Warehouse Management Systems – Meaning, Types, and Features

The concept of a warehouse management system has been around for a long time. It provides an all-in-one solution for everything a company requires to flourish, scale and grow to the greatest heights. And undoubtedly, from organizing the inventory to tracking and forecasting its production, technologies have up the ante with modern features and functions.

According to estimates, The Warehouse inventory tech and supply chain automation are expected to grow exponentially in the next half-decade. Reports suggested that $700 billion spent in 2020 on the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) will boost to $1 trillion by 2023.

Thus, the future of warehousing and fulfillment will seamlessly advance your business by optimizing processes beyond what humans can deliver. Optimizing capacity planning to improve productivity will help your business with higher-quality output at a lower cost.

Let’s understand the warehouse management system in detail -:

What is a warehouse management system?

A Warehouse Management System is a software tool that helps in monitoring daily warehouse operations. Various companies use WMS for handling their inventory, logistics, and distribution channels. This software contributes significantly towards improving the productivity and efficiency of the business by optimizing both internal and external inventory transportation, minimizing the length of time for shipment and warehouse space.

A good warehouse management system typically helps a company save money by reducing labor and using barcodes, RFID tags, and RFID readers for tracking the ordered products with serial numbers. This avoids errors, promotes paperless work, and streamlines your warehouse administrative activities at the helm.

Types of Warehouse Management Systems

From trucks to the distribution center and placing the inventory on the shelf, WMS is significantly helping businesses run and manage their warehouse operations efficiently. All you need to do is understand your business purpose and choose the method of WMS to streamline and consolidate it into one unique platform. The most popularly used different types of Warehouse Management Systems are-:


1. Standalone WMS

A Standalone warehouse management system is an on-premises system with two in-built functionalities – warehouse management and inventory management. This WMS is a good option for small business owners who want to improve their existing supply chain management system. It offers the lowest price and most basic features and requires negligible training investment.

This Standalone WMS is sold without any additional supply chain functions. If you want to scale your business exponentially and are looking for more technology down the road, start investing in this robust system. Popular features are-:

  • Packaging and Shipping
  • Expiration Date Tracking
  • Cycle Counting
  • Barcode Scanning
  • Slotting
  • FIFO or LIFO data management
  • Receiving and
  • Returns

Integrating such WMS will help you eliminate duplicate data entry, delays, or silos in information, resolve your interface concerns and charge optimally for customization.


2. Supply chain modules

Supply chain modules are much more than Standalone WMS. It not just emphasizes warehousing operations but also supports supply chain management. WMS is a sub-category under SCM where SCM software focuses on the broader scope and helps users in managing various aspects of the supply chain.

Supply chain modules strive towards automating common tasks like product cycles, sourcing of materials, and inventory management. It lets you manage your relations with vendors for risk assessment and ongoing business processes. Moreover, the core application of SCM are-

  • Risk analysis
  • Current marketing activities
  • Vendor partnerships

Combining different parts of SCM facilitates maintaining cohesion between different departments of a business.


3. Integrated ERP systems

Integrated ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning is among the popularly used software for businesses and warehouses that tracks all of a company’s or organization’s resources. It supports larger supply chain operations on a larger scale. The core areas of ERP systems are-

  • Supply chain planning
  • Accounting and Human resources
  • Customer relationship management

3PL businesses, who want to scale their operations to the next best level, significantly use Integrated ERP software to organize their – supply chains, HR and finances, and relationships with customers. This Enterprise Resource Program or software is suitable for robust organizations that are looking for special software for managing their daily operations on the admin side


4. Cloud-based WMS

Cloud-based WMS is a web-based and centralized computing software that uses “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) to ensure quick scalability and business deployment. It also provides faster integration, reduces cost, and increases the security of your business information.

Because it is web-based, this cloud-based WMS has reduced IT maintenance and doesn’t demand installation or synchronization with any native networks or hardware. That makes integration faster, easier, and cheaper. It further optimizes the warehouse activities that include –

  • Minimizing the data entry time
  • Streamlining operational workflows with automation
  • Reducing the data entry time
  • Real-time data access
  • Management of multiple system functionalities from a centralized system

It helps vendors by offering customization that can be made to the software when your WMS is in the cloud. Such customization leverages business to grow and modify the operations and procedures without altering the structure of current practices.

Features of Warehouse Management System

Warehouse Management systems not only optimize warehouse operations but also assure the most efficient and cost-effective movement of products and commodities. So, when you select a WMS, ensure that your business’s particular functional requirements are fulfilled with these below-listed features –


1. Designing the warehouse infrastructure

A warehouse management system helps small businesses in utilizing the warehouse for managing the additional space for additional inventories. It focuses on optimally using the space, adding new goods into the cart, and placing them rightly with an attached serial number.


2. Order management

Order management is an integral feature of WMS that optimizes the order and fulfillment process helping you to regulate the flow of products through your warehouse. It gives you better connectivity with your carrier networks for improving your shipping operations. Powered by ML, AI, and robotics, it automated warehouse management and boosted efficiency and speed with order management.


3. Analytics

With warehouse management software, you can track your orders and inventory in real time. That’s how you can stay updated with the inventory levels, refill period, understocking and overstocking counts, and more by combining business intelligence in your warehouse operations. Furthermore, it can help you with data filtering for evaluating your KPI, and pinpointing the areas of improvement that let you strategize in your business decision-making.


4. Inventory Management

A WMS software contributes crucially to tracking your inventory data through RFID tags and barcode scanners automatically. This displays the data on the dashboard of software with permissions so you can accordingly plan for your business. It further assists you in getting insights for locating the products with easy access. Some of the WMS processes are – cross docking, kitting, and cycle counting which makes inventory management easier.


5. Staff management

WMS solutions allow you to track the performance of your laborers and monitor their tasks by tracking KPIs. You can consider this insight in finding gaps in efficiency and improving the performance of your labor at par.


6. Easy Shipping

The WMS system offers you the invoice and packing list that lets you send them automatically to your clients. Monitoring the warehouse management functions and tracking your business’s real-time freight will benefit organizations at all levels.


7. 3pl

3PL is a third-party logistics service that outsourced logistics services and helps businesses in managing their supply chain. Common 3PL warehouse management systems like – shipping coordination, returns and exchanges, warehouse and inventory management, order fulfillment, and retail distribution. Choose the most suitable version and select the vendor who can manage your warehouses.


8. Value-added services

If you invest in software, you can track the progress and payment of your business and various other activities with value-added services like light assembly and kitting. And, in order to deal with such value-added solutions, you can try Standalone WMS for managing your third-party logistics.

This Standalone system lets you focus on what you need and that’s how you can excel in your business from the rest of your competitors. You don’t have to worry much about the supply of inventory or the intricacies of SCM activities.


9. Multiple client architecture

Most of the 3PL companies prefer WMS for managing their purchase orders and inventory. It lets you handle products for multiple clients and that’s how you can cater to a long line of customers.

Various companies use a single cloud server when dealing with cloud-based software. So, when you shop for WMS, make sure that the vendor offers a multi-client architecture so you can reach out to a pool of demographics.


10. Third-Party Logistics Billing

Third-party logistics billing services include- FTL and LTL freight shipping, Picking and packing, reverse logistics, and more. It acts as a connective link between your manufacturing operations and your customers. So when you purchase any Warehouse Management Systems software, make sure it offers service contract processing and inventory tracking. These are extremely important for 3PL companies as they guarantee the security of your invoices.


The Final Words

The world is growing faster at the speed of light. Therefore it’s important for a business to efficiently utilize Warehouse Management Systems to continue to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing market.

Customers often look for quick turnaround times, and faster delivery of products therefore pick the right software and start investing in WMS solutions now!

Call PL Solution to avail the valuable software solution for streamlining your warehouse operations. We’re here to help you in optimizing your warehouse operations.

Warehouse Management Systems