10 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Warehouse Management System
Selecting a warehouse management system can be a challenge. Your company likely has very specific warehousing needs, and it can be difficult to sort through sales pitches and complicated jargon to find the best solution for your business.
As experts in distribution, fulfillment, and warehousing, we wanted to give you the top 10 factors you should consider when choosing a warehouse management system.
- Location: Think about the locations of your suppliers and your customers. Where are most of your deliveries being made? Within a specific region? Nationwide? Internationally? Make sure your warehouse is in the optimal location that minimizes costs for you, your clients, and your customers.
- Access: Any warehouse that you are considering as a major distribution center should be easy for trucks to get to via main highways. If you import or export goods overseas, then you’ll need a warehouse that’s close to seaports. For example, Taylored Fulfillment Services’ locations are near major seaports on the west and east coasts.
- Client Profile: Ask to see a list of your warehouse provider’s clients. If their current clients are mostly smaller companies with straightforward warehousing requirements, then perhaps they can’t handle more sophisticated requirements of a larger company. On the other hand, if the warehouse provider handles a lot of well-known brands and you’re a mid-sized company, you want to make sure that a) you don’t pay for more than you need, and b) they’ll give you the same attention and customer service that they would the “big guys.”
- Storage Area: This is probably the most basic, but important question for any warehouse provider. Do they have the capacity you need? Beyond that, you want to ask if you’ll have access to more space as your business grows.
- Association Memberships: Are they active members of any well-known associations like the IWLA (International Warehouse Logistics Association)? If so, then that shows their commitment to learning, gaining resources for improvement, and demonstrating their value over time.
- Experience: You want your warehouse provider to have ample experience, like Taylored Fulfillment Services who’s proudly celebrating their 25th anniversary. Also, consider the kind of freight they are experienced with. Food distributors, for example, want to make sure that the warehouse meets food grade requirements. Electronic or apparel distributors will have a completely different set of requirements.
- Employees: Does it seem like they are well-staffed with knowledgeable employees? Ask if you will have a “go-to” account representative whose main responsibility will be to address your needs and concerns.
- Value-Added Services: Does the warehouse only handle basic storage and shipping services? Or are they able to offer packages that include value-added services like inspection, dispatch, inventory, reverse logistics, packaging, labeling, or reporting?
- Risk: Your warehouse vendor will obviously take on a lot of the risk associated with moving and storing your freight. However, you still want to ask them about incident rates, safety procedures, and damage plans. Also, ask to see copies of their insurance coverage. You want to be absolutely clear up front about what they will or will not assume responsibility for so there are no misunderstandings if damages do occur.
- Technology: Make sure that whoever you choose keeps up with the latest warehouse management technology. Do they rely mostly on manpower, or have they invested in modern robotics and conveyor belt systems to minimize human error? Ask if your computer systems and software integrate with theirs. Can they provide real-time reporting of inventory levels and other metrics?
It’s clear that choosing a warehouse requires very careful consideration. If you need additional guidance, speak to the experts at Taylored Fulfillment Services, a fully integrated third-party logistics provider specializing in wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer unit fulfillment. Established in 1992 and headquartered in Iselin, New Jersey, they operate 1.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space strategically located near the nation’s busiest ports, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York. Since its humble beginnings in 1992, Taylored Fulfillment Services has grown to become a national leader in distribution, fulfillment, and warehousing.