An interview with Peoplevox - On choosing a WMS
In our Complete Guide to Choosing a Warehouse Management System (WMS), we covered the benefits, challenges, potential integrations and more to help you decide whether a WMS is the right solution for you.
But, that’s just the start of your fulfilment journey; the next step is finding the right provider.
This can be a daunting task when you’ve never used a WMS provider before. How do you know which system will work best for your company? How do you balance quality with value for money?
We’ve spoken to our partners at Peoplevox, an ecommerce WMS, about how to find the most effective provider - as well as some of the most common questions they get asked by new clients.
What are some initial scaling problems?
Many of Peoplevox’s clients come from a less experienced warehousing background, and may never have used a proper WMS before.
Companies like this, who are seeking a WMS provider, have likely outgrown their initial scale and need a more elaborate system to take care of their operation.
Zaeem Batavia, EMEA and APAC Sales Director for Peoplevox, explained some of the common mistakes businesses make at this stage.
Some companies take the approach of throwing people at the problems associated with increased growth, assuming more manpower will be able to plug any holes. This can actually lead to a less efficient operation, and reduce profit margins; it’s fine to hire more team members but the priority should be to organise and optimise.
Another common issue is messy data. As a company scales up, they outgrow entry level apps and spreadsheets for storing their data - and if they don’t solve that problem quickly, it’ll become overwhelming.
A WMS helps alleviate these issues. Peoplevox’s platform optimises staff workflows by directing them to specific locations with the fastest routes, boosting productivity without having to bring extra hands on board.
It also compiles order data into one easy-to-read dashboard, easing the burden of data storage while also allowing non-technical employees to draw conclusions and operate the tech.
What questions should companies ask?
Figuring out whether a WMS provider is right for you can be difficult when you’ve never dealt with one before.
One way of determining that is by asking the right questions during the consultancy phase and doing your research.
The first thing you should look into is whether a WMS specialises in a specific area. A company’s system might be designed with in-store retail in mind, so if you’re purely online, somewhere that specialises in ecommerce like Peoplevox would be more appropriate.
You should also find out what sort of support they offer. It’s all well and good having a well designed WMS, but you also want to know who the people are behind it and how they’re willing to help you. Peoplevox highlights that one of their USPs is that they treat every project and client like a partnership, with client success teams and diligent customer support to help them through the process.
By having a WMS partner with a combination of knowledge, technology and relationship skills, you can shortcut fulfilment challenges - so ask plenty of questions about their company.
What changes can be seen after implementation?
One thing that’s natural for people to want to know is how their operation will change once their WMS has been integrated, and how manageable it’ll be.
Peoplevox pointed out some of the major changes you’ll see. For example, you’ll have accurate inventory levels tracked in real-time; by using barcodes, batch, serial and lot numbers, materials will automatically be logged when scanned upon entry to a warehouse. Then, when they’re shipped out, they’re scanned again to update stock records.
There’s also the intuitive warehouse directions. Starter warehouses are unlikely to have a digital system which points staff to specific locations during the picking and packing process, instead relying on people knowing their aisles and the way the warehouse is sorted. With a WMS, pickers can check their devices to find where the items they need to pack are being stored and how to get there.
Plus, in peak periods, there’s less chance of errors. That’s because the software is easy to use and teach to new staff; so even if you’re receiving 100 orders a minute, as long as you’ve got the people, you won’t be overwhelmed.
Peoplevox specifically also offers a complete order history where every event is tracked in one place. That means no more clunky spreadsheets or clipboards to log an item’s journey; it’s all contained in your WMS, from when it was created, picked and shipped to details such as who fulfilled the order and at what time.
Overall, your warehouse will become faster and more efficient. You’ll only scale up from there.
What’s the importance of integrations?
Although a good WMS empowers companies, Peoplevox highlights that it doesn’t do so alone. Data integrations are extremely important for the day-to-day operation of a company, as they allow orders made through an ecommerce platform to flow into their WMS.
Without an integration, there’d be no transfer of data - and no way for those orders to reach the warehouse.
A WMS is only as good as the data it’s given, so make sure you give your integration partner some serious consideration.
Patchworks can help you with all of your WMS integration needs. In addition to round-the-clock client support and our portfolio of work, Patchworks doesn’t duplicate data from an ecommerce platform to give to your warehouse. That means data is directly transferred in a more efficient way, reducing time and inaccuracies.