As a retailer, your warehouse acts as the backbone of your company.
Sure, the storefront, whether it’s a standard brick and mortar storefront or an online web store, is where sales and transactions are taking place, but the warehouse is the backbone holding the entire operation together. If your warehouse isn’t running smoothly, your storefront, sales, and day-to-day operations will surely be affected.
In order to streamline warehouse operations, many retailers look to Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to assist in their inventory management processes; organization, picking, shipping, and in general, keeping an accurate count of what’s on hand, where it is, and what is free to sell.
But with so many WMS out there, how do you even begin deciding which system is the best fit for your company?
Several Factors Come Into Play When Deciding on the Right WMS
- Integration Features
- Reporting Data
- User-friendly Interfaces
- Server-based or Web-based Data Storage
- Technical Support
You need to identify the specific needs of your company, and what goals you want to accomplish with your WMS before you can even begin to research what WMS might be best for your company
You should know your company’s needs, goals, and processes that need improvement. Knowing this information about your company will help your WMS provider understand exactly the kind of implementations you want to make within your warehouse.
The retail and eCommerce community is a vibrant one with many companies and individuals posting articles, blogs, and reviews daily. Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice from the eCommerce world. Ask other owners what their solution was, read software reviews and attend eCommerce conferences to further your knowledge on what software might best benefit your company. Use this opportunity to not only research potential WMS, but also to network.
So now you’ve done your homework on your own company; time do your homework on the numerous WMS that are available.
All warehouse management systems are going to offer a basic account of your inventory in one way or another, but not all systems are going to offer technical support.
Implementing a whole new process to your warehouse is a lofty project not to be taken lightly. Even if a WMS seems to offer every feature you are looking for, what good is it without technical assistance to help implement within your warehouse? What if you implement the software successfully, but 6 months after implementation the system crashes? There are way too many negative variables to take into consideration to fully trust a WMS that does not offer technical support.
[What is SkuVault Warehouse Management Software?]
Upon Support Investigation, Consider:
- Is the technical support offered a voice-automation system, a ticketed Q&A e-mail response system, or one-on-one phone support with a trained support team?
- If a support team is offered, will you be speaking with the same technician every time (someone who can learn and understand your warehouse processes), or will you be speaking with a different technician every time?
- Is technician support only offered during regular business hours or do they offer 24/7 support?
It’s also important to look to the future and consider where you want your company to be in the coming years.
Currently, you may be a brick and mortar store, but in the next few years will you expand into eCommerce retail? If so, you’ll want a WMS that supports eCommerce retail and integrates with the most popular online marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Shopify, etc.).
If you are currently an eCommerce retailer, consider the online marketplaces you currently sell on, and the shipping solution you use. You’ll want a WMS that is capable of integrating or working alongside the software solutions you currently use within your company.
How much do you plan on growing your business in the coming years? A good WMS should have the capabilities of growing alongside your company. Sure, any WMS can probably account for your current inventory, but what if your inventory doubles? Triples? There is no point in investing both time and money into a WMS that your company will quickly outgrow. You want to invest in one that is not only capable of growing with your company, but capable of helping your company grow.
Look for WMS Designed With a User-friendly Interface
A WMS without a user-friendly interface will not allow your staff to maximize its capabilities. If the interface is confusing and difficult to understand, then this will surely slow warehouse processes – which is the opposite of what a WMS should be doing.
A good WMS interface should allow you to quickly access accurate warehouse quantity levels, locations of your inventory, picking and shipping data, and sales reports all within a few clicks. If the interface does not allow you to easily navigate through this kind of vital information, then that particular WMS is probably not worth your time.
Web-based or Server-based
A web-based WMS virtually stores your data on the Internet – allowing you to access your warehouse inventory information from your phone, laptop or tablet from any location (as long as you have Wi-Fi).
A server-based WMS stores your inventory information on a local server, and can only be accessed from a single computer.
Because server-based WMS use a physical, tangible hard drive to store data, your information is susceptible to data loss/corruption from fires, thefts, power outages or general hard drive failure. A web-based WMS does not use a tangible server/hard-drive to store your data. This allows for on-the-go inventory management, and doesn’t require any physical software installation on your computer.
Choosing the right WMS for your company can be stressful due to all of the important details that need to be taken into consideration. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly or made with haste. Once you have researched your own company’s needs, we hope that you will consider using SkuVault for your inventory management needs.
We designed SkuVault with the eCommerce retailer in mind. Since 2011, we’ve been working to perfect our WMS. We’ve been in constant contact with retailers and warehouse managers to get their opinions on what works best when it comes to inventory management. Our software is constantly evolving. We are constantly making improvements and adding system updates that cater to the needs of eCommerce retailers.
Through our research, we’ve learned that technical support, expansive software updates, and user-friendly design and interface are three of the biggest, most essential features in an inventory management system. That’s why, when we started designing SkuVault, we made sure these features were tightly woven into the core of our system. This is not to say that there aren’t dozens if not hundreds of other features to take into consideration. These, however, are the ones we believe most essential to improve warehouse functionality. Click below to try a free demo today.