February 16th, 2024 | 3PL, eCommerce, Logistics, Order processing

Choosing the Right WMS

Choosing the correct WMS is a big decision with major consequences for your business. If you get it right it will help improve your growth and profitability, get it wrong it will hold your business back and you’ll probably be forced to go through the process again in a few years.



Defining your business requirements is obviously the first key step as it will enable you to compare different systems against your needs. However, it is equally important to consider your future needs.

If your needs are straightforward and unlikely to change, then an “entry-level, off-the-shelf” system may well be the best choice. Cross-referencing system features against your needs should enable you to find a solution that meets your requirements and budget.

If your needs are more complex and likely to change then the selection becomes more about choosing a vendor willing to work with you as a long-term partner. As your business grows your WMS will need to grow and evolve to continue to meet all of your requirements. This is only possible if the vendor is willing to spend time understanding the detail of your business.

In many sectors, change is driven by external factors. In the food sector providing a complete audit trail of product lot usage (batch usage) is becoming more and more important, both to comply with legislation and to meet customer expectations. The ability to extend your WMS to meet these new requirements can suddenly become business critical when a new opportunity presents itself.

Irrespective of the sector your business is in, if your warehouse and order processing plays a key role you need a system that can be configured to meet your needs and a vendor who is willing to understand your requirements and partner with you.

Here are some key areas you should consider:

  • Integrations with e-Commerce platforms

Integrations with the most common e-commerce platform are generally straightforward. However, if you require more complex integrations with these platforms or bespoke platforms, you will need more than “plug and play” functionality and will need the support from your vendor.

  • Integrations with couriers and haulage companies

Many businesses require the flexibility to use multiple carriers for different products to gain the best rates and services. The ability to integrate with multiple carriers and align your warehouse processes is really important. In many cases, you will need to be able to manage specific paperwork for both the carriers and your customers. A flexible solution and support from your vendor will often be required to achieve this.

  • Product expiry date management and lot tracking

In many markets, the ability to track lot references, expiry dates and use-by dates is critical to effectively manage stock. Many businesses will require lot tracking to provide a complete audit trail from receipts of goods to despatch of finished products to the customer. Your requirements are likely to be specific to your businesses’ processes and likely to change, so having a flexible solution that can be adapted to your current and future needs is invaluable.

  • Support for multiple sites

As businesses expand, the ability to effectively manage multiple sites becomes important. In these circumstances, the WMS needs the flexibility to manage the needs of multiple warehouses. In some cases, this could mean providing different processes to cater to the needs of individual sites, in others the WMS could be used to standardise processes and business rules across locations. Rules for multi-facility inventory and the splitting of customer orders need to reflect your commercial objectives.

  • Tailored processes to drive efficiencies

A system with standard functionality will bring some improvements in the short term but a system configured to your specific needs will ensure you can continue to make improvements and become more efficient in areas such as:

  • Product kitting and reworking driven from bills of materials
  • Cross docking and drop shipping to reduce double-handling
  • Slotting and picking strategies customised to your business
  • Inventory tracking and auditing strategies designed to meet your requirements.

Whichever sector your business is in, your WMS should play the key role in continually driving efficiencies in your order processing and warehousing.

  • Customised reporting

A comprehensive reporting system plays a key role in maximising the efficiency of your warehouse. The dashboards need to display the information you need to run your business effectively on an hour-to-hour. Management reports must enable you to identify trends, plan effectively and monitor results. The reports become far more powerful if they are customised to your business’s exact processes and can be refined when needed.

  • Support for automation

Automation is playing an increasingly important role in warehouse management and this is a trend that is set to continue. This includes robots, pick-to-light systems and automated sortation. It is therefore important that your WMS supplier has the capability to work with the new technology and integrate with third-party systems when required.

To get the maximum benefit from a WMS it needs to be tailored to your needs and processes, which is only possible if the vendor takes the time to understand how you want your warehouse to operate and evolve. Without that knowledge, a vendor can only provide an off-the-shelf solution which will become less and less effective as your needs change.

If you have outgrown your existing WMS or are struggling to get the support you need to ensure it meets your requirements get in touch with OrderFlow to see how we can help. With a team of experts boasting extensive experience, we are well-placed to help our clients grow. By really getting to understand our customer’s needs, we are able to offer customised solutions backed by exceptionally high levels of customer support.

Why not give us a call on 01249 750564 or drop an email to enquiries@orderflow-wms.co.uk to find out more?