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Posts tagged “wms

Warehouse Management Software Buyer Trends

We would like to share a new research report by Forrest Burnson, the Managing Editor for Software Advice, an organization that  provides detailed reviews, comparisons, and research to help other organizations choose the right software to meet their needs.

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Every year, Software Advice speaks to hundreds of businesses that are searching for the best warehouse management system (WMS) to fit their needs. These interactions give them tremendous insight into the needs of WMS buyers across a wide assortment of industries. They recently analyzed a random selection of 385 of these interactions to examine the main reasons buyers are seeking new WMS software.

Some key findings include:

  • Among big businesses, 72% wanted barcoding capabilities, and nearly one-fifth wanted RFID tracking capabilities.

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  • More than one-third of buyers are currently using manual methods (e.g. pen and paper) as their warehouse management solution.

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  • More than 25% of 3PL firms wanted a WMS that offers EDI capabilities.

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If you are in the process of evaluating potential WMS solutions or would like to simply learn out more about their findings, you can find the rest of their research here: warehouse management software buyer trends

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Top Reasons for Considering an On-site WMS Solution over Cloud-Based

On-Site WMS Solutions

If you are a participant in the rapidly growing and increasingly competitive 3PL market space, you know you are forced to constantly evaluate every aspect of your operations. As information technology plays an increasingly vital role in all elements of logistics, making the right decisions today often determine your ability to succeed tomorrow. One of the pressing issues for many providers today is the issue of relying upon on-premise or cloud IT services.

Warehouse Management Systems

Grappling with everything from transportation to billing to warehouse management presents a complex challenge for many small to mid-sized companies. For those involved in any aspect of warehouse and distribution center management, the solutions begin at the choice of an effective WMS.

The initial decision you face is choosing between one of two directions. The first approach is the traditional method of installing a proprietary system onsite with total, local control of the hardware, software, and network. The second option is to access your WMS through the cloud, relying on the services of a cloud-based data center.

If you turn to the cloud, you face another decision. You can still choose your own, custom WMS, or you can use a web-based product sold as a Software as a Service WMS. There are, then, two key parts of your decision-making process. These are:

  • Keep your WMS customized and proprietary, whether it is on local hardware or managed via the cloud
  • Turn to a more generic, cloud-based WMS that you use in a SaaS environment

Develop Your Scorecard

In coming to a solution that is right for your business, you will balance a number of issues ranging from short-term installation costs to long-term ability to get the job done. If you are trying to decide between a custom installation and SaaS, here are a number of factors to include in that scorecard:

  1. The problem with “one-size fits all.” For all the benefits of a cloud-based SaaS product, the simple fact is that when it comes to effective WMS, it is rare for one package to provide the flexibility and functionality your circumstances requires. Be careful when compromising on essential features when a “simpler solution” seems attractive.
  2. Integration with automated warehouse and handling equipment. One area many packaged systems fall short is full integration with existing and to-be-purchased handling equipment. This usually represents a large capital investment that reflects your specific warehouse operations and needs. Any WMS that does not offer full capabilities in this area presents a major challenge to operational efficiency.
  3. Customer responsiveness. As with your warehouse infrastructure, you have built a customer base with your own style of operations and service. Be wary of any standard WMS that requires you to tinker with that formula of success. Likewise, always remember that your customers are interested in results, not with conforming to your IT needs.
  4. Accountability. If you have a vendor providing your own customized solution, they are accountable and responsive to you. Dealing with a remote vendor serving many customers with a packaged or even slightly modified package often presents problems.
  5. Legal issues. While your cloud SaaS vendor will provide a service agreement, many companies are unaware of their exposures if that remote vendor or data center fails or has other problems. Recapturing your applications and stored data presents a real, if minor, risk to your continuity of operations.

While the cloud is here to stay, the solution that works for you may include an onsite installation. Properly considering your options is the first step in making that decision.

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Logistics Management in Third-Party Logistics

Logistics Management

Logistics management is essential in today’s global marketplace, whether you run a small shop that handles a few tons of merchandise each year, or your company ships and receives from multiple warehouses in far-flung locales. The last thing you want is to lose products, waste time or squander any operational resource because of inefficient third-party logistics (3PL). Luckily, 3PL solutions helps you solve logistics problems in warehouse settings, especially as they relate to increasing ROI, efficiency and productivity. Effective 3PL software provides the following 9 key benefits to your logistics management:

1. Security

3PL software is more expansive that a typical warehouse management system (WMS). It integrates several layers of security, which is an essential feature if your company handles sensitive materials or private products with high confidentiality options. In what is now the Internet’s era, data can be accessed via the cloud, so it’s good to have strong encryption layers in your 3PL application.

2. Reliability

You don’t want a WMS that malfunctions in the middle of an important shipment, do you? Nobody wants to lose money because of unreliable software, so choosing a solid program like 3PL software indirectly increases your ROI, logistical efficiency and customer satisfaction levels.

3. Transparency

Everything is transparent in a 3PL management suite. You see what goes out, what comes in, the final inventory balance and with which various logistics services providers you’re partnering. The beauty of the program is that you can track everything everywhere all the time.

4. 3PL Invoicing

Your ROI goes up when you can correctly bill customers on time. Inefficiency is no longer an issue in your operations when you use a 3PL program, because the system automatically generates invoices based on inputted data. Make sure that you key in proper codes, data and pricing information for all clients to make the most out of your 3PL program.

5. Item Ownership at the Warehouse Location Level

You can track item ownership at the warehouse level, an important feature that gives you peace of mind when you handle several different items at multiple locations. Whether it is raw material, a work-in-process or a finished product, the software helps you track inventory in real time.

6. Self-Service: Customer Access to Their Data

Logistics problems often arise when clients can’t access or see their inventory data in the supply chain. With 3PL software, this is one headache you won’t have to worry about. 3PL software embeds functionalities that add value to clients through real-time and effective access to their shipping, receiving and ending-balance information.

7. Multiple Communication Channels

Multi-channel communication is another highly-valued feature in a 3PL program. Unlike the standard WMS, which manages inventory within proprietary warehouses for one company, 3PL management software takes care of logistics for thousands of client-owned products. Multiple communication channels become essential here as each client has specific requirements about the way products are manufactured, invoiced, packed and shipped. These channels include everything from cloud-based services to email and built-in messaging features.

8. Cost Tracking

It’s good to bill customers on time and correctly, but it’s even better to track costs for those clients. That way, you add value to clients’ operations by showing them not only their logistics expenses, but also their operational costs such as materials, labor and production overhead. Providing such services boosts your company’s bottom line and ROI because it adds tangible value to clients, which increases their loyalty and improves your brand’s reputation.

9. Industry Standard Flexibility

3PL applications have industry standard flexibility, meaning they give you state-of-the-art features as well as options that abide by the latest government regulations and industry best practices.

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