Managing a successful eCommerce business requires balancing several core processes. While it doesn’t feel like walking a tightrope, managing inventory and deciding between standalone WMS or integrated systems can be pretty challenging. Why? Each aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring that customers receive their orders without issues or delays. For these reasons and more, warehouse and inventory management is a key part of an online retailer’s supply chain. A well-managed warehouse is instrumental in ensuring growth and supporting development.
Statistics show that online retailers that practice efficient warehouse management hygiene are more likely to fulfill orders and deliver packages to customers on time. On top of that, companies that invest in inventory and warehouse management strategies lower inventory costs by 10%.
Incorporating warehouse management systems or WMS in operation can do wonders for its supply chain. It is essential to understand the pros and cons of the WMS options.
What is a Warehouse Management System?
Warehouse management systems are software designed to create and optimize an operation’s supply chain process. Different warehouse management products offer a variety of features. However, for the most part, these applications can:
- Optimize the inventory receiving process.
- Improve product storage and pallet management.
- Perform warehouse and inventory audits.
- Monitor stock availability.
- Reorder items at critical levels.
There are two general types of warehouse management systems – standalone WMS and Integrated WMS.
Standalone WMS versus Integrated WMS
There are pros and cons to using standalone WMS or integrated WMS. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for warehouse and inventory management. It still depends on a retailer’s preferences and priorities.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to have an informed business decision. That’s why crucial to know about each option’s benefits and drawbacks:
Standalone WMS: Pros & Cons
As the name suggests, standalone WMS is a specialized software designed solely to handle supply chain, inventory, and logistics processes. Standalone WMS focuses on two core supply chain aspects – inventory management and warehouse operations. Because of its limited features, this option is best for smaller operations that do not have complex integrations.
- Affordable Upstart Cost
As mentioned earlier, Standalone WMS is the perfect choice for newer eCommerce operations that are still developing their supply chain and logistics processes. More often than not, because of its limited capabilities, standalone WMS is the most cost-effective WMS type.
- Internal Integration Capabilities
While standalone WMS software only handles inventory management and warehouse operations, most options have internal integrations. It means that retailers can incorporate the current systems they are using without a total overhaul.
- Limited Scope
There is only so much a retailer can do with standalone WMS software. It isn’t the most convenient and efficient application because it requires other software to run the entire warehouse. The compartmentalized systems fail to provide employees with all the information needed to make quick inventory decisions. This option comes with a lot of friction.
- Lack of Real-time Information
A warehouse should be a well-oiled machine. All the cogs should be working together to push products out and deliver them to customers without any issues or delay. Standalone WMS applications isolate warehouse and inventory management steps from the rest of a company’s core competencies.
Integrated WMS: Pros & Cons
Integrated WMS is the direct opposite of standalone warehouse management applications as it combines all operational processes in one singular interface.
It could include warehouse operations, inventory management, order processing, returns processing, accounting, human resources, and product procurement.
- Centralized Information
Integrated WMS applications allow all employees access to the same kind of data. An operation can enjoy more efficient workflows and fewer errors with centralized information because the data is focused, accurate, and updated in real-time.
While standalone WMS, on its own, is less expensive than integrated systems, integrated warehouse management applications are more cost-effective in the long run. This solution allows companies to forgo the cost of paying for multiple applications for each facet of the operation.
- Steep Learning Curve
Integrated WMS applications can be complex. There is a learning curve for learning the core features of these systems.
Benefits of Using WMS
The benefits of using WMS applications, integrated or otherwise, are undeniable. These technologies are powerful in generating valuable data. It keeps track of inventory movement, product demand, and the efficacy of various sales channels. Through these applications, retailers can take a data-driven approach to critical business decisions.
Likewise, warehouse management systems provide a means for operators to remain competitive within the cutthroat eCommerce industry. It is a tool that bolsters the supply chain and logistics process. It lessens delays and boosts order fulfillment. Through optimizing the operational process, WMS systems can also reduce processing costs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right WMS for your Company
Warehouse management systems are significant investments. Beyond the cost, choosing the proper application takes plenty of time and diligence. As with most software, not all WMS options are created equal. Retailers must find software that fits their needs.
When choosing the right WMS for an operation, there are several things to consider. In making the decision, it is important to consider the amount of training required to learn the system. The most sophisticated smart warehouse will be for naught if employees do not know how to use it to its full potential. The haste in which employees can get up to speed is critical during peak periods when operations hire temporary workers.
The right WMS software should grow and scale with the company. There should be features that accommodate an operation’s goals and future capacity. The last thing most retailers want is to shift to another WMS once the business starts to ramp up.
Managing and protecting inventory should be the top priority for all eCommerce retailers. Warehouse Management Systems come with an upstart cost. However, the expenditure is well worth the payoff.
Looking for the right warehouse management system for your operation? You have come to the right place.
At ZhenHub, we can provide you with a tech-driven warehouse management system that can help efficiently and effectively manage your business operations. For more information about our services, reach out to ZhenHub today. You can also sign up for our one-stop tech-powered logistics solution to make warehousing, order fulfillment, and inventory management implementations easier and more rewarding.