Managing Inventory with a Scalable WMS in NetSuite

Your inventory is one of your most important company assets - there is no room for inaccurate or delayed orders due to inventory errors in NetSuite. Whether you are using paper today or have a mobile solution in place, your inventory system should be able to expand as your business does. Managing growing orders and inventory is easier if you have a scalable NetSuite WMS system that can accommodate your needs now and in the future. But what does scalability look like when it comes to WMS?

According to Gartner, Cloud scalability is "the measure of a system's ability to increase or decrease in performance or cost in response to change in demand." Typically, NetSuite customers are fast-growing companies looking to move to the Cloud from legacy business systems. The appeal of the Cloud comes from the software providing a flexible, easy-to-use platform with a broad range of functionality that anyone can access via any device at any time. To expand this flexibility into the supply chain, businesses need to shop for WMS SuiteApps to extend NetSuite's key warehousing, wholesale distribution, manufacturing and retail functionality. Since scalability is one of the key features of a cloud solution, how do you know if a NetSuite WMS solution is truly scalable to meet your business needs?

Scalable NetSuite WMS_v2

 

When looking for a scalable NetSuite WMS, there are a few factors to consider. Logically, as your business grows it is going to become more complex. You manage this complexity by adding in new processes and advanced functionality to handle the growing needs of your business. However, if you aren't in that place right now, why purchase advanced features if you don't need them? WMS systems that are not truly scalable often have you purchase features you don't need in the hopes that you will grow into them. The right scalable system offers a custom fit that will provide the right mix of picking, packing, and inventory control to meet your current business needs, but can also grow with you - not the other way around. You want to find a scalable WMS because it protects your bottom line today and tomorrow.

3 Key Factors in Managing your Growing Inventory

To choose a scalable WMS, you need to understand your Order Volume, Complexity, and Supply Chain Growth, to determine what your operational strategies should be to implement a WMS system that will support you.  

1. VOLUME

The need to hire more people is a common pain point that occurs when sales order volume increases and you don't have the infrastructure in place to support it. This leads to more overhead costs or longer lead times, which could result in unhappy customers. If you are experiencing any of the pain points below, a WMS system can help you handle increases in your order volume:

  • Sales are growing (especially in peak season)
  • Need more inventory due to high turn rates
  • Need more people to handle influx in orders
  • Need a lower cost per unit

Operational Strategy for Increased Order Volume: A scalable WMS can also help support you during seasonal peaks with additional users. If the product is easy to use, training will be quick and easy. Implementing a mobile WMS will increase productivity of your workforce by decreasing travel time across the floor and prompting them on the most efficient pick path straight from the device. By scanning in both the picking and packing processes, the real-time validation into NetSuite ensures customers are receiving the right items in a timely manner, improving customer service metrics.

You will also see benefits of inventory accuracy and visibility by implementing a mobile Cycle Counting. This process guarantees you have the right amount of product on the shelves when you need it, eliminating the extra costs around safety stock. 

Key Takeaway: Implementing a Scalable WMS ensures sales grow faster than costs

2. COMPLEXITY

Different-sized businesses have different WMS needs. A small startup doesn’t need a full-blown system with automation and license plating, just as a larger business needs more than just standard picking and receiving. When evaluating the complexity of your organization, it is important to think about where you are, but also where you want to go. You don’t want to purchase unnecessary functionality now, but you still need a solution that can support you when you reach that point. If you identify with one or more of the below scenarios, complexity is a key metric when evaluating WMS solutions.

  • I have to add more SKUs to offer more (LOTs, Serials)
  • I can’t afford to pick one order at a time any longer
  • Increasing Regulations (Pharma, Food & Beverage, Chemical)
  • I need my system to be faster
  • I’m interested in using Automation

Operational Strategy: A scalable WMS can help you meet any of these challenges. You need a mobile inventory management solution that can handle SKU growth in both count and type. Support to move and track pallets with multiple SKUs, LOTs or Serials with License Plates can improve productivity by reducing extra scans. Implementing Pick Planning can help you automate picking strategies (Waves, Zones, UOM, etc) and create work tasks in NetSuite automatically, optimizing which employees and equipment are performing the work.

If you are in an industry with regulation and compliance requirements, tracking inventory becomes business critical. A scalable WMS needs to be able to efficiently create labeling for everything from raw materials to finished goods for traceability. You will also need support for multiple label standards and compliance rules and be able to deliver that information in real-time in NetSuite.  

If you are looking to implement 3rd party solutions to automate processes (conveyors, PLCs, ASRS, etc) and integrate the material movement transactions into NetSuite, a custom solution for each piece could be a costly challenge to implement and maintain. You want an Automation solution that leverages tested integration to connect multiple operating systems and update transactional data in real-time in NetSuite. 

Key Takeaway: As your transactions grow, your time per transaction needs to go down with the automation of processes

3. SUPPLY CHAIN GROWTH

The term supply chain growth can have a variety of meanings, but in this instance you want to examine the reach of your supply chain. Are you working with Amazon or big box retailers that have specific requirements to meet to be a vendor or are you a true global business?  You need to make sure your WMS has the tools you need to meet these requirements. Are you experiencing any of the following criteria?

  •  I need to add another facility
  •  I’ve added shifts and time zones
  •  My B2B customers will hit me with chargebacks if I don’t meet their requirements
  •  I’ve got more global vendors and customers

Operational Strategy:  When choosing a WMS, you want to ensure your WMS partner understands both NetSuite and warehouse management best practices. Ensure the WMS can scale to global requirements (container receiving, GSI standards, Multi language support). Your WMS partner also needs to be willing to understand your business, your processes, and be there to help you meet these requirements and continue to grow. Look for planning tools like Location leveling that can help you track and move inventory across multiple locations. Be sure to ask about flexible licensing solutions as your business gets “wider.”  As your operations become more complex, you also don't want to be slowed down with wireless or hardware problems. Are they a total end-to-end solution provider that can help you with everything from Wi-Fi coverage, to the best mobile devices for your use case?  

Key Takeaway: Develop software strategies to comply with your biggest customers (Wave by Customer, label printing, box size requirements, shipping)

Is RF-SMART a Scalable NetSuite WMS?

If you are experiencing pain in your warehouse volume, complexity, or supply chain growth, RF-SMART can be your trusted supply chain partner. Our WMS product was built with scalability in mind. Across our 1,000+ NetSuite customers, we support small start-ups with no bins all the way to large publicly traded companies with full automation, paperless picking and RFID. We offer different bundles and advanced features to meet you where you are now, and you can have the confidence as you grow, so can your solution. 

Our team is also full of supply chain experts. We have over 35 years in the warehouse and supply chain space. We launched our mobile solution for NetSuite in 2013 and have continued to build and expand on the product. 

“The ease of operation and the improvement to our customer service made RF-SMART a smart investment. More than that, RF-SMART is dedicated to our success. Our company will be able to grow in the future with RF-SMART, and I consider them my partner in running my business.” - Fisk Industries

Every company is different, but you can read any of our NetSuite customer case studies and see the results. One of the biggest benefits customers see in implementing a scalable WMS is that increased inventory accuracy provides the largest value, followed closely by increased worker productivity. 

“RF-SMART’s picking and packing functions have improved order accuracy. I know our orders are going out correctly. That’s a huge deal because it effects our customer satisfaction and retention … Picking accuracy at 99% leads to more order picked, packed and shipped, which increases our cash flow. RF-SMART has also increased the efficiency on the floor. Employees no longer must stop what they’re doing, look data up in NetSuite from a desktop and then go back and start their task over. We can see RF-SMART updating NetSuite." - Becker Safety

Want to learn how RF-SMART can help your business with a scalable WMS?

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