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Our team of Fulfilment Consultants share warehouse management best practice and advice.

Understanding the WMS e-commerce ecosystem

WRITTEN BY Paul Mullin /

31 January 2017

E-commerce is dealing with emerging platforms that are transforming the ecosystem and stretching the limitations of what can be achieved in the industry. A successful e-commerce ecosystem must be fluid and adaptable so that it can react to the demands of the market even during peak periods.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are integral to the e-commerce ecosystem and a good one will be able to sit alongside and integrate with a network of interconnected systems that make your WMS e-commerce operation work more smoothly. These systems include:

E-commerce platform

This is the back end of an e-commerce operation, the system used to track orders and essentially make the money such as Magento and Shopify. You can integrate these with most WMS systems, that can enable real-time inventory updates to maximise sales and eliminate overselling, as well as provide live despatch confirmations and tracking, by using our off-the-shelf plugins. Some WMS also offer the ability to write your own integration if they have an open API.

Sales channel

This is essentially how products are placed on the e-commerce platform. You will want your WMS e-commerce ecosystem to be closely linked to this channel.  Managing inventory, especially across multiple marketplaces, can bring with it many logistical challenges. With the integration of your sales channels and WMS you are able to manage that process quite easily, and ensure that you have real-time stock data from your warehouse so you will know exactly when to stop selling the product online.

Shipping labels

Any WMS e-commerce operation looking to run a smooth operation will want shipping labels printed on demand so that the pack and despatch process is made as smooth as possible. Your WMS should be able to integrate with your chosen shipping partner or partners, so that you can fulfil that requirement, as well as closing the loop by sending tracking information back to your staff in the back office.

Retail software

Having up to date inventory data alongside the ability to share it with each part of your business is vital to an e-commerce operation. It ensures you don’t sell items that are out of stock and lets you know exactly what products you have and where across your entire business, whether contained in one location or dotted across the country. Only with a WMS that integrates with your retail software will you be able to know your exact inventory and when the right time is to replenish your stock.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

These usually tend to have limited order functionality. By combining it with a WMS you can automate the goods inbound process and reconcile purchases with what has been received. This means that your warehouse operations are streamlined and make your operations more efficient.

Accounting

As you begin to scale up you will see that there is a limit to what your accounting software can achieve. A WMS can work alongside your accounting software to reduce the volume of transactions you run through it.

Conclusion

Integrating your WMS and the rest of your e-commerce platforms is particularly important, you will want to ensure that you think carefully about each part of your ecosystem and ensure that they work well together. If you choose the wrong system you could see it have a knock on effect on your whole supply chain, so think carefully about each step of your e-commerce ecosystem.

You can view what integrations we offer here.

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