It is human nature to look for common ground. Common ground helps individuals achieve more by working together than they could individually. Whether speaking about our personal lives or our professional responsibilities, people crave a single point of truth to unify disparate and complex systems. In the world of warehousing, order fulfillment, and logistics, that single point of truth is the integration between your enterprise resource planning (ERP) with your warehouse management system (WMS).
Among the biggest names in the ERP arena is NetSuite by Oracle. It is the dominant resource planning solution in a market expected to generate over $45 billion by 2024. Over the next decade, the fulfillment and logistics industry is projected to grow exponentially as well, topping $1.3 trillion dollars. The future —along with its common ground— lies with integrating ERP and WMS to form more efficient, prosperous, and adaptable supply chains.
The Basics of ERP/ WMS Integration
ERP software, such as NetSuite, is built to unify operations across the entirety of your business. From accounting to finance, sales to marketing, and all points in between, resource planning software is meant to align all of your business-critical functions in pursuit of your company’s core goals. ERP functions are broad in scope and far-reaching.
WMS software is designed with a more focused purpose in mind. It is meant to automate and oversee all critical logistical tasks in your warehouse, including inventory management, shipping functions, pick and pack, and record keeping. It is a hyper-focused solution with a well-defined purpose.
Integrating the two, however, helps to maintain business continuity and parity between your business and its third-party logistics partners.
Five Reasons You Need To integrate your WMS with NetSuite
We understand what integration is and how to go about it; here are the advantages¹ of integrating a high-value ERP such as NetSuite with a well-built, adaptable WMS
1. Single Conduit for Data Flow
The number one reason for employing an ERP/ WMS integration is the single point of truth referenced above. Integrating all your modular solutions, from Shopify to Shipstation, to PackageBee with your 3PL can be costly and time-consuming. A single connection, such as NetSuite, expertly unifies accounting, administrative, sales, marketing, and procurement with ease. Through NetSuite’s ERP, you have complete control over your company’s workflow. That control doesn’t extend to your outsourced partners, however.
If you work closely with a 3PL provider, utilizing them for vital warehousing and shipping functions, then you need your systems to parlay with theirs successfully. For example, if inventory levels at your fulfillment center dip, it affects many of your internal departments, including procurement and accounting. In reality, what happens with your vendors creates a ripple effect throughout your entire organization.
Integrating your ERP with your vendor’s WMS enables changes in one system to reflect in the other. NetSuite, in particular, has a “save search” feature that records order info and SKU setups, translating a wealth of key information between the two systems.
2. Real Time Data and Reporting
Logistics is not a guessing game. Automation, the IoT, and AI have replaced the manual forecasting activities of yesteryear, creating accuracy in supply and inventory procurement. According to Forbes, 51% of the logistics industry leaders already use big data analytics and AI to capture meaningful metrics, adding efficiency to their processes from top to bottom.
Fostering communication between your NetSuite software and your logistics provider allows you to generate real-time data, including:
Fulfillment efficiency metrics
With integration, you no longer have to rely on predictive methods to address future business. The same Forbes article states that 84% of those using ERP and WMS in conjunction have managed to break down data silos that negatively impact their company’s overall operations.
3. Increased Awareness and Control of Your Operations
Integrating your NetSuite ERP with your vendor’s warehousing system isn’t just about real-time data; it’s about meaningful, actionable data. Think of your vendor’s WMS as a type of traffic control system. It tells inventory where to go at the appropriate time. ERP, on the other hand, is like an urban planner. It uses data from the WMS and its routine traffic patterns to make sense of the big picture, adjusting large-scale operations to make life easier for everyone.
Through integration, your company can use its NetSuite dashboard to harness complex metrics regarding:
The result? Executive-level staff and decision-makers can glean important and abstract financial information from your fulfillment operations like sell points, margins, and costs.
4. Adaptability Through Third-Party Integrations
What better way to bolster your operations, making them more powerful and efficient, than by having two systems working in concert to streamline your business-critical tasks? ERP handles the big picture while WMS takes a narrow focus. Together, integration offers an exponential adaptability level, proving that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
A good 3PL logistics partner can increase operational functionality by recommending 3rd party APIs that will allow your ERP to communicate with a wider range of systems.
5. Cost Savings
There is always the bottom line to consider. Increased communication helps you improve that number. Both ERP and WMS are predicated on cost savings. Each system helps to reduce wasteful spending in its own way. Automation reduces human error. Software solutions allow you to fulfill orders quickly while maintaining accuracy. There are less costly inventory mistakes when a management software is at the helm.
With ERP and WMS working in tandem, cost savings increase rapidly. You can ensure a high level of accuracy while eliminating waste and inventory shrinkage across the entirety of your enterprise.
Future-Proof Your Logistics
The level of business automation worldwide is only going to increase in the coming years. With the advent of the Amazon fulfillment model, customers have come to expect more from your logistics. As the future continues to come into view, integrating your ERP with your vendor’s WMS will no longer be optional; it is a necessity in order to maintain business parity going forward.
For more news and trends from the world of third-party logistics or to speak to one of our representatives about our logistics outsourcing services, please contact Symbia Logistics today.