A majority of 2022 reports have forecasted that the 2023 supply chain expects sustainability, resiliency, and visibility. What better way to achieve every said criterion with the help of a cloud-based warehouse management system?
As the supply chain is becoming increasingly complex and multi-layered, using the right tool to assist you in the process of achieving the business’ goals is crucial, especially in today’s ultra-competitive market.
What is a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS)?
To fully understand what a cloud-based warehouse management system is, let’s break down the term first.
A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a software program that enables remote monitoring and control of daily operations in the warehouse. The WMS software monitors stock levels, assists with order shipping, and provides guidance on inventory replenishment. This involves:
- Setting up the warehouse’s inventory and layout.
- Maintaining and controlling the proper equipment.
- Oversee the facility’s inventory deliveries and receipts.
- Assist with picking, packing, and shipping orders.
- Monitor and improve warehouse performance overall.
- Offer automation tools that do laborious and repetitive work for you.
Being cloud-based refers to software that is implemented in a SAAS model. SAAS is an acronym for software-as-a-service. It refers to a software licensing model where access to the program is supplied on a subscription basis and the software is hosted on external servers rather than on servers that are housed inside.
So, a cloud-based warehouse management system is a cloud-based service that helps you overlook the operations within your warehouse. Instead of investing in on-premise hardware, businesses only need to pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to warehouse management features. All in all, companies can still enjoy the advantages of a cloud-based WMS but with a much lower fee.
A quick glance at the features cloud-based WMS has to offer
What features should you expect to find when subscribing to a cloud-based WMS? The following will list some of the common features you can find in an average WMS.
Managing inventory is one of the most crucial tasks of any given warehouse. Being able to control inventory levels well means you will not have to go through cases like rejecting orders because you thought the warehouse was understocked while it in fact is not, or accepting an order while that item’s inventory level is extremely low. So, a cloud-based WMS with an inventory management function assists you in:
- Tracking real-time stock data: with a system of barcodes and QR codes assigned to each item and pallet, you will know the location and movement of the goods at all times.
- Traceability: the software allows you to organize both manual and automatic equipment movements of the commodities to ensure complete product traceability.
- Data centralization: the data is constantly updated and synced during the different stages of a product. Additionally, according to the inventory on hand in the facility, the catalogs for all places of sale—both offline and online—are synchronized.
Picking and packing
A robust, modern cloud-based WMS needs to have the ability to fulfill orders fast and efficiently. WMS helps operators with the strategy for effective order processing
- Picking route optimization: WMS calculates and analyzes the most efficient picking route for the operators.
- Integration capability: The WMS you are looking at should easily integrate with packing aids, e.g. voice picking.
- Single-unit or multi-unit orders: whether there is a single SKU only or numerous SKUs in one order, the WMS helps you coordinate them accordingly. Depending on the order, this can also include cross-docking or other methods of picking and shipping.
- Packaging: most WMS automatically provides you with the shipping label, standard packing and even customized packing per your request.
Look for a cloud-based WMS that has the ability to integrate with other data management platforms to save you from the hassle of going back and forth between multiple applications. Some of these applications include:
- ERP system
- Warehouse equipment: The warehouse control system (WCS), which controls all the automated components in the facility in accordance with the directives, guidelines, and location standards defined by the WMS, is also in communication with the WMS.
- Online platforms: WMS that allows you to sync online store catalogs with the physical inventory make things much easier for you.
- Carrier communication systems allow you to quickly and easily coordinate shipments with your transportation vendors.
The aforementioned features have probably helped you visualize some, if not many of the advantages of a cloud-based WMS. Nonetheless, let us go through them again to have a better idea of how the solution can help you and your business.
Scalability and flexibility
Before choosing a cloud-based WMS provider, do make sure they have the ability to grow alongside your business. Can they handle the sudden soar or plunge in orders?
The ability to flexibly handle the number of workstations is an important feature. Unlike in-house solutions, its scaling does not cost much money or involves long processes of setting up and checking and re-checking.
Lets say your business is growing rapidly and you need more workstations to effectively manage your orders. Worry not as this is where cloud-based WMS taps in to rescue. Your demands will be met almost immediately.
What if you are not in your peak season? What will happen to all the workstations? Once again, you do not need to worry as cloud-based WMS will help you forecast the incoming traffic and adjust the resources accordingly.
As mentioned earlier in the article, one crucial supply chain feature in the coming year is visibility. Again, this is exactly what cloud-based WMS will provide you with.
Better visibility allows you to keep up with today’s supply chain complexity – the never-ending layers, the various nodes, and many characteristics. Better visibility allows you to trace and track the movement of the items and the flow of goods.
Moreover, enhanced visibility allows you to meet your customer’s regulations and standards without suffering expensive financial penalties. Meeting your customer’s needs also builds your business a strong reputation that would attract more companies to conduct more transactions with you.
All in all, a WMS – especially a cloud-based one – makes tracing, tracking and overseeing the entire operation much easier and more efficient. There will be fewer errors and orders will be fulfilled and shipped much faster.
Fewer costs. More value
One major advantage offered by cloud-based WMS is its affordability. After all, you are cutting the cost spent on hardware, maintenance cost, and a whole team that is responsible for looking over the said hardware.
When it comes to SAAS WMS, you only need to pay for monthly/ yearly subscription fees and the very services used. In the long run, you will enjoy the financial benefits and the positive impact on your business’s bottom line – the company’s profit.
While saving money, you still get to enjoy a smooth and strong warehouse management system. This is one of the biggest reasons startup companies prefer cloud-based WMS.
Any company’s biggest fear is the unauthorized use of data and breach of privacy. Businesses have increasingly invested in cybersecurity – but even then, it is difficult to achieve the desired level of security.
Nonetheless, when it comes to cloud-based WMS providers, data security is one of their top priorities. They will make sure the client’s data are in safe hands, especially seeing as they are providing service for a large number of companies at once – the risk is even higher than normal. Therefore, you can take advantage of top tier security these organizations provide, and rest assured that your data is in safe hands.
Moreover, you do not need to worry about losing data, as it is automatically backed up to the cloud.
Faster processing power
We are living in the age of digitalization. Customers are increasingly demanding stronger and faster processing power and less downtime. All of this is made possible with the cloud-based warehouse management system.
With smoother, more robust processing capabilities, your customers are more likely to go for your service rather than your opponents’ due to technical issues.
Cloud-based WMS does not require hardware on-premise. This is already making it much easier to use as the steps involving technicalities like installation, fixing and maintenance have all been skipped.
In contrast, SAAS WMS only requires you to sign up for a vendor, pay the fees, and then familiarize yourself with the system.
Furthermore, in today’s digital age, almost every software is accompanied by a mobile application. A mobile app is user-friendly and allows you to have access to the system and trace and track the data, movements, and orders from almost anywhere.
In short, a cloud-based WMS is easy to use and offers endless possibilities.
Cloud-based warehouse management presents numerous benefits. Not only are there almost endless possibilities when it comes to optimizing warehouse processes, but it also offers users major advantages. It is an essential tool to handle modern business demands. This is also the reason why more and more companies choose cloud-based WMS for their supply chains.
If you are looking for assistance to help choosing your suitable WMS, let SCS Solutions team help you. For further advice regarding 3PLs, EDI or WMS, feel free to reach out to SCS Solutions team via Linkedin or Facebook.