A key issue that comes to the forefront of any discussion on handling e-commerce demand will always involve warehouse management system (WMS) or other supply chain system upgrades. System upgrades are a terrific way to enhance productivity, increase efficiency, and provide real benefits to workers and stakeholders. Unfortunately, merely implementing a WMS itself is not enough to truly maximize its value. Supply chain leaders need to understand the challenges of implementation, how using a WMS maximizes profitability in the age of e-commerce, and a few tips to ensure its success.
WMS Challenges That Decrease ROI From E-Commerce
Challenges of implementing a WMS, including employee resistance, can harm new system ROI. In addition, these challenges can lead to a hostile work environment, higher employee turnover and higher costs of fulfilling orders. Some of the top challenges of using a WMS for e-commerce, explains Roberth Karlsson via LinkedIn, include:
- Single-item purchases.
- Changing state of logistics.
- Poor employee performance.
- Labor-intense receiving and put away processes.
- Lack of visibility in data and inventory.
- The proliferation of SKUs.
- Limited labor resources.
Why a WMS Is Key to E-Commerce ROI
The use of an integrated WMS is the best way to overcome the challenges in implementation. As the system impacts the operation, workers will understand its value. Modern WMS platforms allow for full scalability, and cloud-based security alleviates many cybersecurity concerns. Meanwhile, the changing state of logistics will require more integration with new systems, including those created by third-party logistics providers (3PLS). Instead of trying to handle each challenge with antiquated, legacy systems, supply-chain leaders should seriously consider implementing a new WMS and letting its benefits do the proverbial talking. Of course, following a few best practices to better leverage a WMS will always help.
Best Practices to Maximize WMS Value for E-Commerce
As explained by Bridget McCrea via Supply Chain 24/7, some of the best practices for leveraging a WMS for e-commerce include:
- Rethink how you pick orders. Traditional methods of picking a single order to time are obsolete in the age of e-commerce.
- Integrate facilities. Integrating your facilities with your WMS ensures minimal disruption for planned maintenance and other needs.
- Design the warehouse with an omnichannel mindset. Omnichannel requires an entirely different mindset, knowing products may be fulfilled at and sent to an infinite number of locations.
- Automate WMS processes. Automating data entry and tracking processes can reduce the opportunity for error and ensure accuracy and all data insights.
- Know the data behind your operation. Understanding the data behind the action, including employee performance, cycle times, metrics, and other key performance indicators will enhance ROI.
- Take advantage of existing retail space to fulfill e-commerce orders. Vacant retail space abandoned by other retailers is an opportunity to move order fulfillment closer to consumers, especially in urban centers.
- Connect your WMS to customer service portals. As explained by Erhan Musaoglu via DC Velocity, automatically tracking consumer behaviors helps you connect and understand their needs/values.
Bringing Omnichannel to the Forefront of E-Commerce
Get the Most From Your WMS With the Right Supply Chain Systems Partner
Finding the best way to maximize return on investment for your WMS can be difficult, but it is possible. To truly augment the capability of your WMS and achieve the most significant ROI, you must integrate systems and understand how to use and apply data.