Things tend to change and happen fast in e-commerce retailing, whether as a result of a sudden growth spurt, or just dealing with planned, or unplanned, peak demand. This can quickly highlight operational inefficiencies in warehouse management and fulfilment, impacting on the bottom line through rising costs, reduced profit margins, loss of sales opportunities, and poor customer loyalty.
Without a fit for purpose WMS it’s a vicious circle that’s hard to break. Those initial ‘paper and pen’ methods for managing inventory from goods receipt all the way to order despatch, which were just fine in the early days, swiftly become swamped. The pace and complexities of modern retailing are often even a step too far for those larger businesses still using legacy on-premise systems. Many were designed well before the dawn of the e-commerce age.
A dedicated WMS no longer needs to cost the earth as the ‘pay as you go’ SaaS model enables an otherwise Capex investment to be made much more affordable. Using this approach will also reduce total cost of ownership further by allowing user configuration, and remote software maintenance and updates, ensuring minimal reliance on inhouse IT staff.
When to consider a WMS?
Under- or over-selling, overstaffing, increased unforced errors from mispicks, incorrect address labelling, are just some of the signs of a stressed warehouse. All inevitably contribute to slowing things down, reducing productivity and incurring unnecessary costs. And ultimately they impact on time to delivery, customer satisfaction, not to mention new and repeat sales opportunities.
What to look for
Most important, an e-commerce WMS should provide live-to-thesecond updates on available stock items for sale even if they are still at Goods In. Look for a mobile-first WMS which is built for e-commerce and multi-channel from the ground up. By putting operatives right at the point of activity they will be on the spot for managing the entire fulfilment process, from goods-in, through control and movement of stock within the warehouse, to picking and despatching orders.
Ensure the WMS can maximise productivity by optimising picking routes and supporting mobile barcode/RFID devices. Will pickers be able to prioritise based on type of order and deadlines? Does it automatically reconcile actual items ordered for ensuring total accuracy at the packing bench, and for the printing of correctly addressed shipping labels at despatch?
With the Peoplevox e-commerce WMS, e-commerce retailer warehouses also benefit from single and multiple batch management, allowing efficient and accurate picking, from small e-commerce through to large store or wholesale orders. Furthermore its ability to scale up or down suits all sizes of online retail business with single or multiple warehouses. Off-the-shelfintegration with all major ecommerce platforms, ERP tools and shipping software is another major benefit.
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