How to Choose the Right Warehouse Management System

Allison Champion
5 min read
May 8, 2020
Modified: March 20, 2023

It doesn’t matter if you’re a thirty year veteran of the industry or new to managing a warehouse, you need a warehouse management system (WMS) to keep your facility operating at peak efficiency and performance. 

In this article you’ll learn how to choose the right warehouse management system for your warehouse and, most importantly, how to convince your boss that you need a new one.

What Does a Warehouse Management System Do?

If you’re going to convince your boss to invest in a shiny new warehouse management system, you need to know what a WMS is, what a WMS does, and all the ways your company (as a whole) will benefit from the new system. 

In short, a Warehouse Management System, or WMS is a software application that helps manage and control the day-to-day operations of a warehouse. There are many different types of warehouse management systems but all generally include functionality that supports:

  • Receiving
  • Inventory Management
  • Shipping
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Transportation Management

As the warehouse manager, it’s up to you to determine which functionalities will best support your warehouse operation and, most importantly, provide the greatest return on your investment. 

Five Questions to Ask Before Shopping for a New WMS

To do that, you first need to identify your company’s needs, goals, and processes that need improvement. Start by answering these questions:

  1. How do Inefficiencies Negatively Impact the Company?

Before you can choose a WMS to improve your warehouse operation you need to know where your warehouse operation can be improved. Look for inefficiencies in your building and in your supply chain where employees are forced to take extra steps to complete a task. Sometimes it’s the smallest inefficiencies that have the greatest impact on warehouse productivity. 

  1. What Functionality Do You Need to Accurately Pick, Pack, and Ship Orders?

To choose the right WMS for your warehouse and your company you need to determine which functionality you need to accurately pick, pack and ship orders, but also which functionality you don’t need. 

  1. How Can You Integrate Your Current System With Your E-Commerce Initiatives?

E-commerce is no longer new or surprising but few of the long-established warehouses were prepared for the forced evolution that it brought to the industry. One way to bring your operation up to speed is to integrate your warehouse with your e-commerce initiatives.

Ask yourself how well your current system fulfills the needs of your e-commerce customers. Any gaps you identify in your e-commerce supply chain should be filled by the functionality of your new WMS. 

  1. What Data Do You Need To Make Strategic Decisions?

You can’t make smart decisions without data. A new WMS can enable your warehouse with better insight and more reliable data, but you need to do more than simply add new technology to your current processes. You have to understand the problems you expect the new system to solve and the visibility you want it to provide. 

  1. How Can You Maximize The Potential Of Your Warehouse?

Ultimately, the most important question you can ask yourself before choosing a WMS is “how can I maximize the potential of my warehouse to provide the greatest ROI?” The answer to this question in particular will not only narrow down your list of potential WMS candidates, it will provide you with a blueprint for convincing your boss to invest in the WMS of your choosing. 

How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in a New WMS

Now that you know how and where a WMS will improve your warehouse operation, it’s time to convince your boss to invest in the one that is best for the company. If you are lucky they will carefully consider your evaluation and select the system that you recommend – though it’s more likely that they will choose the system that provides the greatest “bang for their buck.” 

To get the functionality you need, you need to convince your boss that the WMS you choose is worthy of your investment. 

  1. Quantify Your Pain

Your role may be managing the warehouse, but your boss’s role is managing the warehouse as a part of the company as a whole, primarily how the warehouse affects the company’s bottom line. 

To sell them on your WMS you need to quantify your pain, Don’t say “this will save a lot of time,” illustrate exactly how much time you and your team spend on certain processes, then provide them with qualitative data that supports your claim.

  1. Qualify the Investment

An appropriate warehouse management system can cost tens of thousands of dollars but the cost of your current operation may be much greater. You know what costs tens of thousands of dollars? Labor. Returns. Lost Shipments. Angry Customers.

The right WMS software can save a company hundreds of thousands in labor costs alone, not to mention the recurring costs of returns, damages and missed shipments. Don’t forget to use qualitative figures to make your case. 

  1. Show the Human Cost

The human cost of not having the right WMS in place can be measured in wasted capital. The best systems can reduce the need for overtime, contract workers, and the cost of leave when workers burn out. 

Not to mention the human cost of falling behind due to manual processes and data verification – choosing the right WMS solution can save on human resources and reduce frustration across the entire organization.

  1. Pre-pitch Your Proposal

It’s always a good idea to pre-pitch your WMS proposal to the financial department before bringing it to your boss. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough money in the bank to afford the WMS you want.

By pre-pitching your proposal to the financial department you can eliminate the systems that are obviously too expensive and narrow your search to systems that provide the right combination of value and functionality. 

Free WMS by Flowspace: The Only System You Need. 

Running a warehouse is a challenge. Flowspace cloud WMS software is the only WMS truly designed to make it easier. Contact Flowspace today for a demo. We’ll discuss your needs and show you firsthand how integrating with the Flowspace WMS can increase revenue

Written By:

flowspace author Allison Champion

Allison Champion

Allison Champion leads marketing communication at Flowspace, where she works to develop content that addresses the unique challenges facing modern brands in omnichannel eCommerce. She has more than a decade of experience in content development and marketing.

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