Optimizing order fulfillment is a big initiative for many e-commerce and omnichannel businesses. Businesses that don’t utilize a warehouse and inventory management system experience more of the human errors that can lead to decreases in efficiency, high labor costs and unhappy customers.

There is a lot of information out there, and many solutions to choose from, which can leave sellers confused about what features actually matter most to their businesses. Here, we dive right into the top features any seller should be looking for when considering a warehouse management system (WMS).

1. A Software Platform That Partners With You

Key differences exist between just buying a software and choosing to partner with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. By choosing SaaS, you can receive hands-on training for you and your warehouse staff, with individualized attention to your specific needs. You gain the ability to pick up the phone and speak to a live person when an issue arises — a person who is able to take action and provide a solution.

Most importantly, a SaaS platform allows you to build integrations that fit your specific needs. A WMS that can completely take care of your inventory from purchase to shipment takes you out of the rote, day-to-day operational tasks and gives you the time to do what you need to be doing — growing your business.

2. Pick, Pack, Ship

Increased labor costs resulting from a disorganized warehouse can go unnoticed at worst, or unquantified at best. It can be hard to determine exactly how much a disorganized warehouse is actually costing you, but you do know it is costing you something.

Remove that worry by partnering with a WMS that automates the fulfilment process, allowing you to generate pick lists and includes features like hyper picking or wave picking, depending on your individual needs. The more streamlined this process is, the faster and more accurately you get orders out, which turns into higher levels of customer satisfaction.

3. Quality Control

Quality control is often your last line of defense to ensure order accuracy before shipping. If you don’t have this process automated, you can easily ship out an incorrect or damaged item.

Partnering with a software that has built-in safeguards against mispicks, misships and damaged item selection is your best bet to combat high labor costs as a result of human error.

One of the most important features to look for is the software’s ability to create purchase orders that can reduce potential errors by identifying problems with orders before they occur. This not only cuts down on your labor costs by reducing the amount of mispicks, but also lessens the inevitable costs associated with customer service issues.

4. Marketplace Data Syncs

Updating your marketplaces in real time, if done manually, can result in a lot of errors. And the more diversified your omnichannel offerings get, the greater the likelihood of making an error becomes.

Choosing a WMS that offers real-time data syncs not only takes the tedious work away from your warehouse workers and managers, but also reduces the risk of out-of-stock inventory and lowers your chances of bad seller reviews.

5. Reporting & Visibility

Visibility is key to tidiness. If you’re a fan of Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, you’ll know how important it is to know the location of everything — and be able to see it all.

The same rules apply to warehouse organization; if you don’t know where items are in the warehouse, you’re going to have a hard time picking and shipping them efficiently. Over time, this clutter can snowball into an out-of-control situation and the costs associated with dealing with this can skyrocket.

With reporting, if you rely on your memory to know what your top-selling items are, you’re inevitably going to miss out on valuable sales opportunity and revenue. Choose a software that offers forecasting so you can stay ahead of trends and make sure you have the right inventory in stock at the right time.

When choosing a WMS, it’s always important to start by considering what matters most to your business and your customers. Success lies in balancing those priorities with the features your warehouse staff needs to operate efficiently.

Blog post by Sam Smock, marketing manager at SkuVault.