Warehouse Management System (WMS) Trends for 2019
The pressure on retailers to fill orders faster has made it imperative to streamline the pack and ship process. Many companies are finding technology to be the fastest and most cost-effective way to improve productivity and fulfillment in the warehouse for shorter delivery turnaround times.
Technologies such as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) improve warehouse efficiency, but it’s also important to streamline processes. One solution is a warehouse management system (WMS). In addition to managing receiving, shipping, and inventory, a WMS provides data analysis and insights that enable more informed business decisions.
Greater adoption of WMS technology is one strong warehouse trend for 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the other trends that will affect warehouse management this year.
Machine learning has made its way into the warehouse management system. New algorithms enable the WMS to learn from shipper behavior and react to changing demand within the warehouse with less need for human intervention.
One example is intelligent batch picking. Clint Reiser, research analyst at the ARC Advisory Group, reports that the use of this capability is increasing. Wave-less fulfillment is another trend on the rise, particularly in ecommerce, with more companies using warehouse control systems (WCS) and automation to carry out these tasks. High Jump, JDA, and Manhattan are WMS vendors that offer this capability to interject rush orders in the midst of pushing out a wave, says Reiser.
Optimizing the last mile
The last mile is rapidly becoming the testing ground for shipping efficiency. Companies that cannot handle complex routes and deliveries will not be able to service today’s market. This has a couple of key implications for warehouse management:
- Pick and pack needs to be faster, more flexible, and more accurate.
- Returns need to be handled correctly, such as with disposition on whether the purchased item can be resold.
Along with supporting pick and pack optimization, a WMS can track the status of a returned product for rework, quality control, repackaging, salvage, or waste. The software’s inventory management capabilities allow shippers to know exactly where items are, even when products are siloed across business groups (e.g., warehouse vs. in-store inventory).
Plays well with others
WMS suppliers are realizing that integration across all parts of an enterprise is necessary for each individual part to function optimally. For this reason, one growing trend is for WMS to be both more user-friendly and also interoperable with other company systems, such as ERP, TMS, OMS, and shopping cart programs.
Efficiency, streamlining, optimization — these are the essentials of fulfillment and shipping for retailers to meet their customers’ expectations. A WMS gives shippers the tools to efficiently run warehouse operations with streamlined processes and data insights that aid optimization now and in the future.