What capabilities should a multi-warehouse WMS have?

Few things are as exciting as growing to need multiple warehouses. But, it’s also a substantial risk to your operations if you don’t have the right way to manage it. When you upgrade your operations, it’s time to upgrade your software and expand to a multi-warehouse WMS designed to keep you organized and secure.

If you’re looking at next steps, here are five functionalities and capabilities you need in your new multi-warehouse WMS to ensure you’re ready to grow. 

Real-time data support

Inventory operating across multiple warehouses is complex. Putaway, picking, tracking, usage, and other needs all seem to grow exponentially. You can manage this with the right software, but only if that multi-warehouse WMS knows the state of things as they are at any given moment.

Real-time data and insight are a must-have because you need to understand total inventory as well as where each piece of inventory is located. If you can’t understand where things are, you can’t use them, and then it becomes more work to have multiple warehouses.

Cross-location inventory management and analytics
Beyond just knowing where your goods are, you need to be able to generate an understanding from your data. Management and analytics tools help significantly by looking for order patterns or identifying warehouse characteristics that can support your business. Multi-warehouse WMS tools should be able to help you determine how to stage and divide inventory and how to layout each warehouse for the best results.

Smart order routing

Automation continues to change how warehouses operate. One of the best automation tools for a multi-warehouse WMS is smart order routing that ensures orders automatically travel to a warehouse where the product is available.

It’ll limit stockouts and reduce manual checks needed to see if another location has the products to finish your order. Many systems take this a step further and — if configured/allowed — split up orders across locations that every warehouse if filling its part and getting orders to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Advanced picking and packing support

Running multiple warehouses changes the goals of your warehouses and workforce. They can generally improve by adopting labor practices tied to broader goals, but you need the software to support it. A multi-warehouse WMS, for instance, can support wave picking by making it possible to prioritize orders and clients, or even leave space so customers who pay for faster shipping that day are always on your last outbound truck.

If you find yourself needing to move goods across warehouse locations, multi-warehouse WMS can make this simpler. Tracking and inventory counts can be quickly reconciled and updated without leaving your system. Simple scans verify everything you need without POs or other paperwork for the transfer. They’ll also help you cross-dock, so the goods you’re moving can be used immediately.

Integration with your preferred tools

Your multi-warehouse WMS should work with the tools you already use to run your business. This is an essential part of any WMS, but it’s more important for larger operations like yours because the cost of rip-and-replace for any tool or software is larger.

Think large and small here. You want support for company-wide tools like your CRM, ERP, sales, and e-commerce platform. The “small” is also making sure it supports the handhelds and scanners in your warehouse, any smart systems you have from automation and robots to sprinklers, and your security tools.

The goal with a multi-warehouse WMS is to find a partner, both system and vendor, who are there to support your current operations and your growth plan.

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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

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