Six advanced WMS features to consider during requirements analysis

The number of warehouse management systems seems to increase each day, establishing a set of baseline tools and support but also creating a large gulf between what’s standard and what is best-of-breed.

Advanced WMS features can often help you increase margins, cut costs, and enhance the safety of your warehouse. Here are six top features that you can consider and use to start brainstorming about what unique functionality would be good for your business.

1. Advanced verification support

Today, there are many WMS that offer some sort of truck loading and offloading verification. However, this tends to be limited by requiring some human interaction or specific devices that aren’t located near the truck.

We suggest you look for a platform that can perform lot number, serial number, and trailer label tracking with input and verification controls on mobile devices and scanners. Such support makes it easier to manage your inventory and speed up your overall warehouse processes.

2. Slotting and picking optimization

Surprisingly, this hasn’t become a mainstay in every WMS under the sun. It will, and the sooner the better, but for now you’ll want to verify that you get some support for picking and putting away locations.

Smart WMS will base its optimization on the physical speeds that goods and teams can move, plus prioritize goods that are used more often.

3. Hazmat support

Your WMS isn’t going to don a hazmat suit and put goods away for you, but it can help keep your team safe with broader reporting and tracking of hazardous materials. If you’re in this space or sometimes need such materials around, consider a WMS to has access to expanded CAS code options to support storage and picking of hazardous materials.

Find warehouse technology with the features you need using this free online WMS comparison tool

4. Incident tracking

If something does go wrong with those hazardous materials — or really anywhere else in your warehouse — tracking it is the first step in preventing it next time.

Look for a WMS that automates some incident tracking as well as allows manual inputs of incidents. It’ll boost your ability to resolve these issues, manage your workforce and assets, and ultimately run a better business that makes customers happy.

5. Simple personalization

Customization is a go-to requirement for just about everyone considering a WMS, so why did it make a list of advanced features? Because it can be a giant pain when it’s complicated.

If a vendor can prove to you — typically through customer references — that customization and advanced integration options are easy, give them a little boost to the “advanced” list. With APIs and other tools, you may be able to capture and use data your WMS generates in a variety of novel ways that can improve your business.

6. An off switch on secondary features

Many different WMS are built to address the needs of a wide range of customers and situations. This will often make them feel bloated with content and capabilities you don’t need, but you must take time to maintain and verify after updates and upgrades.

A modular structure could allow you to turn off or remove some of these features, making it easy to use only what you want and need. This design style also simplifies your requirements for scaling as business grows.

Spend time with that you need and what you know helps your business by selecting a WMS that uses a modular architecture, which is sometimes presented as in an app-store styled ability to select your tools.

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting