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Key Functions of a Warehouse Management System for SMEs

Posted: May 12, 2020 by Ly Phan

Key Functions of a Warehouse Management System for SMEs

As any small business owner knows, keeping control over budgets is a constant challenge. Therefore, it can be tempting to save costs in the short-term and rely on paper-based systems to run warehouse operations. However, over the long-term, such an approach can incur unintended costs through inefficiencies and human error. The solution is in cloud technology and understanding the key functions of a warehouse management system.

By using a cloud-based solution, SMEs will be able to enjoy the benefits of enterprise software without the hefty price-tag. In addition, due to the flexible nature of cloud technology, businesses will be able to customize the software to suit their requirements. 

 

How Cloud Technology Works

In short, the cloud is a series of networks controlled by providers for storing and sharing information. It can be hosted by a single server, either virtual or physical, and can be accessed using an internet connection. SmartTurn is one such vendor focusing on delivering warehouse management solutions through the cloud.

SmartTurn’s cloud-based WMS works on a subscription model, with packages starting at $500 a month, and options to add features. Each client will have access to their own secure network, which is hosted off-site and can be managed remotely. Managers can control access to the platform, reflecting the needs of specific workers. 

For example, the putaway team requires a different set of information than the shipping teams. By controlling the access, businesses can ensure clear and effective communication leading to slick operations, which enjoy over 99% inventory accuracy.

At SmartTurn, we designed our cloud-based solution to be easy and efficient to use, with minimal training required. Each worker can watch a free training video and be able to use the system through mobile devices within hours. Also, our software can integrate with different platforms, including ERP, accounting, and shipping.

The idea is to allow businesses to plug the cloud WMS into their existing processes and hit the ground running, further minimizing disruption and associated costs. However, to get the most out of SmartTurn’s solution, it’s essential to master its functions.

 

Key Functions

Efficient Inventory Control

A core appeal of using warehouse management software is that it allows streamlined business processes and leads teams to informed decisions. Increased efficiency in inventory control also leads to significant savings and increased revenues, including one client finding an extra $15,000 a month through using SmartTurn.

 

Automated Processes

Through the automation of processes, businesses can increase productivity among the workforce. For instance, using barcode scanners to check stock can save significant time each day - allowing teams to handle more stock daily.

 

Stock Management

With stockouts costing retailers more than losing a sale, businesses must stay on top of stock management. Utilizing SmartTurn’s WMS, warehouses can keep track of stock levels and set up automatic alerts in advance of products dipping below pre-set levels. In doing so, it prevents any potential issues before they emerge.

The importance of small business stock control is underlined by the fact stockouts can cost companies up to $1 trillion in lost sales each year. For SMEs already operating on tight margins, managing stock levels can be the difference between profit and loss.

 

Forecasting

Cloud-based WMS has the ability to analyze data in real-time, providing invaluable insight into performance and forecasting. The in-depth analysis helps companies predict supply and demand, through monitoring and recording behavior. This can prove useful during peak seasons, such as religious holidays or sporting events, which can impact specific industries.

In addition, the analytical power of cloud WMS enables businesses to gain insight into key performance metrics. For example, managers can use the software to track inventory as it moves through the warehouse, finding the most optimal routes and minimize handling.

 

Picking and Shipping

Finding the most efficient method in the pick and pack process can be a complex task. There are several different considerations, including:

  1. Warehouse layout: The distance from the storage area to shipping stations can have a significant impact on pick and pack times. A common tactic is placing the most popular products close to the loading bays, cutting the time it takes for workers to locate and pick. The software also gives managers the ability to retain oversight and optimize the layout.
  2. Locating products: As well as optimizing the layout so teams can quickly identify and pick the products, scanning technology can aid this process further. By using RFID tags, workers can find items outside their line of sight, enabling them to find the necessary items within seconds. Each of these gains can accumulate to several working hours a day. 
  3. Shipping routes: The analytical power of SmartTurn’s solution can help teams to identify optimal delivery routes. By incorporating multiple drop-off points in one trip, companies will be able to reduce fuel costs and complete order fulfillment efficiently.

Another element to consider is the different picking methods. While smaller warehouses tend to lean towards “piece picking,” which means fulfilling orders as they come in, it may not be the best approach for growth. As business increases, such a method would quickly run out of capacity, lead to missed orders, and dissatisfied customers. 

Therefore, warehouse managers should consider implementing a wave picking strategy, where teams are responsible for designated products. This way, the picking can be conducted simultaneously, with the packing being done by separate teams. Using SmartTurn’s WMS to manage the process, companies will be able to increase capacity and revenue significantly.

 

Integration

A vital function of cloud WMS is its ability to integrate with external software or systems, such as Quickbooks and Netsuite. At SmartTurn, we consider it to be an essential feature that enables our WMS to serve as a hub for business processes.

The ability to integrate with different systems means cloud WMS is able to slot into existing business processes, minimizing disruption, and generating a return on investment from day one. 

 

Mastering the Functions of Cloud WMS

Identifying the key functions of cloud WMS is the first step. The next is to empower your teams to master those functions and maximize productivity. At SmartTurn, we utilize decades of experience with software and working with companies to provide support for businesses.

One of the main benefits of going with a cloud-based solution is you can pick the features that suit the requirements of your business. The subscription model, which is followed by SmartTurn, allows complete flexibility over costs and scalability. 

As a growing business, budgets and needs will change over time, and a cloud-based WMS solution will be able to scale with you. By mastering the functions of SmartTurn’s software, you have the opportunity to take your company to the next level.

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