What are the main features of a WMS?

A warehouse management system (WMS) handles all processes within a logistics platform, from receiving incoming goods, and managing stock and inventories, to picking orders, shipping deliveries, and managing returns. Here’s an overview of the main WMS features.

Managing incoming goods

A WMS software manages incoming goods operations in warehouses, ensuring that the received products match the orders in terms of quantities and product characteristics:

  • Managing delivery notes for incoming goods and checking they comply with the related orders
  • Performing quality-control checks on incoming goods (condition, quality, compliance with standards, expiration date, dispute registration, etc.)
  • Managing cross-docking logistics flows (consolidated, predistributed, and hybrid)
  • Printing bar code labels, inputting logistics data, and updating warehouse stock in real time
  • Issuing real-time notifications for incoming goods receipt and related operations, including for the ERP system and other third-party systems

Managing and optimizing storage locations

A WMS system manages product storage locations and ensures they are positioned optimally within the warehouse:

  • Optimizing available storage space within the warehouse, and dynamically slotting goods according to relevant criteria (rotation rate, seasonality, etc.)
  • Tracking product stock in storage locations and updating stock levels in real time based on actual incoming goods deliveries and picked volumes
  • Organizing storage locations according to product size, weight, classification, seasonality, and rotation rate
  • Managing transfers of products between storage locations by optimizing routes, transfer times, and transferred quantities
  • Tracking storage location fill rates in real time to avoid overstocking and to schedule replenishments according to needs

Optimizing stock and tracking stock moves

A warehouse management system optimizes stock and tracks all stock moves within the warehouse, from receipt of the incoming goods through to shipping:

  • Managing incoming and outgoing products by recording associated stock moves and updating stock levels in real time
  • Managing stock levels and identifying out-of-stock items, as well as tracking transfers between warehouses and goods returns
  • Optimizing stock levels according to customer demand, and triggering replenishments and stock moves as needed to avoid stock-outs and overstocking
  • Tracking stock moves within the warehouse, including transfers between locations, replenishments, returns, restocking moves, order picks, shipments, and more
  • Managing moves for all packaging and handling devices (pallets, cage trolleys, serialized cage trolleys, and more)
  • Managing incoming orders and recording associated stock moves once orders have been picked and shipped
  • Managing stock levels in real time, as well as inventories
  • Logging past stock moves (dates, quantities, locations, etc.)

Managing shipping and transport

A WMS organizes, sequences, and optimizes the picking of customers’ orders so they can be shipped on time. Specifically, here are some key features related to order picking:

  • Managing orders: The WMS receives information from the ERP system or e-commerce platform, records the order characteristics (quantities, products, lead times, etc.), then assigns the pick tasks to operators or mechanized systems
  • Scheduling pick tasks based on incoming orders, available resources, and delivery lead times
  • Managing resources (Labour Management System)
  • Managing the order-picking process by optimizing picking operators’ movements within the warehouse and providing picking instructions, including via technologies such as voice recognition and bar-code scanners
  • Handling co-packing (packaging customization) processes and high-value-added services (gift-wrapping, samples, custom consolidation, etc.)
  • Orchestrating mechanized and automated systems (sorting machines, conveyor systems, stacker cranes, electric pallet trucks, picking robots, etc.) and dynamically allocating pick tasks based on predefined criteria
  • Checking picked orders for compliance (scanning bar codes, checking quantities and weights, etc.)

Managing shipping and transport

Shipping and transport management is another key feature of a WMS, covering the following processes:

  • Managing carriers (contact details, tariffs, tariff calculation and comparison, transport modes, and arrival/departure times) so that the most appropriate carrier can be selected according to the context and the customer’s requirements
  • Generating transport labels, as well as data to be exchanged with carriers’ information systems in electronic data interchange (EDI) format
  • Managing relevant transport documents (such as delivery notes, bills of lading, and invoices) according to the carrier’s requirements and applicable rules (alcohol, hazardous goods, etc.)
  • Managing invoicing and preinvoicing for transport services
  • Sequencing order picking tasks in real time according to transport cut-offs
  • Scheduling shipments according to truck fill rates, delivery lead times, and transport costs
  • Tracking shipments based on real-time information received from third-party systems (delivery status, product recalls, etc.)

Ensuring traceability and regulatory compliance

A WMS ensures the traceability of products in stock—from receipt through to shipping—by recording details such as their origin, serial or batch number, and expiration date. This feature is especially useful for:

  • Quickly locating goods in the warehouse
  • Maintaining compliance with applicable rules (expiration dates, hazardous goods, alcohol, etc.)
  • Making product recalls more efficient

Managing returns (reverse logistics)

A warehouse management system also streamlines the returns management process while reducing the associated costs. It includes the following key features:

  • Receiving and inspecting returned goods (such as recording which products were returned and why, checking their condition, compliance, and expiration date, and more), to determine whether the products can be re-stocked or repaired for subsequent re-selling, or whether they need to be recycled or destroyed
  • Managing product returns (identifying and classifying the products and storing them in dedicated areas of the warehouse)
  • Managing re-stocking so the goods can be re-sold
  • Managing refunds for goods that cannot be re-stocked (e.g. because they are broken, damaged, or defective)

Managing in real-time and reporting

Last but not least, a WMS will necessarily include features for real-time management of logistics operations, as well as for reporting on past performance:

  • The real-time management features cover the scheduling, organization, and oversight of logistics operations, so changes can be made quickly as needs and resources evolve. For instance, the WMS lets logistics managers track stock reports and the progress of order picking tasks, manage human and material resources, optimize pick routes, and more.
  • The reporting features let logistics managers track KPIs such as stock levels, stock rotation rates, average delivery lead times, and customer satisfaction, allowing them to continually optimize logistics operations through informed decision-making.


Leveraging 30 years of R&D, our Reflex WMS warehouse management software optimizes all of these processes. Contact our logistics experts to arrange a personalized demonstration.