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Choosing the Right Warehouse Management Software for a Small Business

Posted: November 29, 2019 by Ly Phan

Choosing the Right Warehouse Management Software for a Small Business

For small to medium companies that operate warehouses, it can prove a challenge to manage with limited resources. Tight budgets mean there’s little room for error when it comes to investment, and choosing the right warehouse management software for a small business is essential. Using the right package will enable your business to process data quickly and efficiently coordinate inventory movement.

There are several potential benefits warehouse management software (WMS) can bring:

  1. Efficient Resource Management: This is particularly true with software that can integrate with other business systems. With a detailed oversight of multiple processes, companies will be able to manage resources more efficiently.
  2. Real-Time Visibility: The best inventory control software for small businesses offer real-time visibility across multiple systems. Once data has been uploaded or amended, it automatically updates other parts of the system - delivering the latest information to workers. For instance, pick and pack teams can see all the details they need on remote devices, reducing the time it takes to check items.
  3. Greater Accuracy: One of the key benefits of integration and technology is the higher level of accuracy across systems. This would lead to a reduction in human error and increase profit margins. For example, one SmartTurn client saw its inventory accuracy levels rise from 91% to 99%, and helped the business win more customers.
  4. Inventory Tracking: A crucial aspect of a smooth supply chain is being able to track inventory throughout the process. Using WMS enables companies to do so, and ensure the risk of stockouts or wasteful oversupply is diminished.
  5. Improved Customer Service: The objective of any business is to meet, or exceed, the expectations of customers. Each of the previous advantages leads to this point - better customer service. The power of WMS is that it can make companies more efficient and attractive to both current and prospective clients. 

The right WMS package can prove invaluable to a business with one or multiple warehouses. The key is to select the option that matches your objectives.

 

How to Select the Right WMS

The decision-making process in selecting the right WMS should consider a range of factors, both internal and external. The end goal is to have a system in place that serves the interests of your business, so it’s essential to take time and carry out the research:

Evaluate Your Business

The first step is to look close to home and analyze your own business. There are several factors to consider:

  1. Number of Employees: The number of employees will have an impact on the final cost of the software and the ability for remote access. Striking a balance between security and ease of use with secure login processes is essential.
  2. Number of Locations: As a business, you may operate out of single or multiple locations. One of the key advantages of a cloud-based solution is that it can easily work remotely across international borders. In today’s world of global supply chains, this connectivity enables smooth and efficient warehouse operations. 
  3. Type of Products: During the evaluation process, assessing the type of products you deal with can influence your objectives. For example, if your business specializes in groceries and other perishable goods, then speed is of the essence. For more high-end, fragile products, then careful handling is crucial. Both situations will require a different WMS setup.
  4. Current Performance: Undertaking an in-depth analysis of your current inventory control systems will help identify areas for improvement. Overall, you want to be looking at how long it takes for inventory to leave the warehouse from the moment it arrives. Within that goal, there will be multiple processes to test, such as receiving and putaway, routes, and order fulfillment. Inventory accuracy is another area to consider, for example, working out the percentage of orders being delivered to the right addresses.
  5. Revenue: Budgetary constraints are a common issue for small-to-medium sized businesses, so the priority is to ensure a strong ROI. With SmartTurn, comprehensive cloud-based WMS packages start at just $500 a month, generating in excess of $10,000 a month in efficiency savings.

Bringing those factors together will give your team a solid basis to work out the needs of the business, and be able to shortlist potential WMS accordingly.

 

Plan for Growth

WMS is crucial for growing business

While it can be tempting to opt for simple inventory management software, it’s important to consider the capacity for growth. As a small business, having the right infrastructure in place for increasing demand can put you ahead of your competitors. The trick is to pick a customizable solution that can provide flexibility for business growth.

For example, the capability to work with barcode scanning technology allows businesses to scale up production. Instead of workers continually having to communicate and undertake time-consuming checks on inventory, they can use mobile devices to simply zap the barcode and have the relevant details within seconds. This kind of efficiency means companies can secure growth with the same level of workers.

All warehouses need to retain effective inventory control, where workers can track all products from the moment of entry to the moment they are shipped. Therefore, any solution needs to be open for integration with other software and systems. The ease of data and information transfer is essential to ensure accuracy and speed.

For instance, uploading any information onto the WMS should then automatically feed through to other systems, such as accounting or ERP. This would help improve the efficiency of order fulfillment, where the data only needs to be inputted once by the receiving and putaway teams, directly leading to an improvement of inventory accuracy.

 

Conclusion

In selecting the best inventory control software for a small business, there are several factors to consider. Much of the focus needs to be on your business and matching with the right solution. Resources, product type, and size of the workforce all influence the decision-making process. Once you have completed the self-evaluation, the next step is to find a reputable provider that can serve your objectives.

In addition, it’s critical to think about the future as well as the present in selecting the WMS. Working with a provider like SmartTurn, you can use a cloud-based solution that can be altered over time. You can start with a basic package that can grow with your business, adding components when you need them. Such an approach can turn your WMS into an asset that fuels productivity and profitability.

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