This question and the answer were originally posted on Quora.
Based on a few assumptions, there are likely two most important aspects of your needs in a WMS. First, the expiration dates of your produce. Second, the timeliness of your deliveries to customers.
Based on this you need to consider the best WMS to manage fresh produce is going to be specialized for food and produce. Here are some unique features you may want to have within your WMS:
- Expiration date tracking – which will act to make sure you don’t send out expired product, as well as making sure you use a first in first out method of inventory management
- Lead Timing Prediction – ideally you will find something that helps you track and optimize the ordering of your produce from suppliers. Averaging and providing the number of days between when you ordered and when you received will help you make accurate purchase decisions. This can also be helped by knowing how fast a particular product is moving (demand) given seasonality and fluctuations to purchase more accurately and automated
- Bin (Pod) Management – in your case, not all products will have a barcode, so you need a way to tell exactly the quantity of each type of produce is available. With your WMS you need a way to assign product quantities to a bin via barcode. In this way, you can quickly scan the bin and make the sale right there, or simply know how many are available by the bin. Each bin could also be assigned a date which will help you to keep accuracy.
- Routing & Delivery – I’m assuming you are doing your own delivery to local areas or national across a warehouse network. In this case, it will be extremely beneficial to have your fleet tied in so they can automatically be routed across incoming orders.
- Mobile Sales – Being able to take sales while at the point of delivery, or separately across salespeople can be very valuable. Having a mobile app to view real-time inventory while placing orders will significantly help you achieve your distribution targets.
- Full Mobile Functionality – Being able to pick-pack-ship orders via the app, being able to take a new product order, being able to reallocate inventory or provide routing and proof of deliveries with invoices will provide a major leg up in your efforts here
In the end-to-end system described above you will have full control over your supply, as well as quality control mechanisms in place, and finally the ability to quickly and efficiently route that product around to your customers. The best WMS to manage fresh produce should take all these things into consideration before you make your selection.
The only system I know of that does all of this is the Distribution Hub, which was built specifically for food wholesalers. Check out the mobile app. If you’d like to learn more about the system you can reach out to a firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website: Mobile WMS and Last-Mile Distribution System | Distribution Hub
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