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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Best Apparel Warehouse Management Systems

As we have discussed many times in the past, the apparel industry is not all about fashion week and blogging about celebrities wearing trendy t-shirts.  There are tons of rather boring aspects that play a critical role in the success or failure of clothing companies.  One such aspect is the element of managing inventory.  Designing, producing, and selling garments is obviously very important.  But finding the item in a massive warehouse is equally as important.  Regardless of whether or not your company uses your own warehouse or if you use a third party facility, it is important to make sure that the warehousing facility is using an appropriate WHS (warehouse management system).

How do public warehouses that cater to the apparel industry properly manage inventory?  Many warehouse develop their own internal systems.  However, it is also possible to purchase out of the box solutions. 

A warehouse management system (WMS) is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, putaway and picking.  A WMS monitors the progress of products through the warehouse.  It involves the physical warehouse infrastructure, tracking systems, and communication between product stations.  In other words, it helps a company know what has arrived into a warehouse and where in the warehouse the items can be found.  It also helps track what leaves the warehouse.  More precisely, warehouse management involves the receipt, storage and movement of goods, (normally finished goods), to intermediate storage locations or to a final customer.

Warehouse management systems often utilize automatic identification and data capture technology, such as barcode scanners, mobile computers, wireless LANs and potentially radio-frequency identification (RFID) to efficiently monitor the flow of products. Once data has been collected, there is either a batch synchronization with, or a real-time wireless transmission to a central database. The database can then provide useful reports about the status of goods in the warehouse.

Warehouse design and process design within the warehouse (e.g. wave picking) is also part of warehouse management. Warehouse management is an aspect of logistics and supply chain management.

Warehouse management systems can be standalone systems, or supply chain execution suite, modules of an ERP system. Depending on the size and sophistication of the organization, the system can be as simple as a handwritten list that are updated when required, spreadsheets using software such as Microsoft Excel or Access or purpose-built software programs. This really depends on the size of your business.

You can find several resources on the web that list top warehouse management system lists.  Simply search on Bing or Google, to look for the best of lists and you are sure to find something.  Here is an example that you may find to be helpful.


If you find additional resources that are specifically geared toward the fashion industry, please share the links in the comment section below.

If you are happy with a particular software that you currently use, please share your experience in the discussion area so we can all learn from you.

By the way, we mentioned “wave picking” above, but realize that not all fashionistas would know what that means.  Here is a brief explanation if you are interested: Wave picking is a term for a process used in a warehouse management system to describe a process to support managing the work of a warehouse or distribution center. Wave picking is an application of short interval scheduling, to assign orders into groupings (waves) and release them together so as to allow management to coordinate the several parallel and sequential activities required to complete the work.  

Thank you for taking the time to read our fashion warehouse technology blog post. We hope that you have found this news to be informative. If you have comments or questions, please add your thoughts in the discussion area below.

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