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Warehouse management is an essential part of the supply chain. It involves activities such as tracking inventory levels and location within the facility, picking and packing inventory, receiving orders, and shipping items.
Although the above description sounds much like inventory management, there are significant differences. One of the key differences is that warehouse management is concerned primarily with operations within a warehouse whereas inventory management is a broader business function not limited to warehouses.
Warehouse management software makes the above-mentioned processes efficient.
We’ll discuss these aspects in greater detail in this buyers guide.
Warehouse management software helps reduce costs associated with handling and moving inventory in and out of warehouses by improving process efficiency. This also optimizes the turnaround time for handling orders, which ultimately fosters better relationships with customers.
The tool allows tracking inventory within a warehouse or distribution center and automating workflows related to RFID/barcode scanning, product location tracking, sorting, counting, etc.
Integration with third-party tools can also enable monitoring equipment such as conveyor systems and packing machines.
You’ll need to understand the deployment options available before selecting a warehouse management system for your business. Here are the two main types of deployments:
Cloud-based deployment: Cloud-based deployment best serves users that want limited upfront investment. It’s so because vendors host the tool on their own or third-party servers, thus making hosting and maintenance costs their responsibility. Users of cloud-based tools simply need to subscribe to some recurring pricing plan, typically charged monthly or annually.
Such tools can be accessed via computers or mobile devices with an internet connection.
On-premise deployment: On-premise deployment involves more upfront costs as users need to host the software on their own servers. This makes support, updates, maintenance, and data storage in-house responsibilities. Users need to acquire the licensed versions of the software, typically available for a one-time fee.
These tools can be accessed via devices installed within business premises.
Key question to ask a vendor before you buy: What are some of the less obvious costs associated with each deployment type?
Gaining an understanding of the common features of warehouse management software will help shortlist products that meet your requirements.
Here are the common features of warehouse management software:
Inventory tracking: Track inventory digitally by using auto-ID data capture (AIDC), radiofrequency detection (RFID), or barcode scanning.
Inventory tracking in Magaya Distribution System
Inventory putaway: Track where an item is stored to enable quick retrieval when required. This involves logging in details such as the bin number, item description, and date and time.
Putaway system in Foysonis WMS
Picking: Optimize the item picking process by using methods such as batch picking, zone picking, and lot picking.
Dock scheduling in PowerHouseWMS
Shipping: Send bills of lading and invoices, generate packing lists, and share assembly instructions and advanced shipment notifications to other facilities.
Shipping workflow in Easyship
Key questions to ask a vendor before you buy: How many of these features does the tool offer? Are these features offered within the same subscription plan?
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
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