There is plenty of chatter about Warehouse Management Systems and high dollar tools that can streamline your warehouse and take over tasks for you, but what are the real secrets behind their success? There are a few simple principles that stand out in successful warehouses that are worth applying to your own operation.
- Focus on Integration - Converting to a fully functional WMS may seem like a dream, but the reality is that it requires cooperation from a great number of people, not just within your organization but also on the outside. For instance, changing procedures may affect your vendors or your shipment scheduling. You will need to work closely with all affected parties to truly integrate your new WMS top to bottom. Failing this, your new warehouse management tools may only be functional in certain areas of your warehouse, negating some of the greatest benefits.
- Prepare to Evolve - Your customers evolve, your product lineup evolves, and your systems evolve. You need your company to be flexible enough to handle changes with ease. If you get yourself in a position where you are too reliant on a single group of people or things to keep it all together, you need to figure out how to regain balance. Demand trends are one of the biggest changes that you need to ride up and down every year. Having the right tools in place year round makes it easier to predict those trends and prepare appropriately.
- Use Data To Serve Your Customers Better - Customers only expect what you tell them to expect. If you say your product will be in their hands in two days, that's what they expect. If it's going to take longer than that, just tell them. You have enough software at your disposal to provide your customers with accurate delivery timelines. Don't get in the habit of overpromising and underdelivering.
- Make Sure Your Staff is Bought In - Your customers know when your staff is careless. You need your staff to buy in to the customer service and quality you want to offer. The WMS may very well be doing the bulk of the work, but it is the humans who will be held responsible if an order is wrong. Your staff needs to understand why the WMS is important to them, but they also need to know its weaknesses and where they can pick up the slack.
These are the four qualities of warehouse management that most often translate to success whether you're in manufacturing, distribution or retail. When it's all said and done, it is all about your customer's experience.