As you research warehouse management software options, you'll find that most software programs have the same basic structure and features built in. What you really want to pay attention to are the advanced features that help individualize each program to suit your needs. Here are some of the features you should be keeping an eye out for:
Full automation may seem like a far off dream for your current warehouse situation, but the ability to integrate automation features a little at a time is a huge bonus. It is always better to have this feature and not need it than to need it and not have it. If you suddenly decide to add automation to your warehouse, it may cost you an arm and a leg if your software doesn't support it.
Lot/Expiration Date Tracking
Product Lots and expiration dates can be used as the criterion for driving your first in, first out (FIFO) process. If your warehouse management software isn't making product rotation easier, it's time to upgrade. Lot controls and expiration date tracking don't just make your inventory easier to manage; they also serve an important part in making sure that your customers are getting the best quality products out of your warehouse.
The bulk of warehouse management programs focus on product movements from the time they are placed on your shelves until they are picked to fulfill orders by customers. However, the best software actually begins tracking product movements long before they have been put away in your warehouse. By including advanced dock features, you can check product in faster and get it routed back out the door without making extra stops. In addition, dock features usually include packing estimators and pallet organizers to help cut down on waste.
Cycle Count Planning
Your warehouse management software should be set up to enhance your cycle counting process. By offering paperless cycle counting functionality, you can reduce the time and staff required to complete cycle counts while improving efficiency and accuracy. Your WMS should also offer flexibility in inventory management, allowing you to move product between different categories or rearrange your counting schedule as needed.
There are many other advanced features that might be necessary for a specific industry, but these four features are "must haves" for today's warehouse management software. If you aren't shopping around for these features yet, you should consider them before your warehouse is left behind. Never underestimate the usefulness of some of these features, even if you don't plan on using them right away.