The ever-increasing globalization of business makes logistics an indispensable and growing sector. As companies continue to expand into new markets, they’re looking for reliable partners to help them keep their supply chains well-oiled, especially in the post-pandemic and geopolitically unstable world. Amidst all of this, logistics companies are facing many challenges but also opportunities, which they’re tackling assisted by various types of digital tools. In this post we’ll have a closer look at custom warehouse inventory software in particular and how it can help you get a leg up in the industry.
Logistics is a rather broad term and not all companies that fall under the umbrella are alike. Their scopes of operation can be vastly different, however, storage and distribution of goods remains a key component of the greater supply chain.
If stockpiling and dispatching inventory is a part of your business, you may need a warehouse management system that fits you like a glove in order to optimize your warehouse management practices.
Here’s a comprehensive look at WMS and the role it plays in modern logistics company’s processes.
What is a warehouse management system (WMS)?
A warehouse management system is a software platform for automating operations such as the reception and storage of stock, packing and order completion, shipping and tracking using geospatial data visualization, warehouse navigation, workforce demand planning, and more.
With custom warehouse management software you can operate any number of warehouses located anywhere on the globe. Also, it will integrate with your ERP and other logistics systems you may have in place, including order management, product information management, yard management, and any shipping carriers’ systems.
The stock you’re holding at the warehouse is indeed the bread and butter of your operations, the central point around which all the other actions are centered, so having an adequate system for its proper management seems only natural.
What are the key features of a warehouse management system?
The exact needs and points of vulnerability in a logistics company’s greater structure will vary, however, you can address some of them by looking for certain essential functionalities in the warehouse inventory management software you’ll implement.
One essential feature is stock reception and storage management, which includes ID verification, quality inspections, and storage recommendations. Another one is order picking and packing, with support for batch orders and packing recommendations to ensure efficient and accurate order fulfillment.
To navigate the warehouse effectively, look for a system with automated routing, including visual and voice guidance. You'll also need stock control and tracking features, with real-time monitoring, stock rotation rules, lot and serial number tracking, as well as expiration date management. Your WMS also has to allow for easy scheduling and calculation of shipping rates and time estimates, as well as have the ability to merge orders and track dispatch history.
When it comes to reverse logistics, you need automated stock return routing and tracking features, as well as further processing capabilities, which can save time and reduce errors. Work planning capabilities, such as resource planning and real-time task assignment, can help you optimize workforce performance. Finally, analytics and reporting tools, including customizable dashboards and automated report generation, can help you make informed decisions about stock demand, optimization, and workforce forecasting.
Key drivers of warehouse automation
Warehouse management automation is a game-changer for businesses wanting to improve efficiency of their operations and reduce costs. By automating routine tasks such as inventory tracking, order processing, and shipping, companies can free up time and resources to focus on higher-level activities such as strategy development and customer service.
On that last note, it’s worth bringing up the statistics showing that the available delivery options and its speed are crucial factors informing the decisions of many customers online.
- 88% will pay for extra for same-day delivery
- 48% of customers are unlikely to purchase again with a company that sends the order late
- 86% of ecommerce customers are reviewing the return policy before making a purchase
These numbers are not to be ignored. What they basically mean is that ⅔ to ¾ of online shoppers pay particular attention to the logistics aspects of customer service, although they obviously don’t think of it as logistics. In any case, you need to be able to address these issues accordingly in order to meet the expectations.
Moreover, warehouse automation can lead to greater accuracy, consistency, and efficiency, reducing the risk of errors that can negatively affect your bottom line.
- 60-65% of warehouse operation budget goes to labor costs
- 27% of order fulfillment issues are due to staff turnover
These aspects can be easily optimized with a warehouse management system designed to make the best use of your available resources.
Constant technological evolution is another driver of warehouse automation. Many innovative solutions like:
- artificial intelligence
- industrial IoT
- interconnected warehouse systems
are now making it possible to streamline warehouse management, so that it becomes easier than ever for companies to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment and meet all the demands.
Off-the-shelf vs. custom warehouse management system
When trying to decide whether you should go with a ready-made or a custom warehouse management system software, you’ll have two major areas of concern – its capabilities and costs.
The solution you’ll employ for your warehouse management processes has to be capable of serving all your existing sites and incorporating new ones when you expand. It also needs to offer features and modules that meet all your organization’s logistics needs. Finally, it has to be able to handle complex integrations with your existing systems and data migration procedures well.
So, how well does the solution you’re currently considering address these needs? Does it tick all the boxes, or does it come in short on some aspects?
A logistics company just starting out will most likely do fine with an off-the-shelf solution. However, one that’s looking to enhance its operations and grow, may want to consider a more tailored approach to optimize its business.
The initial investment in custom warehouse management software may be greater, but eventually you’ll be looking at major improvements in areas such as inventory loss and shrinkage, workforce utilization, analytics, and order fulfillment accuracy.
Why adopt custom warehouse management software?
If you’re still unsure which way to go, consider the following. Custom warehouse inventory software is a must for logistics companies which:
- Operate in a unique way and / or have specific requirements. Ready-made software solutions simply won’t cut it for these organizations and will require either considerable customization or adjustment to the operational processes already in place, both of which are counterproductive and costly.
- Process a high, and perhaps increasing volume of orders on the daily and need to boost the efficiency. These organizations will face rising costs using non-custom WMS often based on usage volume tiers.
- Run complex warehouse operations at multiple levels and need their WMS to have specific features that will improve the company’s performance in multiple areas.
If your logistics company fits into any of these categories, the implementation of custom warehouse software seems like the next reasonable step to keep growing
Benefits of custom warehouse management software
All kinds of customization services exist for strong reasons, and it’s no surprise they’re highly coveted. In the business context, tailored software empowers your organization and helps to bring its strong points to the forefront. The biggest benefit stemming from customized software is that it meets your organization’s specific needs and gives it a competitive edge over someone using an off-the-shelf solution.
Some specific benefits of custom WMS include:
Warehouse management software developed on demand will involve modules and functionalities that address your specific needs. It’s not about you who has to fit into an existing platform, it’s about a solution that understands and enhances the ways in which you operate. Importantly, working with a competent software development partner, you can rest assured the option for adding any features, should they become required in the future, will be included in the architecture.
The logistics environment has the potential to rapidly change, so you want to be able to adjust your warehouse operations accordingly. A warehouse management platform developed on demand will give you the opportunity to include expansion factors such as the number of users and sites, quantity and frequency of processed orders, new shipping partners, and so on, to allow you to scale up easily.
Often times, readily available WMS offer only a fixed selection of third-party platform integrations. Custom warehouse management software, on the other hand, will let you choose which external systems to integrate with in order to keep your workflow automated. There’s no real limit as to the number of integrations that can be included.
Modularity and cross-platform implementation
Another benefit of a WMS built to your specifications is that it can be compartmentalized into individual modules for various areas of operation of your warehouse such as logistics, stock, shipping, scheduling, cross-docking and others. Also, the system will run smoothly on all types of devices so that you can stay on top of things wherever you are.
Custom warehouse software located on a dedicated virtual server promises you greater stability and security of operations, which may be particularly important if you’re handling exceptionally valuable stock.
All in all, by opting for a bespoke WMS you increase your ability to innovate and succeed, especially in a very competitive market. To unlock this potential, you need a trusted software development partner, experienced in the logistics niche.
Develop your warehouse inventory system with RST Software
I’m glad you made it all the way down here. Let me take this opportunity to show you why RST Software is the partner you should trust with building a tailored warehouse inventory management system.
First off, we’ve been in the digital business for over two decades now. Over this time period and on top of multiple other technologies, we’ve brought experts on board specializing in a number of areas crucial for the logistics industry such as:
Second, let me tell you about one of our biggest projects so far, which has been the development of Europe’s 2nd largest road transport platform – Trans.eu. You can learn about a part of its scope in our custom logistics platform case study.
It’s also worth to highlight some of the major tasks we’ve handled as a part of the project:
- Cost optimization through hybrid cloud architecture
- Saving over $420,000 in monthly map APIs usage by switching to OpenStreetMap
- Building a scalable system that handles over 100,000 active daily users
- Designing, developing and managing 70+ spatial databases that store and automatically update open-source geodata for each country Trans.eu operates in
With all that being said, we’re ready and capable of helping you build warehouse inventory software that will optimize and elevate your operations to the next level. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get the ball rolling today.