Often when we approach the subject of warehouse management systems (WMS) it’s from the viewpoint of improving warehouse operations, efficiencies, and the business. A WMS can make warehousing and inventory management accurate, how the technology can automate workflows, and help businesses move away from manual, inaccurate, or time-consuming processes.
These are all great aspirational achievements when it comes to implementing a WMS. But we don’t often discuss how a WMS can help an organization with a core goal: delighting customers.
Customers in today’s modern and technological landscape expect newer and different ways of interacting with the companies they do business with. They expect what could almost be termed as a curated or personalized experience. This can be in the form of special offers, anticipating a need, or attention to service. But how can a WMS, which is after all a logistical application, be applied as part of creating a better customer experience?
First and foremost a WMS provides real-time accuracy for your business. But this can also be applied to your customers. No customer likes to be told after having placed and confirmed an order that the item they were hoping to receive is out of stock or delayed. It’s at the very least disappointing and at worst a forever lost customer. Fortunately, this is where a WMS, especially one built for the cloud, can fill the information gap. A cloud WMS provides real-time inventory levels for all items within your distribution center. This type of real-time data is of course helpful for your staff in managing orders but can equally be shared with your customers either through your ecommerce store or customer portal. As inventory is depleted or replenished, these figures update automatically and are thus accurately communicated to your customers. By accurately keeping track of your inventory with a WMS you can improve your customer experience by keeping them up to date as well.
Customers of course expect to be kept up to date with their orders. Long gone are the days when delivery by mail was three to seven day guesstimates. Customers want to know when their orders have been processed, where they are in their journey, if there are delays, and near time delivery ETA’s. Fortunately for businesses a WMS can be part of transmitting this information directly to the customer. From order receipt to the fulfillment stage, shipment out of the warehouse, and carrier information, all of this can be gathered by your WMS and transmitted directly to the customer. This is especially true in cases where your WMS and CRM are integrated or else on the very same platform. By having a WMS you can now create an information infrastructure whereby your customer is well informed of their orders. By doing so you create both an experience that adds value to your customer service and builds trust.
As discussed, the ability to have real-time product inventory to share with your customers is crucial. Yet never having to worry if certain items are out of stock for your customers in the first place is even better. A WMS can play a huge role in ensuring this. As a business your procurement and sourcing teams know exactly what their lead times and delays are for the products that you either distribute, manage, or manufacture. By accounting for these variables as well as inventory sell through, you can calculate minimum inventory thresholds for all your products and input them into your WMS. Once these thresholds are reached, they can be automatically flagged and then replenished in a timely fashion. By never running short of inventory you become reliable in the eyes of your customers.
One of the biggest assets that a business has is its data. Data is collected from all sorts of points and a WMS is a great source of data that can be put to great use by your company. Because a WMS touches most, if not all points of your order fulfillment and supply chain workflows, it is a great collector of actionable data that can be reported on and put to good use. Simple things like best-selling products, high order periods, items with high or low logistical costs, ease of fulfillment, item trends, and much more can all be gathered from your WMS. These types of data points can then give your business insights on what items to push and when. Or perhaps find efficiencies whereby you can pass savings onto your customers. Whatever the case may be, your warehouse data can tell you a lot about how you can better run your business, which in turn will help you to serve your customers better.
When it comes to fulfilling your customer orders, your WMS is like the engine that keeps everything moving smoothly. It receives the order, communicates real-time product inventory, fulfills the order, transmits progress and shipping details, creates a trustworthy relationship with your customers, helps to plan for your customer needs, and much more. Furthermore, by integrating your WMS with your CRM, your business will be able to curate and communicate product offerings that best suit your clientele. In these ways, your WMS becomes part of a holistic approach to service that will delight your customers.
Ready to delight your customers with data? Check out Akatia’s WAM warehouse management system on AppExchange to get started today!
About the author: Thomas Robinson is the Brand & Marketing Manager at Akatia Technologies. In his role, he helps communicate the importance of digital transformation. He helps businesses in their journey by creating engaging and thought-leading content.
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