As e-commerce continues to grow in size and scope, so does the need for warehouse management system software, or WMS software. In fact, the global market for WMS alone is expected to climb 15.3% between now and 2028, reaching an estimated $8.18 billion in value.
So what’s driving the push for more 3PLs to adopt WMS software? Here’s what you should know as better technology makes its way to the warehouse industry.
WMS Software: What Is It?
At Zenventory, we define WMS software as a solution that provides visibility into the entire inventory. What’s more, it manages supply chain fulfillment operations from the distribution center directly to the buyer.
WMS software allows 3PLs to monitor and control their inventory from a single platform, making it more reliable. It also keeps a finger on the pulse of everything going on in the warehouse, from receiving new shipments, processing returns, fulfilling orders, and more.
Key Functions of WMS Software
WMS software is a powerful solution that’s chock full of features made specifically for warehouses. Actual features may vary from software to software in terms of how they function, but most solutions contain some version of the following:
Warehouses use barcodes to simplify data entry and ensure 100% accuracy in a variety of ways. You need to make sure stock is located and stored in the right place, so you can quickly scan a location barcode rather than typing it out. You also need to make sure you're pulling the right product during the picking process, so you scan the product barcode to ensure that it is a perfect match for what was ordered. WMS software provides barcode functionality for all products and processes.
Items that need to be assembled or boxed together to form a complete item (or kit) should follow a process and store the components needed in an easy-to-find place. WMS tools can create and store these “recipes” electronically, so that team members involved in kitting know what to do when those items are ordered.
Reporting tools help streamline inventory counts, place reorders, and show available space in your warehouse for new inventory. They can also show important metrics related to operating costs, productivity, and more.
Many modern warehouse management solutions allow you to integrate other tools to make a solid system even more robust. This helps reduce manual data entry and wasted human labor, plus it helps you customize your system more to your liking.
Why 3PL Companies Need WMS Software
3PL companies share many of the same challenges as e-commerce retailers, but at a much greater scale. You’re likely managing fulfillment for dozens or even hundreds of e-commerce brands! Efficiency is important to maintaining profitability and providing a standout customer experience (both to your e-commerce clients and their customers). Anything that can be automated should be automated — and WMS software is the best option for warehouses.
Digital technology has forever changed how consumers purchase goods. Modern e-commerce tools allow merchants to see changing customer buying patterns and real-time visibility into sales and inventory. Warehouses can no longer afford not to use that same technology in their own operations.
For starters, a comprehensive warehouse management solution allows for the utmost flexibility and scalability. Onboarding new customers is a breeze when all of the specs and functions you need are already in place. Quickly respond to evolving supply chains, instantly calculate pricing and space requirements, and navigate peak seasons with predictability.
In addition, digitized warehouse management allows you to maximize space while reducing overhead costs. For example, technology helps you configure an optimal floor plan and inventory layout based on the tasks and materials you handle most. Reduce wasted space along with wasted time in trying to find products for picking.
And if efficiency is a top priority, WMS software can make your labor, space, and shipping more effective. Assign tasks based on workers’ availability, skill level, and location in the warehouse. Forecast demand to optimize your on-hand labor. And get real-time insights into inventory to more accurately estimate your numbers on hand, avoid backorders, and prepare for spikes in demand.
How to Choose a WMS Software Solution
Aside from selecting WMS software based on features and functions you need, what else should you look for in a solution? Here are two of the most overlooked components when vetting software options.
On-Prem vs. In the Cloud
Today’s business software takes one of two approaches: on-premise (on-prem) and cloud-based.
On-prem is the traditional model, where the software lives on your own servers. One of the most significant advantages of using on-prem models is data protection. Because data is available locally, companies have more control over their security. However, control isn’t the same as foolproof. Your data may still be susceptible to attacks, plus it’s on you to maintain your servers and ensure your data security keeps up with the times.
A more favorable option is cloud-based WMS software. This uses professionally managed cloud infrastructure for fast implementation, plus it can be continuously upgraded when new features and developments are available. It’s also a more scalable solution because you can add functionality as your warehouse business grows without increasing the burden on your in-house IT team.
Ongoing Service and Support
From implementation to ongoing support, many companies don’t think about service until they need it. Many companies charge additional fees for personalized service, while others only offer a limited amount of support via chat, phone, or a self-service help center.
Especially with a cloud-based tool, where updates happen automatically and new features and functions are introduced frequently, it’s important to have a top-notch service you can count on as you adapt your system to work for your business.
Choose the Best WMS Software For Your Needs
As you’re exploring your options for WMS software, we invite you to take a closer look at Zenventory.
Unlike other solutions, Zenventory’s WMS Software is unique because our software is cost-effective and user-friendly. Our software was built for omnichannel e-commerce, while other WMS software platforms were developed before e-commerce was a focus and are not optimized the way we are for the modern-day challenges faced by the fastest growing online brands.
What’s more, our average onboarding journey is finished within days instead of weeks or months, allowing you to start ramping up and generating value faster.