As retailers and manufacturers navigate the challenges of the post-COVID economy, an optimized workflow and distribution network is imperative to their success. Logistics companies and the global supply chain have suffered many disruptions over the last year, leading to many experts urging companies to invest in key supply chain innovations, such as effectively managed warehouse management systems, to help them weather the crisis as the economy continues to bounce back slowly.
What is a Warehouse Management System?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software tool that offers visibility into a warehouse’s inventory and manages supply chain fulfillment from the time an order is placed to when it is delivered to the customer. Regardless of a fulfillment center’s size, it allows companies to optimize their workflow and meet demand by coordinating resource usage and material flow in one organized space.
Immediately after a customer places an order, the warehouse management system will begin checking inventory to see if the product is available. It will then mark the order accordingly rather than a warehouse employee having to manually cross-reference the customer’s order and the product stock. This not only saves manpower at a time when labor shortages are at an all-time high, but also speeds up product fulfillment, allowing for companies to meet current supply chain demand.
The Post-COVID Workplace
The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely altered supply chain operations. Now more than ever, we are experiencing a need for skilled workers while the labor shortage and unemployment numbers remain hot topics across the country. Like many others, the warehouse industry faced recruiting problems and an aging workforce even long before the pandemic. And now with the economy reopening and businesses striving to attain a “post-Covid” environment, many former employees have been hesitant to return to their old positions, citing concerns associated with the Delta variant, insufficient pay, and challenging working conditions.
In addition to labor concerns, organizations are also faced with challenges such as material shortages and other logistics disruptions. However, even in the face of many challenges, the demand and the need from the consumer side is greater than ever. This has left many companies looking for ways to increase their productivity, efficiency, and resiliency so they are prepared for future challenges– and even smaller enterprises are realizing that efficient warehouse management systems are a critical component for success in the post-COVID era.
Benefits of Utilizing Warehouse Management Systems
While businesses faced many of the challenges mentioned above, throughout the height of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, many also experienced a growth in e-commerce demand for which they were not equipped. Manufacturers and logistics providers of every size quickly became aware of the flaws within their current systems — and as a result, shipping times grew longer, customer service fell short, and it became more difficult to keep up. While many are quickly adapting to the growing demand, there is always room for improvement. In fact, the pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for many to revamp and greatly improve their operations. As companies continue to evolve, it is important to recognize that the digital technologies that many have been hesitant to adopt are the way of the future. Warehouse management systems are an extremely effective tool to assist in day-to-day operations and allow companies to remain competitive in the post-COVID economy.
Key benefits of warehouse management systems include:
- Lower warehouse operation expenses
- Greater inventory visibility
- Labor streamlining
- Improved customer service/faster shipping times
- Supply chain resiliency
Integrated vs. Standalone
There are two options for companies to choose from when looking for a warehouse management system to help them manage their operations.
Standalone – A standalone warehouse management system is typically the more affordable option. Standard features can help companies manage the full continuum of fulfillment operations, including:
- Order receiving
- Picking inventory
- Packing orders
Integrated – An integrated warehouse management system is an addition to an existing Enterprise Resources Planning provider (ERP). An ERP is used to manage company invoicing, accounting, and inventory. Adding on an integrated WMS system facilitates a process whereby receiving, picking, packing and shipping of products can all be tracked within the existing ERP as well.
Optimizing Your Warehouse
Now more than ever, it is vital that enterprises take a strategic approach to warehouse management. And an effective warehouse management system is just one of many tools that manufacturers and their logistics partners can use to make their supply chain more streamlined and efficient. Other critical assets can include plastic pallets from iGPS, which are lighter, durable, and 100% recyclable. They also incorporate RFID technology, making them traceable and readable by automated systems.
The challenges faced as a result of the pandemic are far from over, but investing in effective, efficient warehouse management systems will help companies meet demand and remain competitive as the industry continues to evolve.
Companies committed to streamlined warehouse operations use iGPS plastic pallets for all their shipping needs. Our lightweight, recyclable plastic pallets can help reduce harmful emissions and your Total Cost of Business. For more information, contact us at 1-866-557-0047, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.