Three reasons to adopt a cloud WMS today
In your supply chain, every inch and every cent counts. A smarter warehouse management system can add feet and dollars to your business, allowing you to take advantage of good months and protect yourself against market shortfalls.
The modern WMS does this by deploying itself in the cloud as well as your warehouse, granting you improved visibility and the leverage you need to make smarter warehouse decisions. From faster upgrades and quicker support conversations with vendors to a system that is always able to process orders or make updates when your power goes out, there are plenty of big benefits for adopting a cloud warehouse management system (WMS).
Here are three chief areas where a cloud WMS can improve your operations and business intelligence.
1. Improve control over growth and use
Improving control over operations and inventory means more efficiently running your business.
Cloud-based WMS provides you with a detailed look at your inventory, updated automatically via sensors in your network, and makes all of this information readily available to stakeholders throughout your organization. You control the data collected and delivered, opening it up for greater analysis.
This allows you to shift expenditures from in-house software teams to analysts who can focus on improving operational efficiencies. You control investment and direct it to what matters.
Growth plays a factor in every aspect that we’re going to mention throughout this piece. What we’re starting with here is your ability to understand and control that growth on your terms. A cloud WMS choice will often allow you to pick and choose when and how you expand it to meet the other growth requirements and necessities in your business.
At its core, this is the flexibility of a smart and powerful system you can use to keep your business running smoothly and changing behind the scenes, so customers don’t notice any difference except improved service. You also have access to multiple flavors of flexibility and customization.
Reduce your hardware costs
Cloud systems scale with your needs – matching bandwidth to grow during busy seasons or scaling down during lean times – by adjusting cloud support without the need for new infrastructure.
You can add licenses to your subscription plan to accommodate growth or even support new business tactics. Some companies will give limited WMS access to sales and support teams to help answer customer questions and improve sales opportunities with the right data.
A new license purchase and a quick program install — or sometimes just bookmarking a new website — is all your team needs to get started. You’ve got fewer hardware requirements and some cases you might save compared to a traditional WMS that has a more rigid pricing structure.
2. Position customer service as a competitive advantage
Imagine that a customer calls your support line and asks about a shipment’s status. There’s no clearer death knell than your rep saying: “I don’t know.”
A cloud-based WMS will allow everyone on your team to determine the status of a package or shipment and relay that to customers in short order. Connected systems allow everyone to track shipments, verify or update arrival dates, and can even help that customer manage their own supply chain or warehouse.
These systems also provide you with the ability to deliver that information no matter where your rep is. If the call goes to a central office, the rep can simply access your cloud WMS data to find package locations, shipment orders, and other information. There’s no need to transfer the call or place them on hold while you try to hunt down information.
In the event something happens at your warehouse, customer service capabilities aren’t impacted.
Security can be your newest service benefit
This type of service is important if you’re working with highly regulated products or customers who are very picky about their data too. Cloud management tools, including a SaaS WMS, can enhance your company’s data security with the latest tools and innovations.
Cloud providers are also typically much faster to install and implement security patches and upgrades than dedicated staff. These providers have to do it for all of their clients as soon as a threat is identified, which gives you the benefit of having a partner who is proactively trying to protect you and keep you up-to-date.
Having your data stored in a secure data center gives you greater protection and can even limit some on-site access concerns. Rules and permissions are easy to create to manage which user can view what information, tracking access and placing restrictions as you need. Cloud systems will, in general, make these permissions easier to put into place on a user-level or for a specific customer of yours.
Plus, in the event of an emergency or disaster, you’re not left hoping that the one hard drive with your latest orders has survived.
3. Future-proof your supply chain’s data and capabilities
Logistics technology is slow to change, but once a new concept is adopted, it reaches across the entire supply chain. The cloud is reaching that adoption stage.
By moving your WMS to the cloud, you’re digitizing your data and providing status updates immediately through an electronic data interchange (EDI). The EDI allows your warehouse management to talk to your online store, ERP systems, and share information with your supply chain partners.
Many warehouse operations now desire EDI support, but soon this will become an extremely common WMS requirement. A cloud WMS helps you lay that foundation for future success.
Prepped and ready for expansion
The future we hope for all our businesses is to grow. In the warehouse, growth is wonderful because it usually means your business is succeeding. It also means you’ve got more space for products and extras, minimizing your risks around out-of-stocks. Sometimes warehouse growth also includes adding new locations that can reduce costs to ship to customers and increase the speed of your deliveries.
A cloud WMS supports these efforts by scaling with limited infrastructure demand. You don’t need a custom platform built or coded to expand if your provider offers support for multiple sites. It’s often just turning on a module and setting a few quick rules so that your order system automatically determines the right location to fill each order.
It’s one of the few growth areas that can be as simple as clicking a few buttons when you have a SaaS WMS. Or, it might take months of coding and development if you’ve built your own or are running a custom version of an on-premise platform.
It’s a specific type of scaling and being ready for it ahead of time can save you significantly.
Customizing as things changes
The last future-proof consideration is that your business is going to change. Sometimes that comes from products. Other times, customers may need different product combinations, seasonal sales, and suppliers shifts. Systems that can adapt to these changes are a must-have for any operation.
Look for a SaaS WMS partner that makes it easier to integrate new suppliers and shipping lanes, create new SKUs and product groups, or manage other preferences. The simpler it is, the better you’re prepared for the inevitable shakeup. The benefit of the cloud is that you typically have someone else working on these integrations or supports before the need arises.
Bonus reason: afford it even as you expand
The wide area network (WAN) connections that most companies will need, especially small businesses, to adopt and run a cloud WMS are steadily dropping in price for equipment and connectivity. The current trend in the U.S. and major markets in the EU is to reduce costs while also increasing speeds.
So, you’ll get all the benefits above and can expect to pay a reasonable price. The best news is that reduced costs here can mean lower costs for your WMS, whether you run your own or outsource it. You also can avoid the big rip-and-replace costs that come when you outgrow an on-site WMS.
Cloud warehouse management tools often are best positioned to keep up with the pace of change in a business. Your business must be flexible and adaptive to customer changes without ramping up costs to an untenable level, so be sure to ask that of your software options too.
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