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Here's how to choose the best WMS solution for your ecommerce business
Order fulfilment

Here's how to choose the best WMS solution for your ecommerce business

Alka Baranwal
November 10, 2023
mins read

The e-commerce industry is brimming with competition, and new sellers are popping up every day. So, if the competition is so strong, how do you stand out, especially if you’re self-fulfilling? Well, the key lies in leveraging fulfilment and logistics as your competitive edge to gain the upper hand in the market!

To attain this objective, you can streamline your warehouse operations by implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS). With a WMS tool, you can automate tasks, optimize inventory management, and enhance overall efficiency.

However, it's important to note that not all WMS solutions are equal in terms of their quality, functionality, and ease of use. There can be significant variations in these aspects. As a result, selecting the right solution becomes a critical factor in improving your business efficiency and productivity. Before diving head first into what a WMS is and how you can choose the best one for your business, let’s understand what’s not a WMS.

What is not a WMS?

It's crucial to distinguish between a comprehensive Warehouse Management System (WMS) and other tools that may address specific aspects of the fulfilment process. While various solutions claim to enhance warehouse operations, not all are true WMS. Here's a quick guide to what doesn't qualify as a WMS:

  1. Paper Records and Spreadsheets: Such traditional methods are limited by manual processes; a true WMS integrates digital automation for real-time insights and minimized errors.
  2. Shipping Software that Prints Labels from Carriers: Shipping software may be vital for generating labels, but if it doesn't manage end-to-end order fulfilment processes, it isn't a WMS.
  3. An Ecommerce Platform or Storefront: While facilitating sales is important, a Warehouse Management System (WMS) takes it a step further by optimizing warehouse tasks to enhance overall efficiency.
  4. An Inventory Management System (IMS): A standalone IMS masters inventory management but lacks the comprehensive features and capabilities of a true WMS, which orchestrates entire workflows.
  5. An Order Management System (OMS): While an OMS excels in managing orders, it falls short in meeting the demands of warehouse tasks, such as quality checks, packing, and shipping.

These solutions might serve specific purposes but don't constitute a holistic WMS. A genuine WMS seamlessly accommodates various warehouse processes, offering end-to-end visibility and control. Investing in a solution that comprehensively addresses every facet of the fulfilment journey is essential when considering warehouse optimization.

What is WMS in ecommerce?

Efficient warehouse operations undeniably serve as the foundation for any thriving ecommerce venture. Achieving this feat becomes simple with the help of a robust Warehouse Management System (WMS).

WMS goes beyond mere management; it automates and streamlines the entire warehousing process, eliminating the room for human errors and remarkably enhancing accuracy. Let's delve into the key reasons why a WMS is an absolute necessity:

  1. Real-time Inventory Management: Provide precise insights into product availability, storage location, and real-time inventory monitoring from purchase to delivery.
  2. Efficient Receiving and Put-away: Streamline the inbound process, conduct efficient quality checks, and optimize item placement for quicker access.
  3. Optimized Order Picking and Packing: Accelerate the fulfilment process by expediting the picking and packing of items, reducing errors in order fulfilment.
  4. Swift Shipping: Enable quick order dispatch through automated processes like label generation, manifest creation, and efficient package sorting.
  5. Efficient Returns Processing: Facilitate seamless handling of product returns, maintain accurate inventory records, and ensure proper management of returned items.

How to pick the ideal WMS for your business?

Finding a high-quality WMS to upgrade your warehouse operations can be a daunting task. To help you navigate this process, we have compiled a list of key factors that you should consider.

How to pick the ideal WMS for your business? Flowchart

1. If the WMS meets your business requirements

Choosing a WMS that aligns perfectly with your unique business needs is of utmost importance. To ensure that the selected WMS is tailored precisely to your requirements, take into consideration the following factors:

  • Custom Workflows: Different warehouses may have distinct workflows based on their size, industry, or specific operational requirements. A WMS should allow for the customization of workflows to accommodate the unique processes of a business. This includes defining how orders are received, how inventory is picked and packed, and how shipments are processed.

  • Order Processing: A reliable WMS should support various order types, such as single-item orders, bulk orders, or batch orders. This ensures that the system can handle the diverse order processing methods employed by different businesses.

2. If the WMS offers accurate tracking of your inventory

One crucial aspect of a WMS is its ability to accurately track inventory. This feature provides real-time visibility into stock levels, empowering informed decision-making for inventory replenishment, order fulfilment, and overall management.

Depending on your inventory profile, you also need to check whether the WMS offers the type of inventory tracking you require. For instance, if your inventory includes electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, or TVs, having a WMS with serial number tracking becomes essential. Serial number tracking assigns a unique identification number to each item, enabling precise tracking of which unit was sold to which customer.

Serial number tracking in Eshopbox’s WMS

Additionally, when evaluating a WMS, it's important to consider if it supports batch tracking and expiry management capabilities. This becomes particularly crucial for businesses dealing with food, beverages, or medical supplies. By enabling batch tracking, the WMS can effectively group products based on manufacturing or expiry dates, ensuring that items close to expiration are not included in customer orders. This feature plays a vital role in maintaining product quality and customer satisfaction.

Batch tracking on Eshopbox’s WMS

Another fundamental aspect of inventory management that a well-functioning WMS should proficiently handle is the categorization of inventory into sellable and non-sellable items after performing a meticulous Quality Check (QC).

Sellable Inventory: Sellable inventory comprises items that are ready for immediate sale to customers. These products have undergone thorough quality checks and meet the required standards for shipment.

Non-Sellable Inventory: Non-sellable inventory encompasses items that, due to various reasons, are not suitable for direct sale. This category may include damaged goods, expired products, or items awaiting quality checks.

Furthermore, a competent WMS should provide flexible inventory tracking options. You can opt for SKU-level visibility or track items individually using barcodes, enhancing your control over inventory management.

3. If the WMS monitors SLAs

When selling on marketplaces, meeting SLAs can make a world of difference. SLAs, or Service Level Agreements, are contractual agreements between sellers and marketplaces that define the expected level of service sellers must provide to customers. Following these agreements is crucial, as failure to do so can result in penalties and lower ratings. Key aspects of these agreements in online marketplaces include on-time shipping, order accuracy, and efficient returns and refunds.

A robust Warehouse Management System (WMS) plays a vital role in optimizing overall warehouse operations and ensuring SLA compliance. Here are some of the factors a WMS should track to effectively meet SLAs:

  • On-time ready-to-ship rate: It shows the percentage of orders getting packed and ready to ship when they're supposed to.
  • Pickup re-attempt rate: Once the orders are prepared for shipment, if for any reason they are not handed over to the courier partner by the expected time, a pickup reattempt is scheduled. This metric quantifies the percentage of orders requiring a pickup re-attempt.
  • Seller cancellation rate: It is the percentage of orders a seller cancels in an online marketplace due to items being out of stock or not found or if there are quality concerns.
  • Order processing defect rate refers to the frequency of errors or inaccuracies that occur during the processing of orders. These errors can encompass various issues such as incorrect packaging, mis-shipment, and the delivery of damaged items.

Additionally, a well-designed WMS includes comprehensive SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and detailed instructions for every step of the fulfilment process, including inwarding, put-away, picking & packing, shipping, and processing returns.

4. If the WMS manages all types of exceptions

An effective WMS should excel in handling exceptions—unforeseen events or disruptions in the regular workflow that can impact the efficiency of warehouse operations. It should notify you immediately about such events, enabling you to take the necessary actions to resolve them quickly.

Some of the exceptions that a good WMS must manage are:

  1. Stockout Alerts: Receive a warning when your stock is running low or about to be depleted, ensuring you can restock in a timely manner.
  2. Shipping Exceptions: Stay informed about any delays in handover or shipping, missed deliveries, or issues with shipping label generation.
  3. Quality Check Alerts: If certain items fail the quality check, a proficient WMS will mark them as non-sellable inventory and promptly notify the seller.
  4. Risky Orders: A top-notch WMS can identify risky orders with high chances of delivery failure or fraud through comprehensive data analysis. It automatically puts them on hold for you to take proactive measures.

5. If the WMS streamlines the return management

An efficient Warehouse Management System (WMS) should seamlessly handle the complexities of return management, a critical aspect for any ecommerce business. It should be able to systematically handle returned items and automate actions such as inspections, decision-making on restocking, quarantine, refurbishing, disposal, or returning items to suppliers.

Some of the features related to returns management that  you can expect from a WMS are:

  • End-to-end tracking of the return journey of all items
  • Step-by-step quality check (QC)
  • Generate a claim filing report
  • Suggest what should be done with returned items (such as restocking, repair, quarantine, recycling, or disposal)
  • Update inventory levels as per the QC status

6. If the WMS is easy to use for warehouse staff

User-friendliness is a critical factor when selecting a WMS. The system should be super easy for warehouse staff to use and require minimal training. Consider the following aspects:

  • Friendly UI: The user interface (UI) should be clean and straightforward for the staff to understand and execute tasks quickly.
  • Mobile Compatibility: The WMS should load faster and be responsive to different devices, especially mobile phones. So the warehouse staff can perform their tasks efficiently on mobile devices.
  • Training Requirements: Consider the amount of training required for the warehouse staff to use the WMS effectively. Opting for a WMS that demands minimal training accelerates the implementation process.

7. If the WMS offers reports & analytics

To enhance the overall efficiency of your warehouse operations, leveraging reports and analytics is crucial. An advanced Warehouse Management System (WMS) captures a myriad of data points throughout the entire fulfilment process, generating invaluable reports.

Here are some key reports provided by a robust WMS:

  • Inventory Status Report: Offers a snapshot of current inventory levels, helping prevent stockouts or overstock situations.
  • Inventory Forecasting Report: Predicts and offers insights on your high-performing products based on historical data, helping with strategic inventory planning.
  • Order Accuracy Report: Identifies and highlights errors or discrepancies at any stage in the fulfillment process.
  • Order Processing Time Report: Tracks the time from receiving an order to shipping it, offering insights into the efficiency of order processing.
  • Returns Analysis Report: Provides comprehensive insights into the entire return journey of each and every item.
  • Employee Productivity Report: Tracks the performance of warehouse staff in terms of tasks completed and time taken, supporting efficient workforce management.

Leveraging Eshopbox’s WMS for Your Ecommerce Success

Efficient warehouse management can be a daunting task when handled manually. However, by investing in a Warehouse Management System (WMS), you can alleviate your warehousing team from repetitive tasks. This, in turn, leads to improved order accuracy, faster order shipments, and access to valuable data for optimizing warehouse operations.

By leveraging Eshopbox's WMS, you can unlock a multitude of benefits for seamless ecommerce warehousing and fulfillment. Connect with us today to explore how our WMS can transform your ecommerce operations.

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