Gartner defines a warehouse management system (WMS) as a software application that helps manage and intelligently execute the operations of a warehouse, distribution, or fulfillment center.
A WMS is used by organizations to administer, control, and manage the warehousing aspect of their entire supply chain.
Let’s take a look at the four most important modules a WMS should have in order to effectively handle supply chain management.
Inventory management module
This is the core module of any WMS, and an integral part of supply chain management. This module assists in the supervision of the flow of goods from manufacturers to warehouses, and from these facilities to the point of sale.
A few of the essential features this module ought to possess are:
Product tracking: This feature lets users track the product as it enters the warehouse and when it leaves to the point of sale. It also tracks returned products from the point of sale to the warehouse. A variety of data is used to keep track of the commodities as they move through the supply chain. This includes, but is not limited to, barcodes, serial numbers, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
Stock supervision: This feature is essential for stakeholders to accurately gauge the ability of the warehouse to meet the demand for commodities. It provides insights into stock replenishment and stock quantity updation, and also assists in automatically generating purchase orders for commodities that are low in stock. Another functionality core to this feature is it’s ability to alert stakeholders about stock availability.
Inventory optimization: An optimized inventory maximizes profit and minimizes loss. It enables warehouses to accurately track vital supply chain metrics, such as correctly gauging lead demand, stock cover, reorder points, and forecast accuracy.
Ideally, this module possesses features that allow the seamless receipt of goods and commodities into the warehouse. This module has features like:
- Generation of receipt orders for multiple types of commodities.
Label generation and verification for incoming commodities.
Appointment scheduling, to make sure that incoming commodities are received by the warehouse floor staff when they arrive at the warehouse, avoiding unnecessary wait times for carriers, due to the nonavailability of warehouse personnel. This will ensure sustaining a positive carrier-warehouse relationship.
Yard management, to monitor the location of trailers, containers, and load status. This feature is essential to maintaining variable parameters, such as dock and warehouse capacity.
Order fulfillment module
Order processing and fulfillment comes into play when the inventory has been sorted and arranged on the shelves in the warehouse. Order fulfilment forms a vital component of order processing, and supply chain organizations should have an effective, well-implemented order fulfilment system in place to efficiently receive, process, and ship a variety of products.
This module should possess features such as:
Demand planning and shaping: By accurately forecasting the demand for products, they can be delivered more efficiently and reliably.
Logistics planning: This is essential for effective supply chain connectivity. Proper logistics planning is crucial to satisfying and retaining customers.
Time-consuming inventory management tasks: Inventory management tasks come with a lot of operational overhead. Increasing the efficiency of inventory management saves organizations time and money.
Streamlining order picking and packing: As orders keep coming in, quickly processing them is a necessity.
Accurately tracking shipments: Tracking shipments provides peace of mind to both the logistics company and the anxious customers tracking their orders.
Reducing errors in shipping orders: This leads to accurate order fulfillment.
Order/shipment entry, to track orders as they’re placed.
Work-in-process materials tracking.
Returns processing, to take care of returns. This assists the reverse logistics arm of the supply chain.
The main expectation from the shipping module of the WMS is its seamless integration with the transportation management system (TMS) of the supply chain. This synergy is essential for flawless delivery of the customer’s orders, and reverse logistics.
Some of the crucial features the shipping module of a WMS should possess are:
Shipment notifications: Timely SMS and email notifications sent at each stage of the supply chain process is vital in ensuring logistics excellence and customer satisfaction. The shipping module must support integration with all the other modules to keep stakeholders notified at all times.
Invoice generation and management: The processing of invoices, including the application of various charges, such as VAT and other applicable taxes on the invoices, is vital in ensuring the economical integrity of the supply chain.
Voice picking: Voice picking, commonly known as voice-directed warehousing (VDW), refers to the use of voice direction and speech recognition software in warehouses and distribution centers. It provides up to 99.99% order accuracy, a 20% improvement in productivity, and eliminates the need for double-checking by supervisors. Voice picking helps achieve lean warehouse operations.
Choosing the right WMS software
When it comes to choosing the right WMS software, one has to evaluate many factors. ERP solutions are expensive, complicated to implement, and difficult to maintain. Off-the-shelf WMS software will be generic in terms of the features they offer, and can’t be customized.
An alternative is to develop WMS software by hiring software developers to do the job. However, this is difficult, as traditional software development is time-consuming, and hiring programmers is expensive.
This is where low-code application development platforms like Zoho Creator come into the picture. Any personnel from the logistics industry, with no prior programming experience, can build applications using Zoho Creator, because of its short learning curve and ease of use.
Utilize the capabilities of Zoho Creator to build your custom WMS solution and reap the rewards, like one-click creation of mobile applications, 10x faster application development, and huge savings.