, WMS for small businesses is a reality that many SMBs can take advantage of.
Our guide to WMS software for small business looks at what WMS software can do and the core features they offer. We also alert you to some of the potential challenges small businesses face during WMS deployment and the top considerations to look at during implementation.
What Is Warehouse Management System for Small Businesses?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution designed to help manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and other businesses involved in the supply chain track and manage the inflow and outflow of goods to and from the warehouse.
Effective WMS systems can help with numerous aspects of business operations and commercial needs including:
- Inventory management
- Human resource management
- Order management
- Customer experience
- Financial budgeting
A WMS can either be an on-premise or cloud-based solution. The former requires hosting and maintaining both the software and hardware components of the system yourself. The latter is a third-party subscription solution hosted on a remote server.
Either option can be deployed by businesses of any size, however, small businesses may find that cloud-based WMS solution are easier and more cost-effective to manage.
Top Features of Warehouse Management System Software for Small Business
The global WMS market is growing rapidly. In 2021, the market was valued at USD 2.94 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.1% between 2022 and 2030. With so many competitors entering the WMS landscape, small businesses have many options to choose from.
If you’re considering investing in a new WMS for your warehouse, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the various functions and features available with these solutions.
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Much WMS software for small businesses offers a free trial, so you can compare different platforms and choose the one with the right combination of features for your needs.
Below are a few of the top features that warehouse management systems offer.
Warehouse Management System Layout and Design
US warehouse space costs an average of $7.91 per square foot to operate. Given these expenses, it’s important to maximize your use of warehouse space through an efficient design.
WMS systems for small businesses can help you design the ideal layout for your type of inventory, order frequency, workforce size, and several other factors to help streamline operations.
To improve warehouse efficiency and guarantee an excellent customer experience, you need an effective way of keeping track of stock levels and inventory location.
WMS software helps you assign serial numbers or a barcode to every SKU, allowing you to easily identify each item and where it belongs. Additional technology like RFID tags is excellent loss prevention features to ensure you never misplace inventory.
Receiving, processing, and fulfilling orders quickly is essential to running a successful small business. A robust WMS can help your business manage and fulfill orders with greater efficiency and higher accuracy.
A WMS can either contain an order management feature or integrate with standalone OMS systems to help you speed up the order fulfillment process by batching orders or providing other strategies for improved operations.
Receiving and Putaway
Keeping track of your incoming inventory is essential when running a warehouse. A WMS can help small businesses receive goods and process received items into the system properly.
Further, a WMS is also a good putaway management solution, ensuring goods are placed in the optimal locations within the warehouse. This can be based on size, space, the number of units, or types of goods, such as goods with expiration dates.
Picking and Packing
The manual elements of warehouse management must be optimized in order to maintain high levels of productivity, safety, and efficiency.
WMS systems help operations managers establish the most efficient pick, pack, and retrieval procedures based on several factors. A WMS can help managers identify which goods need to be picked and packed when and where to not only maximize the process in time and resources but also reduce errors.
Like all businesses, warehouse operations run better when there are targets to aim at. A WMS can help managers set key performance indicators, such as the number of orders processed per hour.
Measuring warehouse success based on how efficiently labor is managed can help businesses maximize their resources and grow in profitability. A WMS can help you tailor your labor expenditures to current inventory levels and seasonal factors.
Credit: Tiger Lily
WMS labor management features are also essential for ensuring the safety of workers by preventing injuries on repetitive tasks.
Good warehouse management software should provide businesses with an end-to-end supply chain solution that manages inventory from receiving to shipping.
Many WMS is able to issue bills of lading to help coordinate with logistics companies. A WMS will also generate a packing list, invoice, and order confirmation, as well as issue real-time shipment notifications to the recipient.
Analytics and Reporting
Advanced WMS systems not only help businesses plan and manage warehouse operations but improve them as well. A WMS uses inventory data entry to produce operations reports.
Many WMS systems are analytics tools that help managers use data to find ways to improve operations based on the insights provided by the software.
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From better scheduling labor for peak demand periods to maximizing picking and packing processes, to reducing shipping costs, a WMS provides businesses with a continuous improvement solution.
WMS Deployment Process and Challenges
Implementing a new cloud-based WMS can save your business time, improve productivity, and increase order accuracy.
However, many WMS features need to be carefully evaluated by a technical expert specializing in cloud-based deployments and integrations to ensure that the software implementation is a success.
Below are some of the WSM deployment challenges to consider before implementation:
- Cross-departmental needs: Consider the stakeholders who will be impacted by a change in WMS. Within the WMS, different departments have unique uses and responsibilities, necessitating careful consideration of included features from multiple angles.
- Implementation timeline: Before any implementation can occur, businesses must develop a deployment plan and implementation timeline that realistically considers all the resources required for a successful launch. Bringing in SMEs to help plan your WMS implementation can increase the likelihood of a successful deployment.
- Legacy system configurations: To migrate your system from a legacy WMS to new cloud-based software, it’s crucial to understand the proper process. Often this involves code rewrites and other complex requirements to ensure a smooth transition.
- Integrations: Businesses must also consider how their new WMS solution will integrate with existing cloud-based business systems, such as ERP, HRIS, CRM, and accounting solutions.
Streamline WMS Deployment With NexInfo ERP Implementation Services
Implementing WMS in small businesses maximizes labor resources, improves inventory accuracy, and increases order fulfillment rates, enabling intelligent warehouse management decisions.
To successfully implement a WMS, small businesses should partner with software deployment experts to help plan a tailored WMS implementation solution and timeline.
NexInfo is a leading provider of ERP implementation solutions, including integrating and deploying WMS systems. As specialists in Oracle cloud solutions, our team has the technical expertise to help manufacturing and retail businesses achieve WMS deployment success.
Contact us today to learn more about our team’s ERP and WMS implementation capabilities.
Featured Photo Credit: Kampus Production