What does your warehouse mean for your business?
Do you know how much all the stock you’ve got hidden in there is worth?
Have you got a whole team of people doing manual jobs like collating orders or producing invoices and other paperwork?
Are there times when you have to tell a customer that you don’t have the stock items they want?
Taking all these considerations on board, you can see how the operation of an often humble, unassuming building can make or break a business.
What Tasks Do You Do In Your Warehouse?
The answer to this could be different for every business, but typically it will include the following:
- Taking delivery of items you sell from your suppliers/third parties
- Organising them into a logical order, so that you can find stock easily when required
- Picking items off the shelves/storage units ready for delivery to customers
- Ensuring that you have enough stock to meet expected demand
- Re-ordering items as they run out/come close to it
- Co-ordinating a delivery schedule to meet the needs of regular customers
- Making sure that everyone is charged the right price for the goods they buy
That’s quite a few separate jobs, and they all need to work together smoothly if your business is to run efficiently.
Put in those terms, you can see why the job of a human warehouse/logistics manager has become so integral to any business.
After all, you need someone who can take a strategic, overarching view of how your business is operating. And that doesn’t just mean on a day-to-day basis, but over much longer periods – weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually.
Then, only by having all this information at your fingertips can you expect to be effective in planning your business’s development, keep pace with demand for its products, and most importantly, stay ahead of its competitors.
So the key issue in running many profitable and successful businesses becomes “How do we keep our existing customers happy, and get ourselves in the best possible position to grow the business, and do this in a way which is sustainable?”
The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in technology, and specifically, a warehouse management system, commonly referred to as a WMS.
What Does A WMS Do?
It automates key tasks such as controlling the inward and outward movement of everything you make or sell, synchronising these movements with your customers’ requirements, and your own needs for the raw materials or goods which keep your business supplied. You can even get reports which show accurate records of all these movements, to help you plan and schedule future stock ordering.
You can find out where your customers come from by ensuring that, when they place an order, you ask them how they discovered your business, and even get some valuable insight about why they chose to buy from you ahead of your competitors.
Yes, this means taking considerable amounts of work away from the people in your business. But this is often repetitive work with little actual value. So if this work is automated, it leaves your staff free to take on tasks which really will be appreciated by your customers.
An all-round WMS such as Optimiser WMS can be an ‘all-seeing eye’, checking and analysing stock movements individually and collectively. Over time, it will provide a host of valuable data to help you run your business as well as possible.
A Specific Example
Optima has implemented its Optimiser WMS at north-east of England tile retailer Discount Tiles.
As a result, staff at its three stores are linked directly to the company’s warehouse, so can tell customers immediately if their choice of tiles is in stock. If not, they take the customer’s details, and inform them immediately new stock is available.
Managing Director Russ Dalgleish says: “Optimiser helps me make good management decisions because I can see which lines sell well in which store, and I can monitor the accuracy of the warehouse staff to maximise [their] performance.
“From the very beginning the staff very quickly got to grips with the new technology, and quick gains in efficiency resulted,” Mr Dalgleish added.
Adding up the benefits
This example shows four major advantages to successfully adopting a WMS in action:
- More accurate and up-to-date inventory records
This is a central feature of any effective WMS. Knowing where stock is at any time is vital to a business’s efficient operation. Customers benefit too because they can have their goods delivered when they want them, or be given accurate information about any ordering and delivery process leading up to that. And with so much of this record-keeping capable of being automated, the risk of human error is reduced.
- Making management of a business more effective
A WMS can flag up warnings of any stock control issues, and can automatically trigger the issuing of a purchase order once stock levels reach a specified minimum. So the chances of having either too much or not enough stock can be greatly reduced, meaning the business becomes more efficient.
- Lower staff costs…
A properly planned and executed WMS means a business is likely to need fewer staff during its regular trading periods, giving it the possibility of only bringing in extra temporary help when it’s really needed.
- …and the same goes for equipment
If you don’t need as many staff running around chasing, packing and delivering orders, then you’ll also need less machinery and fewer vehicles for them to operate. In the longer term, you’ll also be able to better forecast the levels of use plant and vehicles will get, so can improve your maintenance regime and potentially make savings there too.
Finally, with all these operations becoming more efficient, your customers will also notice improvements in the shape of more responsiveness to queries, better tracking of inbound and outbound deliveries, and, when something does go wrong, better capability to diagnose the cause, and being able to fix it.
However you answered the question we posed at the top of this article, perhaps now you can see some ways in which a state-of-the-art WMS can get your warehouse doing even more.
So if your business isn’t already using a modern WMS to its full potential – or even at all – you should ask why. Because the chances are that your competitors already are, and you’re being left lagging behind.
How can we help your business?