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What are the benefits of a WMS for small business?

Are you a fast-growing small business that needs to optimize its logistics operations and processes? Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) is a worthwhile investment, with benefits extending above and beyond stock management and better use of warehousing space. In addition to providing real-time visibility of stock levels and logistics operations, a WMS system boosts operator productivity, raises the bar for customer service by avoiding delays and delivery errors, and makes your business more responsive to demand fluctuations. In this article, we give an overview of the benefits of WMS software for small business.

Why opt for a WMS as a small business?

The reasons why it might be a good idea for a small business to invest in a warehouse management system—and the circumstances of that process—vary from one company to the next. However, the cases we encounter most often in conversations with our customers are as follows:

  • Your business is growing quickly. You need to handle an increasing number of orders without expanding your workforce. A WMS automates warehouse processes and optimizes your logistics operations at a time of rising demand.
  • You need to boost your performance because you’re facing productivity, reliability, or customer-service problems.
  • You’re experiencing frequent order-picking errors, which undermine customer satisfaction and suggest it’s time to move away from manual processes and invest in a more advanced and reliable system.
  • Your logistics teams are struggling to track stock levels accurately or noticing stock errors, which in turn leads to stock shortages or overstocking. And, of course, you lack real-time visibility of your stock and orders.
  • Some deliveries are late, which is causing dissatisfaction among your customers.
  • You need to make better use of available storage space, so you can boost logistics operator productivity and cut storage costs.
  • You’re having to manage an increasing number of items in your warehouse.
  • Your warehouse management operating costs are rising sharply.

What gains can a small business expect from deploying a WMS?

Increased operational performance

Fast-growing small businesses have to process a rapidly expanding volume of orders and deal with increasingly complex logistics demands. Warehouse management software can help you absorb this growth while driving up service standards. A WMS system optimizes all logistics flows in your warehouse—incoming goods, storage, picking, and shipping—providing a boost to team performance and productivity.

 

Better use of storage space

Are you starting to find you’re short on space to accommodate your fast-growing business? A warehouse management system can help you make better use of every square meter of space in your warehouse by optimizing how storage locations are organized according to product size, rotation rate, seasonality, and more. It can also designate storage zones in a way that limits how far have your operators have to travel when picking orders, which in turn reduces preparation and shipping times.

 

Real-time stock management

With a WMS, you get an exact, real-time picture of your items in stock, where each item is located in the warehouse, and stock-level changes following incoming deliveries, picking operations, and shipments. This makes it easier to carry out inventories and reduces the risk of stock errors.

 

Reduced risk of human error

Stock-management and order-picking errors can prove costly. A WMS system reduces the risk of error by doing away with manual data entry and automating stock-move monitoring tasks.

 

Increased customer satisfaction

WMS software also helps boost customer satisfaction by minimizing order-picking errors, speeding up order processing, providing real-time visibility of product availability and delivery lead times, optimizing returns management processes, and more.

 

Real-time visibility of logistics operations

A warehouse management system provides real-time visibility of stock status, stock moves, orders in progress, service levels, and more. With this precise picture of what’s happening in your warehouse, you can make informed decisions—based on reliable data—at any time, whether in relation to replenishment, changes to work processes, reallocation of tasks to comply with transportation cut-off times, operator training, or something else.

 

Tracking logistics costs and economic performance

With a WMS system, you can track costs associated with logistics operations, such as labor costs, storage costs, shipping charges, and more. This, in turn, helps you make decisions that boost warehouse profitability and enhance operational performance.

 

End-to-end traceability management

When it comes to traceability, a warehouse management system automates the process of managing batch and serial numbers, expiration dates, and any other information needed for product identification and tracking—from incoming delivery to shipment.

 

Scalability and adaptability to changing logistics requirements

As your business grows, so too will your warehouse management requirements: you’ll need to manage more stock and orders, incorporate new sales channels, add new logistics sites and warehouses to your network, mechanize or automate some processes, ship to new destinations, manage new products, and more.

Since modern WMS systems for small business are both modular and cloud-based, they can absorb your company’s growth and workload peaks, as well as supporting the addition of extra features over time. In other words, you can start with just the core features then add more advanced modules for mechanized and automated system management, labor management, returns management, batch traceability, and more.

How long does it take to deploy a WMS for small business?

On average, it takes between six and nine months to deploy a warehouse management system in a small business. In some cases, the process can take less than six months, especially if you opt for the standard configuration to begin with and leave the customization until later, once your logistics team is familiar and comfortable with the WMS.

The main phases of a WMS deployment project are detailed below:

  • Analysis phase: the company’s specific logistics processes and needs are analyzed, and WMS configuration requirements are identified, along with the necessary integrations with other systems (ERP system, TMS, etc.).
  • Deployment phase: the WMS is installed and the features are configured.
  • Testing phase: the WMS software is tested in a real-life environment in order to identify any errors or other issues.
  • Go-live phase: the WMS goes live and users receive training.

Which WMS is right for small business?

Generally speaking, a small business has the same requirements as a large organization but operates with fewer resources. It’s therefore important to choose a partner that offers long-term support and a system that:

  • is reliable, modular, scalable, and capable of absorbing your company’s growth and workload peaks
  • is user-friendly and has a short learning curve, especially for operators and temporary staff
  • is backed by a support service and recognized expertise in boosting logistics productivity and optimizing processes and workflows
  • is available in SaaS format that requires no upfront investment—limiting the impact on your cash flow—and is charged on a per-use basis; under this model, WMS system updates are also handled directly by the vendor, and data can be accessed in real time from any location.
  • can easily be integrated with other systems (ERP system, invoicing system, transport management system, e-commerce platform, etc.) through APIs or connectors
  • comes with day-to-day technical assistance, or even 24/7 support.

 

You may also be interested in these other articles:

What are the main features of a WMS?
How to choose a Warehouse Management System (WMS)