Warehouse Management System (WMS): 5 Steps to Modernize Your Warehouse

4 minutes read - May 17, 2021 - by Yondu Team
A modern warehouse management system is key to drive growth in distribution. Modernize your warehouse operations by following these 5 steps!
warehouse worker using modern warehouse management systems through barcode scanning

In small-scale distribution, efficient warehouse management is comparably easier to achieve. Distributors may go on their day-to-day operations efficiently, Distributors may go on their day-to-day operations efficiently, as long as there’s an effective warehouse management system (WMS) in place.

But as distributors grow, warehouse management becomes more complex. Locations to be monitored add up facilities become larger, as well as product lines.

This blog will offer WMS strategies, particularly on modernizing warehouse management and operations, to growing distributors. Later in the article, we’ll also share a free playbook on ERP for distribution including a warehouse assessment tool.

5 Steps to Modernize Your Warehouse

To stay competitive, distributors need to employ the right business systems and technologies in their operations. Sometimes, this may require changes in long-established programs and the use of up-to-date and powerful software.

Acumatica, a leading global Cloud ERP provider, listed down five steps growing distributors can follow to modernize their warehouse:

1. Consider Warehouse Management features

Distributors have to consider feature categories when thinking of modernizing warehouse operations. These categories provide distributors the tools they need to replace manual entries, streamline processes, and enhance transaction visibility.

First to consider is WMS’s General Features. Modern warehouses rely on modern technologies. Therefore, an up-to-date application platform is crucial. Easy connectivity to external systems is an important feature to give options for on-premise or cloud-based deployment.

A modern warehouse also depends on strong Inventory Management. Your warehouse management system should support flexible configurations in terms of handling inventories. 

A sophisticated yet straightforward inventory cycle counting is a must-have to ensure accuracy.

Other features to look for that are equally crucial are Order Management, Automation, Inventory Transactions, and Compliance and Reporting.

2. Employ warehouse management technologies

warehouse manager holding smart tablet for data entry

Inventory and warehouse data entry is time-consuming, let alone manual data entry, which is also error-prone. Appropriately, there are several technologies distributors can employ to improve their overall efficiency. 

First, there are Barcodes and RFID Tags. Distributors have tethered barcode readers and can print barcodes on labels and reports. RFID tags also have the same features taking away human intervention in data capture.

Paper and OCR Scanning is also one data capturing technology supporting gaps that are difficult to automate. This way, the digital versions of data are backed up with physical records. However, the downside is that updates are not-real time and data entry is error-prone.

Other warehouse technologies involve:

  • Voice Recognition
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Robotics and Carousel Systems

Warehouse Management Systems for distribution integrate these multiple automation technologies into a single platform; some with additional features.

Correspondingly, advanced WMS is an excellent option for distributors with large-scale distribution centers. It is also best for distributors with ERP systems that do not offer warehouse automation functionality.

Some ERP systems for distributors offer light yet highly practical WMS features such as automated inventory replenishment. Barcode scans automate the order fulfillment process from picking, packing to shipping, all from a single scan. Advanced workflows further automate inventory and warehouse management processes.

3. Assess your current warehouse management systems

Knowing where you are in your warehouse modernization journey is essential. Every distributor is different; their requirements, as well as their current capacities, also vary.

Distribution companies using entry-level accounting systems have few tools to automate. Meanwhile, established distributors using legacy ERP systems may have limited resources and encounter difficulties connecting to the latest devices. 

Conduct an assessment to know your warehouse’s current state and identify feature requirements. Below is Acumatica’s Free ERP Playbook for the Modern Warehouse, which contains a self-assessment survey you can use!

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4. Plan and strategize

The steps to WMS success along with modern warehouse operations start with a good, comprehensive plan. In fact, many problems in warehouse management arise from ineffective, unplanned activities making the process counterproductive.

For many distributors, they have technologies that are not necessarily the ones they need for growth. Others implemented warehouse management features in their ERP system but are not able to utilize them for ultimate efficiency.

Other distributors use a patchwork of technologies in their businesses to accommodate their different needs. Yet, when there are too many integrations to maintain, warehouse operations may be costly and inefficient.

It is therefore crucial to set a strong foundation by researching, prioritizing, and creating a detailed plan. The steps to WMS success can be summarized in four steps: 1) Foundation, 2) Research, 3) Prioritization, 4) Plan Development.

5. Execute in phases

managers discussing warehouse modernization execution plan

Once your plan is defined, it is time to execute the modernization project. To ensure a successful roll-out, distributors need to be patient.

Automation does not necessarily have to happen all at one time. In any case, it takes steady progress. Execute your warehouse modernization in phases by breaking down the project into smaller, manageable activities.

With this in mind, execution in creating a modern warehouse covers four phases:

Phase 1: Preparation

Preparation should start well in advance before your target go-live date. Keep your team in the loop: review the plan with them, notify them of the timeline and their roles and responsibilities.

Phase 2: Go-Live Day

Assign a project lead who can manage each step in the project. Proper coordination and documentation are key to successful and well-organized go-lives.

Phase 3: Review

Give users the time to adapt to the new process while allocating time for data collection. Keep in mind that it will take time for things to settle.

Phase 4: Continuous Improvement

Upgrades offer increased value to the users. So, make sure to maintain the software and hardware and stay current with the versions.

A modern warehouse is becoming more and more necessary in this day and age. To thrive, wholesale distributors must start taking steps to move forward using the right tools.

Acumatica’s Distribution Edition allows companies to stay competitive in the digital economy through leading-edge cloud technology. It is equipped with the tools necessary to manage projects, support cases, and installations or upgrades.

A Cloud ERP offers a modern platform to keep your business up to speed. Integrated workflows also cover the full suite of business management applications necessary for automating and modernizing warehouse operations.

These features make Acumatica Cloud ERP one of the best solutions for growing distributors in the Philippines. 

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If you’re a midmarket distributor looking for a Warehouse Management System (WMS) in the Philippines, we got you covered. Contact us to know more about Acumatica, one of the best cloud ERP for distribution available locally.

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