A Perfect Storm

Saas and Android developments are combining to make a move to e-commerce WMS a no brainer…but don’t overlook ease of integration      

SaaS and Android are ringing the changes in WMS which is signalling the end of an era previously dominated by ageing, clunky and costly legacy WMS systems.

E-commerce retail warehouses are leading the charge, combining SaaS flexibility and Android mobility to transform the efficiency of their warehouse fulfilment operations. For many, the SaaS model is bringing welcome relief, finally allowing live to the second views of inventory, while more effectively addressing day to day operational pressures such as Goods Receipt, Picking, Packing and Shipping accuracy, Next and Same Day deliveries, and Returns management.

Of course, the growing rate of SaaS adoption in the warehouse is being helped along by the increasing reliability of wireless internet, the availability of 4G, and in some cases, like Peoplevox, offline operating modes. These additional ‘comforts’ are providing extra peace of mind to those businesses still a little wary of business continuity issues when it comes to online Cloud-based systems.

With these positive developments the business benefits of a subscription-based SaaS software delivery model versus outright purchase, or re-engineering existing legacy systems, are being swiftly recognised. Among them, lower total cost of ownership, rapid deployment, scalability, software maintenance and updates performed remotely, minimal reliance on in-house IT staff - less risk altogether.

Increased Mobility

At the same time, with the end in sight for Windows Mobile and Windows C/E and the growing popularity of the Android operating system, a new breed of mobile-first WMS systems is emerging.

Putting powerful WMS at the fingertips of operatives, supervisors and managers gives greater agility by placing them ‘at the point of activity’. Scanning, Picking, Packing and Shipping are prime examples. This is enabling faster and more accurate decision making by delivering live to the second inventory status, as well as allowing the selling of goods that have still to be stored away.

Further benefits address the need for greater accuracy in shipping, increased productivity, faster fulfilment turnaround, and the maximising of sales opportunities.

Enhanced warehouse operative mobility also contributes to job satisfaction and optimised staffing levels, leading to a reduction in staff turnover and the incurring of unnecessary labour costs.

Integration is the key

In addition to offering simplified, lower cost deployment and greater mobility, some of the latest Saas-based e-commerce WMS systems are much easier than others to integrate with e-commerce and legacy software already in place.

It’s therefore extremely worthwhile checking out the integration characteristics of your intended SaaS WMS before making a final commitment.   

Some good reasons why:  

Maximising the bottom line

Seamlessly connecting the WMS with your e-commerce platform enables real-time inventory updates, letting you know exactly what stock you have to sell, where it is located and what needs replenishing. This, and live despatch confirmations and tracking help maximise sales opportunities, increase customer satisfaction/loyalty and ultimately, the bottom line.

Managing Sales Channels

Managing inventory can be very time consuming, and even more so if you have to do it over several marketplaces. Having a WMS that can integrate with all your marketplaces can reduce the logistical challenges that this presents.

Streamlined Packing and Shipping

On demand printing of shipping labels so you can pack and despatch quickly is essential. Choosing a WMS that integrates with delivery management systems - or lets you write your own delivery management system integrations - will fulfil this requirement, allowing you to streamline your packing and shipping process.

Automated Goods In/Receipt

Some WMS integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning solutions, some of which have limited order functionality. By combining an ERP with a WMS you can automate the goods inbound process and check purchases against what has been received.