Automated warehouse systems for e-commerce. How to choose?
Automated warehouse systems for e-commerce. How to choose?
Automated warehouse systems are becoming an indispensable tool for companies seeking to optimize logistics processes and meet the expectations of demanding customers. With the rapid growth of e-commerce, online stores are facing more and more competition and challenges in effective warehouse management. Thanks to automation, the warehouse becomes more efficient and order handling is quick and flawless. In this article, I explore the topic of automated warehousing systems for e-commerce and discuss the key steps to take when choosing the ideal solution.
Table of Contents
WMS system what it is – definition
A WMS (Warehouse Management System) is advanced software designed to manage and optimize warehouse operations in companies. The main purpose of the WMS is to provide effective inventory management, track the movement of goods and streamline the processes involved in receiving, storing and issuing products.
Here are the main features and functions of the WMS:
Inventory management: The WMS allows accurate tracking of the number of products in stock and the availability of individual SKUs. This avoids shortages of goods and excessive surpluses.
Space optimization: a WMS helps make efficient use of warehouse space by optimally arranging goods and adjusting capacity for different products.
Order management: The WMS enables order scanning and order processing, which speeds up the picking and issuing process.
Shipments and deliveries: The WMS enables the scheduling and monitoring of goods deliveries, allowing for accurate delivery dates and optimal use of resources.
Goods tracking: With a WMS, you can accurately track the movement of goods from delivery to release to the customer. This allows you to monitor the status of your orders in real time.
Integrations: The WMS can integrate with other systems in the company, such as ERP, e-commerce and transportation systems, ensuring a smooth flow of information.
Reporting: the WMS generates reports and analysis on inventory, operation efficiency and other important parameters.
Error handling: The WMS helps minimize errors, such as picking mistakes and overstocking, through verification processes and tracking user activity.
Planning assistance: A WMS can assist in planning warehouse tasks such as picking, loading and issuing goods, making operations more efficient.
WMS systems are particularly useful for companies that have large inventories, work in a multi-channel model, or need to optimize warehouse processes to increase efficiency and inventory control. The choice of a specific WMS should be tailored to the specifics and needs of the company.
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When is it worth implementing a WMS for e-commerce?
There are situations that are a clear signal that it is particularly worth considering the introduction of this type of solution. Here are some moments when you should start thinking about implementing a WMS in your business
- Growing stocks. If your inventory is growing and becoming difficult to control manually, a WMS can help you manage the process effectively. Automated tracking of the quantity of goods and their distribution can prevent excessive surpluses or shortages of goods.
- Increased order volume. When the number of orders increases, manual management of the picking and issuing process becomes less efficient and more prone to error. The introduction of a WMS can streamline and speed up these operations.
- Multichannel. If you sell products on different e-commerce platforms, integrating your WMS with these platforms will allow you to better synchronize your inventory and avoid situations where goods are available on one platform and have run out on another.
- Errors in the process. If you’re having problems with errors in your picking, packing or delivery process, your WMS can put in place verification processes that will reduce the risk of mistakes.
- Product complexity. If you offer a lot of different products, a WMS will help you stay organized and effectively manage different types of goods.
- Efficiency and productivity. If you want to increase the efficiency and productivity of your warehouse operations, such as by optimizing the placement of goods or automating certain processes, a WMS can help you achieve these goals.
- Business expansion. When you plan to expand your e-commerce business, a WMS allows you to seamlessly scale your warehouse operations.
- Seasonality. If your company operates in a seasonal industry where orders and demand are irregular, a WMS will help you manage effectively during busy periods.
It’s worth noting that implementing a WMS is a process that may require some time, resources, and customization to suit the specifics of the company. Before deciding on implementation, it is worthwhile to carefully analyze your needs, goals, and be prepared to adjust your processes and train your employees.
What are the benefits of implementing a WMS?
Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) brings many benefits to businesses, regardless of their size or industry. Here are the main benefits of implementing a WMS:
Effective inventory management
The WMS allows you to accurately track the amount of goods in your warehouse, which helps you avoid shortages or excessive surpluses. This can optimize inventory levels and reduce storage costs.
A WMS helps make efficient use of warehouse space through optimized placement of goods. This, in turn, saves space and costs associated with a larger storage area.
Reduce picking time
With a WMS, the order picking process can be automated, speeding up lead times and improving customer service.
The WMS introduces verification processes and automated labels, which reduces the risk of errors in warehouse processes such as picking and packing.
Tracking of goods
The WMS allows accurate tracking of the movement of goods from delivery to release to the customer. This allows you to monitor the status of orders and deliveries in real time.
Improve data accuracy
With a WMS, data on the amount of goods in stock, location and movement history is more accurate, contributing to better inventory control.
The WMS enables delivery planning and route optimization, which can help reduce transportation costs and improve delivery efficiency.
The WMS can integrate with other systems in the company, such as ERP, e-commerce and transportation systems, ensuring a smooth flow of information and streamlining operations.
Access to real-time data
The WMS provides access to real-time, up-to-date data on inventory, orders and deliveries, making it easier to make quick and accurate decisions.
Reporting and analysis
The WMS generates reports and analysis on the efficiency of warehouse operations, allowing better monitoring of performance and strategic decision-making.
A WMS makes it easy to scale your business, enabling you to effectively manage larger volumes of goods, orders and deliveries.
By reducing lead times and improving delivery accuracy, the WMS contributes to customer satisfaction.
Implementing a WMS can be an investment that brings long-term benefits by streamlining warehouse processes, reducing costs and improving customer service.
Examples of WMS systems
Description of sample WMS systems and their applications:
is a well-known Polish IT company that offers a variety of solutions for businesses, including WMS systems. Here are some of their offered products:
- Comarch ERP Optima: This is a comprehensive business management software that also offers a WMS module. This module allows you to control warehouse processes, inventory management, picking and shipping of goods.
- Comarch ERP Altum: It is a modern solution for managing the company, including warehouse management. The WMS module allows close control over inventory and picking and delivery processes.
- Comarch ERP XL: This is a solution designed for larger companies. The WMS module offers advanced warehouse management functions, picking, packing and integration with transportation systems.
- Comarch ERP XT: This is an enhanced solution that offers advanced features for warehouse management, including transportation management, picking and packing. The WMS module is part of a comprehensive ERP system.
Kotrak: Kotrak is a Polish company specializing in providing innovative solutions for logistics and warehousing. Their WMS offers tools for efficient warehouse management. Below I present their solution:
- Kotrak WMS: It is a warehouse system that enables optimization of warehouse processes such as order picking, inventory management, packing and delivery. The system offers functions for tracking goods and generating reports.
Both systems described offer warehouse management tools as part of larger ERP solutions or specialized warehouse systems. Before choosing a particular system, it’s a good idea to think about your needs and application, and consult with suppliers to choose the solution that best suits the needs of your business.
Criteria for choosing the right storage system, what to follow?
Choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) is an important step for effective warehouse management in a company. There are many criteria to consider during this process. Here are some key factors to focus on:
- Size and type of business: A WMS should be tailored to the scale of your business. Do you run a small e-commerce company or a large distribution center? The size of the company affects the needs of the WMS.
- Features and modules: Make sure the system you choose offers the necessary functions, such as inventory management, picking, packing, delivery, returns handling, report generation, etc. Choose a system that meets the specific needs of your industry.
- Integrations: The WMS should be easily integrated with other existing systems in your company, such as ERP system, e-commerce systems, financial systems, etc. Check if your WMS offers integrations with these platforms.
- Scalability: choose a system that is scalable and can grow with your business. As the company grows, the system should allow new features and modules to be added.
- Intuitiveness and ease of use: The WMS should be intuitive to use so that employees can quickly learn how to use the new tool. Complicated handling can lengthen implementation time and increase the risk of errors.
- Customization: A WMS should give you the ability to customize to meet the specific needs of your business. It’s important that the system responds to unique industry requirements.
- Technical support: Make sure the system provider offers adequate technical support, staff training and system updates. A good supplier should be available in case of problems.
- Costs: Consider both the implementation and maintenance costs of a WMS. Make sure the system is within your budget.
- Testimonials and feedback: Search the opinions of other WMS users, especially in an industry similar to yours. This will help you understand how the system performs in practice.
- Future needs: Choose a WMS that not only meets your current needs, but also accommodates your company’s possible future growth plans.
Before choosing a WMS, it’s a good idea to conduct a needs analysis, think about which functions are critical to your business, and talk to vendors to understand which solution best suits your needs.
Automated warehousing systems are not just a trend, but more importantly a key element to ensure the competitiveness of online stores in today’s e-commerce market. Introducing automation into warehouse processes can bring significant benefits, such as faster order processing, optimal use of warehouse space and minimizing the risk of human error. The key is to thoroughly understand the needs of your business, analyze the available options on the market, and work with an experienced storage system provider. Choosing the right automated warehouse system is an investment in a company’s future that can help increase efficiency, improve customer service and achieve e-commerce success.
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