Warehouse Management


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What you need to know about warehouse management



Succeeding in a Challenging Distribution Environment

Simply put, it’s not always easy to achieve highly effective distribution operations in today’s fast-paced environment. Customer expectations are exceptionally high in the era of the “Amazon effect,” when fulfillment cycles and delivery times must be continually compressed. This is because consumer expectations for expedited delivery have become the norm on the B2B side as well, placing untold pressures on global supply chains.

Exceptional warehouse management is the key to growth and long-term success. This is possible through the right approach to technology, which includes any necessary material handling equipment as well as a proven, feature-rich warehouse management system (WMS). Only with effective systems underpinning your operations can you process the growing volumes of orders, manage inventory, and ensure your associates carry out each step of their directed tasks properly every minute of the day. Accuracy and reliability are essential. There isn’t any room for error if you want to stay competitive.

In today’s warehouse operations, we see more business volumes, more goods to move to multiple channels, under tighter cycle times. Combined with labor shortages and stringent regulatory requirements, the pressure on executives is greater than ever! As a result, they have no alternative but to make a technology change to a robust but flexible WMS to keep up with their changing business requirements. Given their business conditions, they need to do it at low-risk and low-cost, in other words, get top WMS value at a low total cost of ownership.– Michael Mikitka, CEO of WERC (Warehousing Education Research Council)

Why Are Companies Upgrading Their Warehouse Management Systems?

You may hear about warehouse management system upgrade projects and wonder when the right time is to move your existing WMS to the latest version. If you’re running a traditional system, the time may be right for you to explore the more modern options now available for your operations.
Below are some common reasons a business will upgrade. These are often determined by developing a business case that fully explores all aspects of the business and future expectations from customers.

– They determine the cost of staying on their current system is higher than it would be to move to a new system.
– They have outgrown the old system or cannot expand due to restrictions with the old system.
– They recognize that investing in technology will allow them to be more competitive and innovative in their marketplace.
– They cannot effectively serve existing customers or win new business with the old system.

The Pivotal Role of the Warehouse Management System

Your WMS plays a crucial role in enabling 100% fulfillment for your business to keep pace with growing customer requirements. It provides the technology backbone of your distribution infrastructure and enables your employees to complete daily activities spanning receiving, put-away, inventory management, picking, packing, and shipping—and much, much more. Anything less than a robust WMS will hinder your ability to grow and serve customers effectively.

Unfortunately, many decision-makers delay the move to a best-of-breed warehouse management system because of the perceived disruption these projects can cause. A feature-rich WMS can certainly involve an extensive amount of work to develop processes, configure the software, integrate with your enterprise systems, prepare the IT infrastructure, and execute testing plans. However, delaying the move to the right technology in turn can postpone responding to customers’ needs, revenue-generating growth, and the competitiveness of your business in the market. Some companies have elected to implement “WMS light” options designed with a reduced feature set. However, these typically don’t allow for the type of growth and the associated complexity in distribution requirements these companies may ultimately require.


What is a Modern Warehouse Management System

Given the complexities of distribution today, there are several elements important to consider in the technology you select for your business. Zeroing in on the right warehouse management system is a career-defining decision, and one that takes a thorough approach to evaluating your challenges, requirements, and the range of options available. As you seek to develop a full understanding of your challenges, requirements, budgetary constraints, and expectations, consider these key areas below in your decision-making process.

It’s essential to implement a warehouse management system that is flexible, scalable, and easily configured to your specific needs. This is because the business environment is always changing along with the unique asks of your customers, and you need to be able to adjust to these changes, however unpredictable. Your customers are fickle, and it’s up to you to do whatever is within your power to retain them to protect your bottom line and your reputation for service. This means relying on a solution that enables you to extend or personalize the functionality in the warehouse to a very specific requirement without the need for expensive custom modifications that have to be reapplied during an upgrade.
The Right Functionality
A top-notch system will have core warehouse features that go beyond the standard options such as receiving, put-away, counting, letdown, and picking. While these remain important capabilities, functionality that enables you to meet industry-specific requirements such as value-added services; full lot, serial, and expiration track/trace; and many more that will enter the picture as appropriate.
User Experience
With everyone accustomed to the ease of today’s consumer mobile devices, the expectations for how to interact with software and hardware have changed. Solutions must be easy to adopt with minimal training and feature highly intuitive interfaces. They should display easily understood, step-by-step instructions that provide visual cues to ensure accuracy and compliance. Particularly if temporary or seasonal workers are important for your business, technology that helps new hires get up and running quickly is a must.
Flexible Deployment Options
Many companies are making increasing use of cloud deployments, while others prefer on-premise deployments or even hosted solutions. Ensure flexibility with a solution that can be deployed in whatever model makes the most sense for your IT/MIS team and the way you operate today and change over time as your needs shift.


What to Look for in a ‘Modern’ Warehouse Management System

A modern warehouse management system will support your business as it grows and changes into the future. You’ll want to find a system that offers low overall risk. This means you can get up and running quickly on the system via a rapid implementation model and can make software changes over time to meet new challenges. This adaptability is a critical factor in molding the system to your specific customer or industry requirements where appropriate.

Finding a system that is ‘future proof’ is also important. Not only do you need core functionality to be in place today, but you also need to be able to stay on the upgrade path down the road as new enhancements are released and you want your warehouse management system to keep pace.

Ways a Modern Warehouse Management System Helps Reduce Costs

It Automates Manual Processes

For those running manual processes or even paper pick lists, think about all the labor-intensive tasks that happen every day in your warehouse. From receiving and put-away to inventory management to picking, packing, and shipping, there are many ways you can leverage automation to forego routine processes and save costs. Especially if you have older technology in place, you’re likely giving up the chance to automate tasks and improve overall throughput.

Find every opportunity you can to automate repeatable and time-intensive activities, especially those prone to error. Maybe an electronic pick list is a good place to start. Your WMS vendor or consultant can work with you to assess your operations and determine where the low-hanging fruit resides when it comes to what to automate first. Your associates will also be a good source of ideas. Don’t forget to evaluate material handling equipment (MHE) that can integrate with your warehouse management system to speed operations. Conveyors, pick-to-light systems, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), and more not only help your associates complete assignments faster, but they can also improve safety and take the physical burden out of some of the steps.

It Recognizes What Today’s Labor Force Needs

Finding and retaining a solid workforce is a growing challenge for many companies. Today’s workers are used to the simplicity of consumer technologies and expect to have similar capabilities when they step into the warehouse. Because of this, the right warehouse management system will make a world of difference to your ability to hire, train, and retain staff. An intuitive WMS plays a large role in how your team goes about completing assignments every hour of the day. If your system is easier to work with and simplifies the process of completing tasks accurately, employee satisfaction and morale will improve. Likewise, a well-thought-out solution speeds training time for new employees.

If you’re able to introduce automation as mentioned above, you may find you can carry out the same tasks with fewer associates. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to let workers go. It’s feasible to offer additional training to some associates and redeploy them to other areas where performance may be an issue. You can also use newfound employee bandwidth to implement offerings such as personalized, value-added services that delight your customers.

It Optimizes Inventory Management

Distributors must achieve a fine balance between not having the right amount of product on hand, tying up cash, and wasting money on excess inventory that gathers dust but is readily available for unexpected last-minute shipments. Having too much inventory, not having enough, or lacking the right kind of inventory all create financial stress and customer service challenges for your organization.

The first requirement to improving inventory management and lowering your holding costs is having visibility into what’s on the shelves and the rate at which it is depleted and replenished. This is possible with a warehouse management system in concert with an inventory management system that tracks the ins and outs as well as prompts cycle counting and reconciliation. The ability to forecast demand is also an important step as you work to implement an optimum level of inventory to carry, improving your ability to lower inventory holding costs over time. Finally, determine if you have an issue with security such as product theft. If so, take steps to curtail it via foolproof picking processes, security cameras, and an anonymous employee tip line.

It Enables You to Implement Best Practices
Although supply chain experts have been developing best practices for decades, recent changes in distribution models, technology, and customer expectations have led to new insights into the best ways to run your distribution operations. Make sure you do your homework to learn the latest best practices regarding facility layout, the best ways to leverage technology, and how to manage your workforce in pursuit of meeting customer requirements and keeping costs in check. When researching your warehouse management system options, select a vendor who can demonstrate a deep understanding of supply chain best practices to ensure they can help you introduce the efficiency you need to your distribution operation.
It Helps You Measure Your Performance

Best-in-class distribution operations of any size rely on accurate metrics and analytics for informed decision-making. From labor productivity to fulfillment speed and shipping accuracy, intuitive WMS dashboards will help you get a handle on which areas aren’t running efficiently, where cost spikes point to underlying issues, and more. What you seek is information that can help you take action, enabling ongoing improvement and cost reduction across many areas. This may include dropping a product line that isn’t performing well, reallocating staff to address performance issues, or identifying expiring products and waste.

Comparing Traditional and Modern Warehouse Management Systems



Large ‘brick on a stick’ mobile terminals with physical buttons


Familiar smartphone or tablet devices running Android or iOS



Long and complex implementations, formal training sessions run by the vendor


Low risk and rapid to adopt, uses familiar technology which improves user experiences with user-driven training and configuration



Any changes to the standard process require custom coding that makes upgrades expensive and difficult


Features and workflows can be adapted using scripts, configurations, and workflow management tools by super users who are semi-technical and do not require developers



Limited by the hardware and network locally available, once set is generally fixed


Totally elastic solution for any size implementation; can flex along with seasonality requirements throughout the year as needed



Traditional feature set: receive, put-away, letdown, count, and pick


Industry or process specific features that are configurable by the role of the user



There isn’t one


The supply chain platform creates a common, stable and personalizable environment that allows user-centric change to the look and feel of the system without affecting the underlying solution. It also provides an integration layer to simply and rapidly connect warehouse automation and external systems thereby providing open connectivity both in and out of the warehouse.

Deployment approach


Installed on premise in local servers, supported by company MIS


Often cloud-based but can be deployed locally, support can be local or remote



Warehouse to ERP integration is developed with the implementation project and remains fixed


Using modern integration technologies, the system is open and has published common APIs that can be connected to a wide range of solutions and appliances

Success Stories


Aetrex is widely recognized as the global leader in comfort and wellness footwear. Originally known for the landmark development of arch supports and medically oriented footcare products, Aetrex has come a long way to become one of the leading footwear companies in the U.S. and around the world. To meet its goal of becoming a major brand in footwear, fast-growing Aetrex needed a strong supply chain infrastructure to support its go-to-market strategy and provide its management and customer service staff with the right information to better serve clients and distributors.

Aetrex selected Tecsys’ warehouse, distribution management, and EDI applications to support its goals. The company chose Tecsys due to its unparalleled customer care and responsiveness as well as the strength of its applications. Since implementing Tecsys’ solutions, Aetrex has grown at an aggressive rate and achieved its strategic sales and customer service goals. The results speak for themselves: Aetrex has increased volume by 80% without additional staff, increased inventory accuracy by 70%, and reduced cost by 24%.

Read Success Story

At the end of the day, with Tecsys we are now miles ahead in our execution abilities and management of our supply chain.– John Mattessich, Director of Distribution

LifeScience Logistics

LifeScience Logistics (LSL) is a third-party logistics services provider in the healthcare industry. The company provides a full range of standard and specialized logistics services scalable to the changing needs of its customers. LSL faced the challenge of providing domestic and global healthcare manufacturers with unique, regulatory-compliant distribution facilities and processes. They chose Tecsys’ healthcare SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model, and the results have been impressive.

LSL has achieved substantial automation with Tecsys’ supply chain management solutions, such as scalable perpetual inventory, significant improvement in labor management with system-directed put-away and picking, as well as unprecedented real-time visibility. The company has also realized the following benefits: 99% fill rates and 99.97% inventory accuracy, with the right products delivered at the right price without sacrificing quality.

Read Success Story

We have a reliable IT infrastructure that can be tapped anytime, from anywhere, securely…it is like “Googling” into a supply chain network of applications, giving us and our customers peace of mind and visibility of what is happening…– Richard Beeny, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

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Supply Chain Brief