What's a mobile WMS and is it worth the investment?

We run our music, photos, TVs, lights, and homes from our mobile devices, so why are so many warehouses stuck in the technological dark ages?

Today, many of the leading warehouse management systems offer mobile WMS support for flagship and specialty products, whether you’re large, small, in-between, or in a very specific niche. Mobile access through apps and web portals provides an easy way for you to leverage existing technology and improve your existing floor activity.

Your staff is already on the smartphones during the work day, so why not put that screen time to good use. Here are just a few top reasons that you should consider adopting a mobile WMS for your operations.

More support from more devices

Pairing a mobile WMS with your existing scanners and smartphones that have scanner attachments will allow you to expand your WMS inputs using the existing equipment you’re providing your employees – or supporting if you run a BYOD program.

Recommended reading: find mobile WMS to suit your warehouse using our up-to-date WMS vendor directory

Mobile devices make a variety of your daily warehouse tasks easier. They can operate across your entire network, without interruptions as you move between locations thanks to mobile devices’ capabilities of accessing 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks. You can continue to track, receive, put away, fulfill orders, or transfer stock as you go without worrying about Wi-Fi dead spots that often crop up in warehouses.

Mobile support of your WMS also allows your team to take greater steps in problem-solving. A traditional scanner may be able to load what goods should be on your shelves, but a handheld accessing a mobile WMS can look at expected inventory levels plus inquire into recent history to see there was a data gap in moving stock or fulfilling an order that should be updated.

Mobile WMS is familiar to your team

Most team members will benefit from a mobile WMS because of they are designed to work with smartphones and apps, which the majority of your staff likely use during their everyday lives. It’s expected that more than 72% of American adults currently own a smartphone and more than 67% in both Canada and the UK.

Smartphones are common in Europe and North America, so companies with multiple warehouses on multiple continents can also expect apps to be familiar across their footprint.

Familiarity typically means a reduction in training requirements for your team, allowing them to learn new locations of buttons with ease because they do not need to learn new types of interactions.

Many common mobile WMS offerings work across a variety of devices — consumer-focused Android and iOS devices plus enterprise-focused mobiles, tablets, and scanners from brands like Motorola. This helps your team work in familiar environments and may even further reduce the time it takes them to learn and start successfully using your new technology.

Full WMS, just in more locations

Perhaps the best news of all is that you’re not losing any of the core features of your WMS when you choose a platform that also offers mobile WMS support. Mobile management solutions still talk back to the full WMS and can integrate with other platforms like your ERP to deliver faster updates for inventory levels and shipping times right away.

Many of today’s leading WMS providers offer their mobile WMS at a small fixed cost or may provide a licensing deal that requires a single app license for your company plus a small app fee per device. Others may include a certain number of mobile licenses within a WMS subscriptions. These fixed costs allow you to quickly determine your costs and see if the improved efficiencies are right for you.

You can bolster your WMS automation and achieve even greater improvements in productivity and reductions in cost. You get a platform your staff is more familiar with, that’s more powerful to correct errors or track changes on the floor, and delivers a competitive advantage customers will likely notice.

author image
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.

author image
Geoff Whiting