While modern organizations are certainly responsible for coordinating their internal shipping and fulfillment operations, few execute in isolation. Firms functioning in the era of Industry 4.0 must work with their customers to facilitate efficient, productive and scalable warehousing services. This necessitates considerable collaboration. Warehouse management technology normally acts as the hub for shipper-receiver interaction, supporting automated processes that promote optimal collaboration and leave both parties satisfied. An estimated one-quarter of enterprises spent $1 million or more on cutting-edge warehousing technology in 2016 in an effort to achieve this operational harmony, according to data from Peerless Research Group published in Supply Chain Management Review.
However, not all WMS solutions are created equal, meaning the quality of customer-collaboration features can vary wildly. Businesses intending to implement this technology must work diligently to pinpoint WMS solutions that offer customer-friendly components that support integrated workflows. Here are some of the key platform qualities organizations should focus on when conducting their WMS software searches:
Organizations often consider WMS connectivity an internal concern – something that mostly affects the shipping and fulfillment teams working within warehouses. This is, of course, an accurate reflection of reality, considering the state of warehousing technology. Companies are investing heavily in operational devices that require reliable connectivity, most notably tablets, scanners and other assets associated with the internet of things, according to data from Grand View Research. However, internet connectivity also carries implications for customers.
Corporations utilizing shipping services that cannot reliably connect to their vendors' WMS systems can encounter operational trouble, as data visibility diminishes drastically and they are essentially left in the dark. Additionally, stalled or slow internet connectivity negatively affects data flow, meaning customers may have to wait longer than expected for shipping updates, a seemingly small setback that can have major consequences.
"Users tend to abandon or avoid solutions that are difficult to handle, no matter their throughput capabilities."
User interface design
Most businesses on the path toward WMS adoption focus on backend computational power and search for solutions that can process huge amounts of data with immense speed. This methodology makes perfect sense, of course. Both shipping companies and customers want software that is technically sound and capable. However, in this quest to acquire all-powerful WMS technology, many firms miss out on an equally important feature: the user interface. Users tend to abandon or avoid solutions that are difficult to handle, no matter their throughput capabilities.
Firms adopting new WMS technology with the intent of bolstering collaboration with customers must keep this in mind and seek out systems that are inherently user-friendly. In most cases, platforms that fall into the category lean heavily on data visualization components and include intuitive navigation features that support trouble-free inter-system movement, Inbound Logistics reported.
Even the most seasoned software users require assistance from time to time, including WMS specialists tasked with managing shared backend solutions with shipping and receiving service providers. Should these individuals not be able to obtain help, operational stoppages may materialize, leading to lost revenue.
Warehousing operations can avoid this sort of disastrous outcome by implementing WMS solutions that come equipped with significant support, according to Supply Chain Digital. When issues arise, customers should be able to access documentation or get help from human service representatives who can offer clarification or actionable technical guidance.
Enterprises looking to better collaborate with their customers in an effort to achieve stronger results should consider connecting with F&A Data Systems. We work with world-class technology partners such as Dell, Microsoft, Oracle and Rockwell Automation to design and deploy customized warehouse management solutions that not only support automated shipping and fulfillment processed, but also come equipped with top-of-the-line customer-facing features. Contact us to learn more about how we can transform the warehousing operations at your business.