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Warehouse Management Blog

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

6 things to consider when choosing a WMS for eCommerce

How To

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

11 August 2015

It’s important to make sure that you choose the right warehouse management system (WMS) for eCommerce because it could make or break your business. Implement the wrong one and you could have spent vast amounts of money on a system that simply cannot handle your requirements.

So what do you need to consider when choosing a WMS for eCommerce?

1. Simplicity

People like what they are familiar with so it’s good to choose a WMS for your eCommerce warehouse that has a simple user interface. If your operators struggle to understand the basic workings of the system then they are more likely to oppose using it, or to use it incorrectly, and that is no good thing in any warehouse.

2. Training

Linked to the previous point, the WMS that you choose to implement should require very little training to get your workers up to speed. Why? Because when peak hits and you have to bring in ten new temps, you’re not going to want to spend a week training them on how the system works. The right WMS for eCommerce should take as little as thirty minutes to train operators how to pick, pack and despatch.

Take a look at our case studies to see how this is possible.

3. Scaleable

You may only be a small fish now but eCommerce is one big, big pond and there is plenty of room for you to grow. In fact, if you’re going to be any challenge to the bigger fish, scaling up is a must. As such, it is very important to choose a WMS that can grow and expand with you, particularly in the ever-changing world of eCommerce.

A few examples of scaling up include being able to increase the number of orders that you can pick, pack, and despatch every day; adapting to more advanced picking methods to suit your warehouse space; coping with seasonal fluctuations; and the ability to add new geographic warehouse sites to serve new markets.

4. Data

Anyone who’s anyone knows how important data is in eCommerce and if you don’t then look it up! The problem with many companies is that they are in one of two positions: either they don’t have any data to use; or they have plenty of data but don’t know what to do with it. The best position to be in is the latter, because at least you can change that with a little educating, for instance, taking a look at our blog post on data interpretation and segmentation. The right WMS for eCommerce should provide you with countless rich reports on which you can make informed decisions.

[Related:How eCommerce companies should be buying inventory]

5. Return on Investment (ROI)

In order to make a solid business case for a new eCommerce WMS, you’ll need to know your figures inside out. Choosing the wrong WMS could cost your business a considerable amount more than it can save you in return. Look out for the hidden costs of seemingly cheaper warehouse management software such as integrations, customisation, updates, maintenance, IT resources, and fixed additional licenses. Make sure that you consider every possible expense before settling on a WMS, including how it can save you money in the long term.

6. Integrations

The right WMS for your eCommerce business should knit perfectly together with any other software that you are using. If you have a unique eCommerce platform, for instance, you will want to find a WMS with an open API that is well documented so that you can write an integration into it. This links back to the previous point about ROI because the less you have to spend on writing your own integrations the better, so finding a WMS that has a catalogue of existing off-the-shelf integrations is a good choice.

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