Essent Webinars: Warehouse Management Systems Optimize Inventory and Fulfillment

A Warehouse Management System allows a business to take control of inventory and fulfillment with tools for product information management, inventory accuracy, inventory replenishment, inventory valuation, fulfillment picking, fulfillment packing, and fulfillment shipping.


Watch the Warehouse Management System Webinar



Slide 1: Make the Most of Your Warehouse
Hello and welcome to the latest webinar from Essent. Today we’re going to show you a how a Warehouse Management System helps optimize inventory and fulfillment to boost efficiency and add value to a business.

Slide 2: Moderator: Douglas B. Brill
My name is Doug Brill. I’m the Essent marketing coordinator and I specialize in the promotional products industry. I’m also your moderator today.

Slide 3: About Essent
Before we begin, a very brief overview of Essent. Essent is the leader in providing Comprehensive business management solutions since 1981 Essent has been serving Distributors, Decorators, and Suppliers in the promotional products industry since the year 2000 $3 Billion in Commerce flows through Essent’s solutions each year

Slide 4: If You Have Questions
We expect you may have some questions, but in an effort to keep the webinar concise for everyone we can only answer them off line. Feel free to use the webinar control panel to submit questions, and we’ll be happy to answer them for you after the webinar has ended.

Slide 5: What Happens After the Sale?
Many businesses think of themselves as sales-driven. But what happens after the sale? There is a whole range of critical operations between the point of a sale and final delivery. These operations occur in the warehouse, and they represent a sizable opportunity for any business.

Slide 6: The Opportunity in the Warehouse
That’s because optimizing inventory and fulfillment makes every order more valuable. Every order needs to be fulfilled. So limiting the time and costs of fulfillment reduces the cost of the order, making it more profitable. Optimizing inventory and fulfillment also means the business can also sell more, because it can process more orders in less time. The accuracy of information in the WMS will reduce the mistakes that are so costly to go back and fix. And efficient picking, packing, and shipping will lead to increased customer satisfaction. Customers receiving accurate, hassle-free orders, in a timely fashion are more likely to come back for more.

Slide 7: The Opportunity in the Warehouse
Let’s just take a moment to highlight the value that warehouse management creates. Third-party fulfillment providers like fulfillment houses and fulfillment centers take control of the warehouse and run it with tremendous efficiency. They’re not necessarily selling products. They’re selling the service of an efficient warehouse. The ecommerce giants that we’ve all become familiar with are another great example. When you think about it, their sales operation is minimal: they list items on a website. Almost the entire value proposition is to pick, pack, and ship more efficiently than anyone else can. And there are multibillion dollar ecommerce businesses built largely on inventory and fulfillment efficiency.

Slide 8: Inventory and Fulfillment: A Business Model in Itself
So this goes to underscore the immense value in Warehouse Management efficiency. It’s such a value-add that it can be the crux of a multibillion dollar business all on its own.

Slide 9: Presenter: William Austin
Here to bring you a closer look is your presenter, Will Austin. Will is a business analyst for Essent. And he’s also a specialist in the promotional products industry. He’s going to tell you more about how a Warehouse Management System optimizes inventory and fulfillment to make every order more valuable.

Slide 10: Warehouse Information Management
Warehouse Management isn’t just a matter of storing and moving products. It’s a matter of information management.

Slide 11: Warehouse Information
Every warehouse full of products is full of even more information. Every product has hundreds of data points attached to it. And this information ultimately is what drives warehouse operations. There is information about the product itself, such as category, subcategory, SKU, supplier, manufacturer, lot numbers, serial numbers. There is information about inventory, stocking and replenishment. This would include such as inventory counts, reorder points, reorder quantities, required quantities, and backorders. Then there’s fulfillment information. This includes such as location, pick lists, wave-picking lists, weight, dimensions, and everything else needed to pick, pack, and ship.

Slide 12: Warehouse Information
Then there is financial information like costing and pricing. There are business documents associated with products, like purchase orders, sales orders, advanced ship notices, and order statuses. And perhaps most importantly there is workflow information that defines just how the warehouse is going to perform inventory and fulfillment.

Slide 13: Automated Warehouse
A Warehouse Management System is the solution for storing and processing that sheer volume of information. Reams of data that would take hours to manually enter can be entered instantaneously. One way to do it is receiving against purchase orders. The purchase order already exists electronically in the Warehouse Management System. So once it’s confirmed that the contents of the PO have been received, the purchase order information flows into the Warehouse Management System and update the inventory. That information is entered automatically and in real-time, so inventory information remains accurate and up-to-date at all times. And all of that information is now in one central electronic repository. So it’s easy to find the information just by using the search tools that the Warehouse Management System provides.

Slide 14: No matter how big the warehouse, a WMS handles the information.
No matter how big the warehouse, a WMS efficiently provides businesses and customers critical information when it’s needed.

Slide 15: Inventory Management
When we’re talking inventory, we’re also talking about cash flow. So it’s important to have accurate inventory information at all times. Too much inventory means that there is potentially too much cash tied up in inventory. And that’s going to leave less cash to operate. If there is too little inventory, on the other hand, then the items needed to fulfill and generate cash flow might not immediately be on hand. When you start to think of inventory as cash flow, the importance of inventory accuracy becomes apparent.

Slide 16: Inventory Accuracy
Barcoding is an extremely useful tool for inventory accuracy because it transmits inventory information instantaneously and accurately.

Slide 17: Inventory Accuracy
Barcoding is one of the major tools that a Warehouse Management System can provide to keep inventory counts nearly 100% accurate. With Barcode-Verified Fulfillment, a warehouse worker simply scans an item or group of items upon fulfillment. Scanning barcodes on those items automatically communicates the inventory changes to the WMS and updates the count. The Warehouse Management System also supports and helps managing inventory audits. This can be a traditional, physical inventory audit. Or it could be cycle counting, which involves auditing portions only of inventory in certain locations so that there is less disruption to daily operations

Slide 18: >99% Inventory Accuracy
With barcode-verified fulfillment and inventory auditing tools, a Warehouse Management System can help achieve inventory with greater than 99% accuracy.

Slide 19: Inventory Replenishment
Keeping inventory counts accurate is a major consideration. And the next consideration is keeping inventory counts optimal – in other words, keeping stock at the levels the business wants. This is where inventory replenishment comes in.

Slide 20: Inventory Replenishment
A Warehouse Management System is equipped with tools to manage replenishment and keep stock levels optimal. It starts with the business setting its rules for Minimum Reorder Points and Reorder Quantities. When inventory counts fall below these thresholds, the warehouse management system displays what needs to be re-ordered and how much. The Warehouse Management System also automatically calculates required inventory, which is a powerful tool for defining rules for safety stock, Material Resources Planning, or required stock in general. For the situations when a business does run low on stock, a Warehouse Management System also has backorder management tools. For businesses with multiple warehouses, these rules can be set up on a per warehouse basis so that every warehouse keep stock levels optimal.

Slide 21: Know what’s needed when it’s needed
The Warehouse Management System lets a business know what items are needed when they’re needed.

Slide 22: Inventory Valuation
A business needs to know the value of its inventory at any given time, whether it's company-owned inventory or customer-owned inventory.

Slide 23: Inventory Valuation
The inventory valuation affects significant financial and compliance considerations. For example, the value of the inventory affects tax deductions, capital, assets, and equity. The inventory is part of the value of the business. So it’s important to know the value of the inventory. Inventory valuation also affects cash flow. Without accurate inventory valuation, it would be easy to overstock and constrain cash flow. Since the value of inventory is equity, inaccurate inventory could affect the ability to borrow. Inventory valuation also has insurance implications. In order to have appropriate insurance coverage, the business needs to know the value of its inventory. This is equally important whether the business owns the inventory or is holding it on consignment.

Slide 24: Inventory Valuation
A Warehouse Management System has tools to manage inventory valuation so that accounting, cash flow, and insurance considerations are met. Perhaps the most critical piece is inventory accuracy, which we previously discussed. Knowing what’s on hand is the first step to knowing the value of what’s on hand. Meanwhile, cost analysis tools track average cost, standard cost, and actual cost for each product or group of products. This provides a clear picture of the cost to acquire items. On the pricing side, the system can offer both default and custom pricing models. This gives businesses almost unlimited flexibility in creating special pricing for certain customers, without having to define pricing for each and every customer.

Slide 25: Know the value of what’s in stock
Warehouse Management Systems provide the complete, accurate picture of inventory valuation so a business always knows the value of what's in stock.

Slide 26: Inventory You Can Count On
The bottom-line is Warehouse Management Systems manage inventory and you want inventory that you count on. • We looked at inventory accuracy, where barcode-verified fulfillment and inventory auditing tools keep inventory accuracy at greater than 99%. • We looked at inventory replenishment, where minimum re-order points, required inventory, and backorder management keep inventory levels optimal. • And we looked at inventory valuation, where accurate inventory combined with pricing and costing models for accurate, up-to-date inventory values.

Slide 27: Fulfillment Management
Just as important as inventory is fulfillment, and a Warehouse Management System has the tools to handle that as well. Between the sale and final product delivery, there’s a critical range of operations that move the product from its current location to the buyer. Collectively those operations are fulfillment – your pick, pack, and ship operations. The business that can pick, pack, and ship efficiently keeps order costs down, which drives order profitability up. It also enables businesses to process more orders in less time.

Slide 28: Fulfillment: Picking
When a sales order arrives, the fulfillment process begins. And the fulfillment process starts with picking.

Slide 29: Fulfillment: Picking
Efficient picking is a matter of physically gathering items in the minimum amount of time. The first step is knowing where to find the item. It sounds basic, but in a warehouse with hundreds or thousands of products, finding the item is no small task. A stock locator in a Warehouse Management System can track zone, row, shelf, and bin to help find items as quickly as possible. A Warehouse management system can also automatically generate pick lists. Sales Orders will define the items that need to be gathered. And the business can set Order Picking Priority rules to say which items should be picked in which order. Order Picking Priority aligns picking with other deadlines, workflows, and logistics such as production time, back order status, preferred customers, freight carrier arrivals, in-hands dates, and other criteria defined by the business. So picking is optimized for real-world deadlines and logistics. Integration with the Business Management System makes the Warehouse Management System even more powerful. The submission of a sales order can be automatically communicated to the WMS, which in turn generates pick lists.

Slide 30: Picking: What, where, when, and in what order
A Warehouse Management System helps define a picking workflow that aligns with other workflows and logistics.

Slide 31: Fulfillment: Packing
Once picking operations are performed as efficiently as possible and any necessary production is performed, the next step in fulfillment is packing the order.

Slide 32: Fulfillment: Packing
A Warehouse Management System with rule-based fulfillment assists in creating efficient packing workflows. The business can set rules based on order classes, customers, in-hands dates, and other criteria. These are rules to ensure that packing is performed in the correct order and as efficiently as possible to satisfy customers. The Warehouse Management System then can generate workflows based on these rules. For example, it can give packing priority to preferred customers. Or dictate that rush orders are packed first. Packing is more than placing a single item in a single box. So a Warehouse Management system needs the flexibility to handle variations that arise, such as kitting and bundling, bill of materials, and partial shipments.

Slide 33: Packing efficiency according to the rules
For several variations of packing, a Warehouse Management System helps ensure packing is performed as efficiently as possible according to the rules set by the business.

Slide 34: Fulfillment: Shipping
Now that the item is picked and packed as efficiently as possible, it’s time for shipping. A Warehouse Management System with shipping integration provides the complete, accurate picture on shipping prices and logistics.

Slide 35: Fulfillment: Shipping
The Warehouse Management System is going to make shipping as efficient as possible. The WMS holds the information on weight, dimensions, and number of parcels. And it also knows shipping rates if it’s integrated with popular carriers such FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service. So the WMS has the information it needs to estimate the cost of shipping. Having accurate pricing helps the business ensure it charges the right amount for shipping instead of overcharging or undercharging based on manual estimates or one-size-fits-all rates. Integration allows the WMS to automatically communicate order information. Customer names and addresses can be automatically communicated to the carrier. And the carrier can automatically communicate actual weights, shipping charges, and tracking numbers back to the business. The system can also automatically transmit shipping documents like shipping statuses and advance ship notices, as well as invoices upon shipping.

Slide 36: Costs, logistics, and the complete picture of shipping
An integrated Warehouse Management System tracks and communicates costs and logistics for the complete picture of shipping.

Slide 37: Fulfillment with Ultimate Efficiency
Warehouse Management Systems offers picking, packing, and shipping with Ultimate Efficiency It helps define a picking workflow that aligns with other workflows and logistics. Even with variations of packing, a Warehouse Management System helps ensure packing is performed as efficiently as possible according to the rules set by the business. And integrated Warehouse Management System tracks and communicates costs and logistics for the complete picture of shipping.

Slide 38: Does your business need a Warehouse Management System?
Does your business need a warehouse management system?

Slide 39: 7 Signs a Business Needs a WMS
We’ve put together seven signs that it might. • Tracking inventory on paper and spreadsheets is manual, leading to errors, extra work, and extra re-work. • If it’s not easy to access complete, accurate, real-time information on products and their counts. • It’s hard to know the value of inventory, whether it’s business or customer owned. • Many businesses hold others’ products on consignment yet don’t consider those products inventory. The consignee nonetheless is selling this inventory will want a good handle on what it’s selling and what it’s worth.

Slide 40: 7 Signs a Business Needs a WMS
• When it feels like inventory, operations, and workflow are running on different schedules, it might be time for a Warehouse Management System. • When the warehouse isn’t integrated with the rest of the business, it’s usually a sign of manual processes that are unnecessarily time-consuming and error-prone. • Without a Warehouse Management System it can be hard for a business to stick to its own inventory rules and keep stock levels optimal.

Slide 41: Make the Most of the Warehouse
Thank you very much, Will. Essent is dedicated to providing efficiency in the promotional products industry, and Essent solutions support all of the capabilities discussed today. Essent has an integrated Warehouse Management System built into its business management technology solutions. To learn more about Warehouse Management System, you can visit Essent.com/WMS There you can learn more about everything we discussed today, and also get in touch with an Essent representative for a free consultation. Again, that’s Essent.com/WMS to learn more. Thanks again to everyone for attending today’s webinar. Make the most of the Warehouse with a Warehouse Management System.
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