Best Practices in Warehouse Management System

Warehouse Management plays a major factor in the performance and functions of supply chain operations. Therefore, you need to instal a software that manages your daily operations; enhances productivity; and ensures customer satisfaction which will lead to profits. Warehouse management software helps you in receiving the inventory as well as placing them on the designated shelf; improve the picking and shipping of orders; and get real-time information on the inventory. The software can be a standalone application or it can be integrated into your existing ERP system. 

There are certain perks of using it for your retail business. It helps you in lowering the labor costs; enhance inventory accuracy; improve flexibility; lower the error while picking and shipping the goods; upgrade the customer services. It also helps you in operating with the real-time data as well as helps you in managing the activities like orders, shipments, receipts and intra-warehouse movement of goods. 

So, if you are planning to opt for any management software for your new warehouse or planning to upgrade your existing system, ask these questions:

Below are 10 Key Questions one must ask before opting for any warehouse management software, to get Maximum benefits of their solutions.

1.Can it handle orders from multiple marketplaces?

You must be selling on typically 6-8 marketplaces at the same time. Thus, it is important for any WMS solution that the seller uses should provide him the ability to seamlessly process orders of all marketplaces so that the inventory can be managed accordingly. For example, Unicommerce currently supports 40+ marketplaces, thus making it easier for sellers to manage any marketplace.

2. Does the solution provide you inventory accuracy?

Inventory management is a big headache for sellers, particularly when you have to manage 100+ dispatches every day. Managing the inventory manually, tracking it timely and updating the stock after each day’s sales is a hectic task. And if managed manually, it can lead to errors. 

Any errors in inventory not only result in the working capital loss but also can impact sale volume as the inventory listed on marketplaces is a key factor in determining sales for all online sellers. Thus, an automated system to manage inventory accurately can go a long way in managing complex warehouse operations.

3. Will you be able to manage all the sections of your warehouse?

Most sellers end up doing an ad hoc management of their warehouse, leading to inventory errors, stock-outs, etc. resulting in a lot of mismanagement. It is imperative that the WMS you choose allows you to define zones, bins, locations, etc. so that your warehouse can be neatly organized. 

You can define the zones based on product categories, product velocity (i.e. how fast or slow a particular product is selling) or any other criteria which is important to your business. Most leading WMS solutions still do not have a very comprehensive implementation of this requirement, but some new-age solutions like Unicommerce provide the flexibility to manage the warehouse in a very systematic manner with cycle count enabled and RFID barcode scanning to manage the return as well as maintain the serial number.

4. Is it compatible with various third-party hardware devices? 

With increasing volumes, it is becoming impossible to operate the warehouse manually. Now, the sellers are investing in deploying Bluetooth-based handheld devices to automate key warehouse processes. These handheld devices are not very expensive now and can be procured anywhere in the range of Rs. 5-10k, but add a lot of value in terms of improving productivity and reducing errors, and are able to recover the cost of investment in less than 6 months, if used with a proper system. Unicommerce supports the use of handheld for key warehouse operations and continues to evolve its offering in this regard.

5. Does it help to optimize the picking process?

Using manual or traditional systems typically leads to a lot of inefficiencies in the picking process. Eventually, the picking staff ends up wasting time trying to locate the right product. If they end up picking the wrong product, then it implies time wasted in trying to put the product back and then fetching the right product for dispatch. It ends up leading to monetary loss. Thus, it is important that the WMS solution one uses has inbuilt features like picklists, FIFO based picking etc. to ensure that picking of goods happens in an efficient manner. 


   Figure 1: Sample Picklist format In Unicommerce

6. How easily can you manage returns in the WMS?

For any online seller, returns is a big pain area, as it adds directly to the cost, and every seller continues to grapple with this issue. If returns are managed properly, the profitability of any seller can easily improve by 10-15%, thus it is important that the solution deployed by you is able to handle such a critical process seamlessly. It is important that the solution should be able to scan the item and identify the order against which the return is received. The solution should also be able to reconcile the returns for which the item itself is not received. All these features are already supported in Unicommerce, thus making that solution a preferred tool for handling returns seamlessly without any hassles.

7. Does it have an access control feature?

With data theft and stock pilferage a day to day reality for most sellers, it is important that the solution you choose provides the ability to configure secure access to the system. The solution should provide a definition of roles to the users and grant access to the users based on the roles assigned to them. The roles should also be flexible enough to map all the warehouse processes. For example, Unicommerce provides the flexibility to define up to 9 roles in its solution.

                                                               Different Roles for Different Users

8. Does it provide quality checks?

Due to the regular wear and tear in the warehouse, some stock may not always be in a sellable condition. For example, a stock may be damaged while lying in the warehouse, and the operator may discover the “bad” stock only at the time of the dispatch. Thus, it is important that the WMS you choose allows you the flexibility of doing quality testing at every key checkpoint (inbound, outbound, picking etc.).

9. Does it help in tracking shipments across multiple delivery partners?

Ecommerce sellers have to deal with various shipping providers (marketplace provided shipping, self-shipping etc.) and it’s quite hassling to deal with multiple shipping partners. Thus, it is important that the WMS you choose helps you track shipments across various delivery partners. In addition, the system should allow you the flexibility of defining the priority of shipping providers or build custom rules. For example, fragile items should go through courier X only, or high-value items should go through courier Y only. All this is currently supported in Unicommerce.

10. Does it provide comprehensive analytics to assess your operations?

Analytics is a powerful tool and the insights that you can draw from your WMS solution can be useful in making key business decisions related to growth, productivity, cost, etc. It is important that the WMS solution not only provides comprehensive data but also presents the data in an easily comprehensible manner.

Effective warehouse management translates to having the right amount of the right product at the right location delivered just in time to satisfy customer needs at minimum cost. What are you waiting for? Book your appointment with Unicommerce, the leading supply chain operations management to ease your daily eCommerce as well as a retail  business. 

Author: Archi Bhardwaj
Working as Marketing Associate with India's leading online platform, Unicommerce, supporting ecommerce sellers to process orders and manage inventory online.

1 Comment

  • Hello! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Many thanks!|

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