Every business needs a system to manage their day-to-day operations, and eCommerce is no different. As I am already into eCommerce vertical, for a long enough time, I will share the next stage of the process since my last blog. I am sure that my experience will surely help and upcoming new ventures, businesses, and newbies to acquaint themselves with new skills.
Well, before I start, I will walk you through the rough idea of discussion hereunder. I will talk about eCommerce and its multi-channel approach. As I move to the next stage from my last blog, the process & planning needed for the future-proof approach and how a newbie or a new business can leverage the forth-coming unprecedented issues and learn how to tackle them.
Warehouse Management System, Messaging System, Pricing System and a few more skills and processes are needed basically to get started. Every process itself can be a complete book, and all these need to be inter-related for the smooth functioning of your eCommerce business. There is no specific rule on which tool you should use to get the process right.
There are many tools in the market, but you would be confident using any tool, if you learn about the process right way. However, once we have finished discussing the process, I will also suggest the best tool in the market, and I will walk you through warehouse management systems benefits and why & how the tools I recommend are better than others. They could be better in terms of pricing, usefulness and performance depending on the process.
What is Warehouse Management System (WMS)?
In simple words, a warehouse management system is a system that will store all sorts of information needed for the smooth operations of your business. This can include anything and everything. Essentially, any WMS system would be compatible enough to store the information regarding your inventories, orders, customers, shippers etc.
WMS should ideally be compatible enough to store any sorts of information regarding your products. Any single product can have many different formats i.e. bundle products, variation products, and other digital forms of products. I will discuss different types of inventory, and how things change at varying levels of inventory management in the later sections or in my upcoming blogs, hence I will skip it for now.
WMS also help you manage your orders that you may receive from your various sales channels. Channels in here mean the platforms where you would be selling your goods or services. It doesn’t make sense just to sell your products on a single platform unless you are a very famous brand. So you would of course be selling at various eCommerce platforms like eBay or Amazon or your website. Hence, many call this type of system as order management software as well.
Customer Relationship Management
When you receive an order from any of the channels within your system or WMS or warehouse management system, it is not a blank order. Your order would consist of the products for which the customer placed the order and the customer details. So the details of the customer include their name, user name on the relevant platform, and the email address and correspondence address, which gives you a complete edge over your digital marketing strategy for your future version of sales. However, because of this feature, many people also call this system as a CRM system.
While you would want to manage your orders from all your relevant channels, it is not ideal to keep receiving all the orders and customer details within the system and not dispatch the order out. Once the order is received, you would apply relevant shipper depending on the location and value of the order and many other rules. Once you are satisfied with the shipping couriers, you process the appropriate order to print the label including tracking details for that package, making your life easier to keep track of your inventory, order, customers and delivery. Hence, many call this system as Shipping Management System as well.
Types of Warehouse Management Systems
If you start looking for the options, you will find too many types of warehouse management software. However, it will be a total mess, and you will end up nowhere if you keep analysing which software to choose and which one to move ahead with. So I have discussed the main features to look for before selecting any specific WMS. However, it is not an ideal way to identify any particular tool as good or bad. But it would be best if you always kept an eye on the benefits you can squeeze out of the tool and how it will be helpful for your current & future needs of the business.
There are many types of warehouse management systems in the market. Every WMS is different and few are good at something and few are good at something else. There are many big players into this niche i.e. WMS system. Many systems just boast about serving a very specific niche of customers like manufacturers only. Many have decided to grab the niche market of wholesalers. There are quite a few who are just concentrating their strategy just for the eCommerce retailers. Depending on their specific niche, these WMS boast about the features they provide to these specific customers and they will claim to be the best in the market.
You will also find that there are WMS systems, which are internationally renowned and they claim that they offer their services and functionality to every region on the planet. So, this leads to the next level of research.
Which is the best warehouse management systems for the UK market?
As a user, I do have my personal choice, which I will disclose eventually. But before that I would like to clarify that nobody is paying me for marketing these tools, products, software or WMS system, I am just going to suggest it entirely on my experience, and there is nothing biased about it. As I am already into the business for more than 7 years, and hence I have started sharing my skills and knowledge so that someone in need can grow themselves. However, every business owner should know what to look for before choosing the right tool for their business.
Through this daunting task of investing in a tool, I have wasted lots of money and realising the lack of a system in the relevant tool. So when I find that the specific requirements for a business operation can’t be fulfilled by that tool and have to eventually move to the other available options and start looking for other suitable option, which has made every aspect of the decision that I am jotting down in here.
I have discussed how warehouse management system works in general. But every business has different needs and every aspect needs to be dealt with accordingly.
As I am currently talking about eCommerce businesses, I will explain how to explore the options accordingly. I have already discussed the generic features. Still, some features need specific attention, which would help make decision to go with a particular range of software. Like, every eCommerce business would need a tool that would help businesses list their inventory items onto their relevant selling platforms. But when we look at the available options of Warehouse Management Systems, there are very few systems that allow this feature, and the absence of this feature may lead to such a daunting task for many of the businesses. Some businesses just keep the process of listing utterly separate from their inventory database.
When the order starts coming through into the system, it becomes very tedious process to match items against each other. This is just one of the missing aspect which creates a mess from the operations.
Few well known WMS systems are Linnworks, Channel Advisor, Volo, Seller Dynamics and the list goes on. I will discuss on the best features in my future blogs.
What is 3PL Warehouse Management System?
This type of WMS offers a cloud-based system that offers 3rd party logistics system to manage the process of your warehouse. This is one of the most profound concepts, and I will not touch base on this aspect in our discussion. The main reason is that this doesn’t fall under the criteria of warehouse management systems for small business. Hence, this is not an ideal form of WMS to consider for your eCommerce business.
How to improve warehouse management system?
I have discussed every aspect of the eCommerce business requirement and how to choose a proper WMS. There is still something to consider that, even if you buy any highly sophisticated software like SAP warehouse management or any other high-end software, you would eventually need to tweak the settings as per the operations of your business. Depending on the requirements, you would need to update the database settings for inventory, order and shipping management. You would also need to automate a few tasks to settle the order you would need to dispatch via specific shippers or even if you don’t want to ship particular orders.
I hope you guys would have had the basic understanding of warehouse management systems and how the system works and why it is needed. This topic was highly concentrated for the eCommerce buyers who have crossed the stage of planning stage from my previous blog and are ready for the upcoming stages that would go deeper once the essential planning and consideration of the relevant tools are done.
If you guys may have any queries, please do write in comments and I will surely reply back with all relevant details, and if the question is very specific and needs a detailed explanation, I will also create a separate blog for the same. Look forward to your concerns with curiosity 😊……………….