Warehouse Management

What is Warehouse Management?

What Is Warehouse Management?

Warehouse Management Helps You:

  • Organize warehouse space
  • Manage inventory
  • Strengthen customer relationships
  • Make transportation management easier
  • Improve warehouse performance
  • Apply better warehousing logistics

Organize warehouse space

What is warehouse management, and how can a software system optimize your warehousing? Firstly, organization in the warehouse is key to fluid product movement and employee travel. Warehouse management optimizes operations and the storage of products from reception to shipment or relocation. Now that we’ve covered the warehouse management definition, let’s delve deeper into its functions, features and FAQs.

On the other hand, warehouse management software can help guide warehouse managers by setting up a viable product floor with room for employees to complete picking. By leveraging data provided by the management system, products that historically sold better can be set up near the packing floor while placing slow-moving products further away.

Warehouse management usually includes various labeling and tagging tools to expedite picking. RFID tagging and pick-to-light are on the rise because they increase pick accuracy and cut down on time spent looking for a product. There are many features included in most WMS solutions that can tip the organizational scales in your favor:

Organizing a warehouse space requires accurate warehouse management, tracking inventory error rates, using stackable shelf bins, implementing cycle counts and more.

Manage inventory

Inventory management is a vital part of running a successful warehouse. Warehouse efficiency relies on the speed and accuracy of products moving from the warehouse to packing and distribution areas. To accomplish this, many warehouses adopt separate inventory management systems, but can a warehouse management system do the same job?

A WMS can take care of inventory management if it includes all the necessary features. However, it also depends on the size of your warehousing operation. Inventory management systems are generally smaller and need help handling huge amounts of products.

Meanwhile, a warehouse management system can handle all warehousing processes and large item volumes. Depending on your unique requirements, a WMS can stand in for an inventory management system, but keep track of some important features they should both have:

Strengthen customer relationships

Real-time tracking and transparency help expedite warehouse customer relationship management (CRM). Most logistics companies need help tracking items moving in and out of distribution centers and warehouses. From inventory tracking to optimizing warehouse functions and shipment processes, warehouse management boosts productivity and reduces overhead costs while improving customer service.

A modern WMS easily integrates with software systems, including barcode scanning and transportation management (TMS), customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP modules. Integrating WMS with a diverse range of solutions can provide multiple advantages to improve customer experiences:

  • Real-time insights
  • Management of warehouse employees
  • Time saving
  • Accurate data
  • Enhanced visibility
  • Efficient delivery

Make transportation management easier

While transportation management has its little ecosystem in the larger world of supply chain management, a WMS solution can make it run smoothly. Organizing is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing transportation management, and it begins in the warehouse.

By adopting a warehouse management system, warehouses can track product availability and items that need shipping. This way, warehouse managers can see how many trucks are available to move the required products for the day.

Labor management features play an important role in planning the distribution of products. By tracking labor on a given day, warehouse managers can plan accordingly. If a small team is available, warehouse managers can schedule a receipt of a large batch of new products for a later date. Some other WMS features make transportation management easier:

  • Labor management
  • Packing management
  • Shipping support
  • Cross-docking

Improve warehouse performance

The accuracy and speed of customer order fulfillment are major indicators of a successful operation. By implementing a WMS that fulfills your requirements, warehouse managers can keep track of some vital KPIs to keep their warehouse running at maximum efficiency:

  • The efficiency of product reception
  • The rate of product return
  • Picking and packing accuracy
  • Average order processing time

A warehousing management solution provides valuable visibility into day-to-day warehousing practices while gathering helpful data that managers can use to plan for the future. Data visibility can show where a warehouse is slipping up and how managers can act before a problem arises. The important KPIs that define a functioning warehouse can stay optimized by leveraging this data.

Apply better warehousing logistics

Logistics is a buzzword in the world of supply chain management today. Logistics are important at every step when considering the entirety of a supply chain. From manufacturing to the final delivery of a completed product, different management systems help put strong logistics practices into use to optimize different legs of the chain.

When it comes to warehousing logistics, a WMS is critical. As soon as a product is received, warehousing logistics dictate how quickly it moves from reception to storage and eventually out for distribution. Achieving maximum fulfillment expediency requires fine-tuned warehousing logistics through the usage of the aforementioned data visibility these warehouse management systems provide.


What Are the Types of Warehouse Management Systems?

There are a few different types of warehousing management systems to choose from: standalone, supply chain modules, ERP integrated and cloud-based. Standalone options are popular among most modern warehousing operations. They are the most basic type of WMS and are popular for their warehouse management features.

The most suitable option for your business will depend on factors such as applicability in industries beyond warehouse management, level of investment, integration feasibility and deployment.

However, there are certain features you need to consider before choosing the right warehousing management solution for your business:

  • Inventory management systems
  • Multiple clients
  • 3pl
  • Multichannel fulfillment services
  • Third-party logistics billing

Who Uses a WMS?

Warehouse managers oversee most of the warehouse management process. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re the primary warehouse management system users. That said, however, they’re by no means the only ones who benefit from using it. Thanks to labor management features found in most warehouse management systems, warehouse employees benefit from using WMS solutions as well.

They can use it to view the orders for processing and check their schedule to know what tasks they have to complete each day. Planning officers can instantly make business decisions on items that can incur losses using the latest information.

What Are the Biggest Benefits of Using a WMS?

There’s a good reason for the rise in popularity of warehouse management platforms in the last several years. The many benefits that they convey to warehousing businesses are hard to ignore. Some of the standout benefits of using a WMS include reduced operating expenses, continuous process optimization, enhanced security and improved customer and supplier relationships.

Other benefits that companies commonly gain from using a WMS include:

  • Maximizing their labor resources
  • Simplifying just-in-time inventory
  • Enhancing demand planning
  • Increasing transparency to both employees and suppliers

These systems streamline and optimize nearly every critical aspect of running a successful warehousing operation.

Introducing automation tech can take things a step further. Robotics, machine learning and AI are becoming more commonplace in warehouses worldwide. Automating is the way to go if you’re looking to boost efficiency, cut down on errors and ship products faster.

What Are the Most Common Integrations?

To make the most out of your WMS, integration is important. As mentioned above, there are four types of warehouse management systems: standalone, cloud-based, ERP and SCM modules.

ERP integration centralizes your system so you can work with all your data in one location. This process creates less manual data entry as well as more data security. SCM integration does much of the same, except that instead of centralizing your software, it does it for all your supply chain-related systems.

Transportation management system (TMS) integration is also common. TMS integration streamlines and automates the organization of your distribution processes. The two systems work together to create a cohesive, fluid distribution system that ensures accurate and prompt product delivery.

Finally, we come to an integration that’s not obvious at first but nonetheless useful: CRM. CRM integration gives you more data to create a 360-degree view of your customers and their experiences. Rather than merely viewing their interactions with your marketing and sales materials, you can also track their orders.

How Does Warehouse Management Affect Supply Chain Management?

Warehouse management is a central link in the supply chain management lifecycle. It helps organize goods to make sure shipping takes place on time. Getting things picked, packed and shipped accurately and on time is a warehouse’s most significant effect on the supply chain.

If your warehouse management processes become inefficient and inaccurate, they can derail your entire operation. Sending products to the wrong location or sending the right products late can damage your reputation among clients. When your customers get what they want when they want it, there is a higher chance they’ll become return customers.

What Does Logistics Mean in Warehouse Management?

You’ve certainly heard the word “logistics” before, but what does it mean when it comes to warehouse management? In short, logistics is an umbrella term for the various tasks related to transportation, warehousing, inventory, information management and more. These include the various processes in the supply chain that happen before, during and after warehousing.

The different logistics functions must work in tandem to ensure that your supply chain is as efficient as possible. A practical example would be when you schedule the initial reception of goods to ensure they arrive at the warehouse when there’s room for inventory. Additionally, those goods leave the warehouse on time, so they arrive at their destination exactly when they need to be there.

What Is the Meaning of Inbound and Outbound Logistics?

Inbound and outbound logistics are opposites. Logistics involves the processes directly related to warehousing before, during and after products arrive or are shipped. Inbound logistics, therefore, are the processes involved with incoming goods. Outbound logistics, on the other hand, deals with distributing goods.

Inbound logistics mostly receive and store goods when they arrive at the warehouse. Every step of the process, from a shipment arriving by truck (or other transportation) to the storage of the goods, is a part of inbound logistics. A crucial component of inbound logistics is recording information related to storing the goods for easy tracking when it’s time to move them out of the warehouse.

Outbound logistics involves all processes that ship goods out of the warehouse, including order fulfillment. This process includes collecting various items together, loading them onto a truck (or other transportation) and sending them to their destination (most likely the customer).

What Is the Difference Between Warehouse Management and Inventory Management?

There’s a good amount of crossover between warehouse management solutions and inventory management systems. It has created some confusion on what the differences are between the two. WMS solutions are more robust, handling all of the warehousing features in addition to inventory.

Inventory management systems are generally cheaper than WMS, including being more “lightweight” systems. Inventory management systems focus on tasks and processes, including organizing and streamlining product storage.

When it comes down to inventory features, there are even more noticeable differences. Inventory management systems can only handle a limited number of products, whereas WMS solutions can process a high volume and wide variety of goods. A warehouse that works with fewer products may be fine using an inventory management system, but one that handles a diverse set of products would need a WMS.

Can You Use a WMS for Inventory Control?

Thanks to its powerful inventory management features, a WMS is a great tool for inventory control. One of the capabilities that makes it valuable is differentiating between pack sizes like pallets, cases and individual items.

A WMS identifies whether each unit is a pallet, a case or an item based on each unit’s identifying barcode/SKU/serial number. This information makes planning for inventory storage much easier. For example, you’ll never be caught off guard thinking that you’ll place a unit of 100 items in a corner when in fact, that unit turns out to be 100 full cases.

What Is Putaway?

Putaway or put-away refers to literally putting away all of your incoming stock. The putaway process is a part of inbound logistics that covers the tasks related to receiving and stocking inventory. A WMS is immensely useful for effective putaway.

How Does Warehouse Management Help With Transportation Management?

One of the main benefits that WMS tools provide is transportation management. As you know, inventory gets organized within a warehouse to stock all the products together. In turn, this helps plan for the type of transportation and how frequently it’s needed to deliver products on time.

First and foremost, warehouse management helps track the amount of stock in each warehouse. With this information in hand, you can see how many trucks you need to allocate to each warehouse.

For example, let’s say that warehouse A has 100 pallets of a certain product, while warehouse B has only 80 cases of it. In this case, you know that you need to allocate four 53” trailers to warehouse A, while you only need to send a small truck to deliver the products from warehouse B (if it’s not part of a bigger order).

In addition, knowing how much labor you have available at each warehouse helps schedule more efficient shipments. If you have a day where most of your labor is tied up delivering several small shipments, it’s probably not a good day to receive a large shipment.

In this case, you can organize your shipment dates to make the most of your available labor. For example, you can alternate shipment dates to manage several small shipments on some days and a few larger ones on others.

How Do I Select a Warehouse Management System?

Finding the perfect warehouse management system can be daunting if you go in blindly. Take some time to think about the unique requirements of your operation. Is there money in the budget to cover a brand-new system? How large is your warehousing operation, and do you require a complex solution or something simpler?

By laying out a list of what you need, you can narrow the expansive field of vendors into something more manageable. If you want more help or guidance, visit our Warehouse Management Requirements Checklist or our guide on creating a WMS RFP.

Having trouble finding the right software vendor? We’d love to help! Contact our team for tailored recommendations by emailing support@selecthub.com or via phone at 855-850-3850.

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Warehouse management articles are written and edited by:

Zachary Totah

Content Manager

As SelectHub’s Content Manager, Zachary Totah leads a team of more than 35 writers and editors in their quest to provide content that helps software buyers find the right system for their company.

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Hunter Lowe

Content Editor and Senior Market Analyst

Hunter Lowe is a Content Editor and Senior Market Analyst at SelectHub. He writes content for Construction, Inventory, Warehouse, and Supply Chain Management.

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Sylvia Marak

Technical Content Writer

Sylvia D. Marak is a technical content writer at SelectHub. Her areas of expertise include business intelligence and big data analytics.

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Shweta Joshi

Market Analyst

Shweta Joshi is a Market Analyst at SelectHub. She writes content for Warehouse Management, Distribution and CRM.

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Creating a Strong Warehouse Management System RFP

November 17, 2023
The time has come — your enterprise is in dire need of a new warehouse management system. Maybe you’re just beginning your journey into the world of WMS, or perhaps your enterprise has grown to the point where your old software solutions no longer work. In any case, a pivotal step in the process is creating a strong warehouse RFP.

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What Is 3PL? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 8, 2023
Efficient supply chain management is crucial to growing businesses. Adding new locations, applying updated manufacturing methods and fulfilling customer expectations can give way to increasingly complex supply chain challenges. Businesses now rely on third-party logistics (3PL) companies and warehouse management software to scale their fulfillment strategy and avoid mismanagement.

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What Is Order Picking: Types, Best Practices and Warehouse Integration

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November 7, 2023
The most vital part of order fulfillment is warehouse order picking. Imagine placing the right order but ending up receiving the wrong product. Unfortunately, customers can’t pack their own orders to ensure they go to the right place. So, how do you pick the right items every time? Implementing the best order picking methods along with a warehouse management system is the answer!

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Warehouse Layout Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide

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November 3, 2023
Are you tired of struggling with warehouse setups that feel like an endless game of Tetris? Does your warehouse feel smaller and smaller every day? You aren’t the only one with warehouse layout optimization problems.

Alleviating these storage headaches is as easy as integrating the right warehouse management system, implementing some best practices and flexing some creativity.

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WMS Integration: A Comprehensive Guide

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November 2, 2023
Are you grappling with manual data entry, inventory discrepancies and delayed order processing? Is your warehouse bleeding money and fighting against inefficient processes? WMS integration can improve everything from customer satisfaction to inventory management and transportation.

This article will cover how integrating warehouse management software with other systems can support vital processes, choosing the right integrations and some major benefits this strategy brings to the table.

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Warehouse of the Future: Latest Technology, Industry Transformation and More

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November 2, 2023
Flying robots, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are becoming more common in the warehousing industry. What if this is just the beginning of a warehouse of the future? Will warehouse management software systems evolve as warehouse digitalization takes over, or will it remain unchanged?

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What Is Putaway? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 1, 2023
Putaway is a crucial part of warehouse management that involves several essential steps. Think of it as unpacking and organizing your groceries after a trip to the supermarket. You need to find the right spot for each item in your pantry to keep everything organized. In this guide, we’ll understand what it is, its types, benefits and best practices..

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How To Oversee Remote Warehouse Management

October 30, 2023
Warehouse management systems are a significant asset for companies that deal in product inventories or store products and materials in physical warehouses. Remote warehouse management software brings enormous innovation to warehouse management. Embrace remote-based warehousing to increase overall warehouse efficiency and productivity.

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Warehouse Efficiency: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 27, 2023
As businesses strive to stay competitive in an ever-evolving market, warehouse efficiency is top priority. Streamlining processes with a warehouse management system (WMS) improves the accuracy and speed of order fulfillment. These tools are essential for analyzing and optimizing critical tasks that keep your warehouse alive.

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Mobile Warehouse Management: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 25, 2023
Welcome to the world of mobile warehousing! Mobile warehouse management is a game-changer for supply chain operations. It combines mobile technology with sophisticated warehouse management systems to provide a seamless and efficient logistics operation. Managing a mobile warehouse requires expertise, innovation and an understanding of the unique challenges that come with the territory.

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Warehouse Robots: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 24, 2023
In recent years, the growth of eCommerce revolutionized the way consumers shop, creating a surge in demand for warehouses and distribution centers. As a result, warehouse management systems (WMS) became increasingly complex, requiring a range of technologies to keep up. One such technology is warehouse robots, which emerged as a crucial component.

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3PL Warehouse Management Systems: What’s Unique About Them?

October 24, 2023
Opening a warehouse in another country requires significant investment and could even end up not drawing a profit! That’s why many businesses turn to third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to run their overseas warehouses for them. With proper 3PL warehouse management software, the chances of success go way up. Integrating a successful 3PL warehouse management system is a guaranteed way to help save time and money.

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WMS Logistics: How a Warehouse Management System Works in the Logistics Chain

October 18, 2023

It’s impossible to imagine an effectively functioning logistics system without a warehouse management system. WMS logistics are integral when considering the strength of your supply chain. While the role of a warehouse is sometimes falsely viewed as a simple storage facility, this is far from the truth.

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What Is Warehouse Optimization? A Comprehensive Guide

1 comment
October 18, 2023
Efficiency and accuracy are paramount for smooth warehousing optimization. Most major warehouse challenges also stem from a need for better transparency. Implementing a warehouse management system provides opportunities to automate processes to avoid upcoming challenges, boost transparency and more.

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Best Warehouse Management Software for Small Business

October 17, 2023
Warehouse management software (WMS) has become essential to manage inventory and fulfillment from warehouse to store/customer. However, finding top warehouse management software for small businesses can be challenging. To help you with your search, we’ve created this guide listing the top products in the market, along with their benefits and features.

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What Is Warehouse Logistics? Key Benefits, Challenges and Predictions

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Warehouse logistics revolve around the strategic management of storage, movement and goods handling. With ever-increasing supply chain complexity and rising demand for efficient inventory management, businesses are turning to innovative solutions like warehouse management systems (WMS) to optimize their operations.

Embracing and implementing these solutions can solve your warehousing and logistics needs.

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Top Warehouse Management System Benefits and More

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One of the most dangerous consequences of poor warehouse management is workplace injury. Many businesses turn to WMS software to balance safety, efficiency and profitability. A warehouse management system benefits operations by reducing human error, maximizing efficiency and productivity, and positively impacting overall business via automation.

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What Is Kitting? A Comprehensive Guide

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October 10, 2023
In a world driven by unrealistic customer demands, efficiency is key. Kitting in warehouses can save companies a lot of money, time and effort. It replaces picking and packing individual items from inventory while maintaining an efficient fulfillment process. With warehouse management systems in play, you have the right order-picking strategy.

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Warehouse Management System Features, Functional Requirements and Best Practices

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Warehouse management software represents one of today’s broader enterprise software categories. From inventory to supply chain and transportation management, warehouse management systems (WMS) are specialized tools that tackle unique distribution niches.

Thanks to the broader capabilities of warehouse management system features, most companies adopt these solutions to cover their bases.

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Best Open-Source WMS (Warehouse Management Systems)

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October 4, 2023
Your warehouse operations are suffering and you need a way to manage everything efficiently. But you can’t afford a brand new warehouse management system on top of the customizations you require. What do you do?

A WMS with open-source functionality may be the silver bullet you need. These (usually) free tools leave their code open and accessible so you can customize them as needed.

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What Is 4PL? A Comprehensive Guide

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October 2, 2023
When it comes to logistics, many businesses are aware of 3PLs and their role in supply chain agility. However, 4PL is now gaining recognition from larger organizations looking for an outsourcing partner that can single-handedly evaluate, strategize, implement, operate and track complex supply chain solutions in a cost-effective manner.

With growing expectations, several warehouse management software providers are taking on roles as 4PL providers as well.

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Warehouse KPIs: Examples, Best Practices and More

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September 27, 2023
Warehouse key performance indicators (KPIs) provide in-depth details about your inventory status and warehouse performance. Even so, it is impossible to keep track of all your warehouse operations. Warehouse management systems help identify warehouse KPIs that need proper monitoring to measure efficiency and productivity.

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What is Order Fulfillment? Processes, Strategies and More

September 25, 2023
One of the most vital pieces of a successful business is a functioning and efficient order fulfillment strategy. If you own a retail store, this isn’t much of an issue; customers can come in and pull what they need right off of the shelf. However, if you rely on shipping to get products to customers, the whole order fulfillment process can get much trickier. Luckily, a streamlined and optimized strategy paired with a warehouse management system can make things easier. Let’s look at order fulfillment more closely.

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Warehouse Material Handling: A Comprehensive Guide

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September 17, 2023
Picture this scenario: a bustling warehouse with workers scurrying around, moving materials to and fro. How do they keep track of it all? Many warehouses use warehouse management systems (WMS) to streamline and automate inventory management, order picking and shipping tasks. Let’s dive in and discover how this powerful tool can make warehouse material handling a breeze.

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Smart Warehousing: What Are Smart Warehouse Systems?

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The future is now. That’s what it’s starting to feel like anyway. While we may not have the flying cars from “The Jetsons” and “Jaws 19” from “Back to the Future Part II” hasn’t hit theaters, our technology is advancing rapidly. Automation is more prevalent than ever, making our jobs exponentially easier. Smart warehousing via warehouse management software represents some of the best examples of businesses embracing this new technology.

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Warehouse Automation: Leveraging Automated Warehouse Systems

August 16, 2023
As more operations adopt automated tools and industrial robotics, warehouses are moving toward full automation. The boom in the eCommerce industry, multiple distribution channels and supply chains are pushing businesses to a greater level of warehouse automation. Companies adopt these cutting-edge tools alongside warehouse management software to stay agile and up-to-date.

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What Is Pick and Pack Fulfillment? Everything You Need To Know

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Picture this: a bustling warehouse where every item has its designated place, ready to be swiftly picked and expertly packed for shipment. Gone are the days of chaotic searching and time-consuming errors. Robust pick and pack processes can fulfill your orders with precision and speed.

Implementing a warehouse management software enhances picking and packing, on top of other vital functions.

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Market Guide to Cloud WMS

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Supply chains are the lifeblood of any business, sustaining the ability to compete for new customers while fulfilling orders and commitments to existing ones. For any company to grow, they have to excel in every aspect of supply chain management (SCM), from planning and logistics to fulfillment and optimization, including warehouse management. The competitive intensity in every industry is growing, making supply chains and the warehouses that enable them more important than ever. In ever-increasing numbers, businesses have adopted cloud WMS solutions to improve their supply chains.

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Building a Warehouse Management System Business Case

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All businesses put a high priority on making their supply chains efficient, economical and a strong contributor to profitable growth. The gains made throughout a supplier network are, at times, marginalized by inefficient distribution, storage and warehouse locations that don’t have a Warehouse Management System (WMS) in place, or are relying on one built for business requirements of the past. In high-performance supply chains, the WMS orchestrates every aspect of optimizing multiple warehouse locations, from receiving and storage to inventory management, order processing, shipping and Material Handling Device Control. In many ways, the WMS is the core of any supply chain and supplier network.

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Pros and Cons of Open-Source Warehouse Management Software

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Last Reviewed:

Whether or not a proprietary or open-source warehouse management software solution is best for a company depends on several factors. It depends on the company’s size, what types of inventory the business deals with, how many warehouses the company has, who’s working in the warehouses and many other details. In general, companies need to do plenty of research to select the best and most targeted IT resources for their business operations.

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