Pio vs. WMS: Do I need both?
A lot of people ask us if Pio is a replacement for their WMS.
Usually, a Pio system eliminates the need for a warehouse management system (WMS), but you can technically use both, if it serves your business needs.
We're here to clarify the differences between a Pio system and WMS, so you can make the best decision for what would benefit your business.
What are warehouse management systems?
A warehouse management system is a type of software developed to help you manage your inventory more effectively and carry out order processing tasks more strategically.
Designed to include a set of policies and processes tailored to match your operational flow, a WMS will provide clear access to information about your stock and help you get to market faster.
One of the core features of a WMS platform is its ability to connect to existing systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (or ERP) systems, online stores, mechanized technology, and even intelligent storage solutions. In short, a WMS can act as a central hub for where your inventory is, where it needs to go, and what quantities of goods you need to handle.
Does every warehouse need a warehouse management system?
As mentioned, once Pio is set up, most of our clients no longer need a WMS and can save money without one. However, for warehouses that have been using a WMS for several years or see its benefits as an essential part of their operations, Pio can integrate with existing processes.
While for many warehouses, a WMS will be an integral part of their day-to-day operations, for others, its benefits are minimal. This usually comes down to how well-organized your warehouse is and how efficient your processes are. For example, if you already have good visibility of stock and accuracy isn’t an issue, the need for a WMS may be redundant.
One instance where the use of both Pio and a WMS can be beneficial is for larger warehouse operations involving multiple units or locations. In this case, a cloud-based WMS can be a key tool in streamlining supply chain management and enhancing cross-selling techniques.
Even though warehouse management systems have changed the face of sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, retail, and distribution — with other solutions now available, a WMS isn’t the only option for achieving efficiency and accuracy across your business.
Pros and cons
A WMS can be implemented at any time before, during, or after the integration of other technology, but business transformation is best mapped out in advance.
Here are some of the benefits of a WMS:
1. Improved inventory management
The right WMS software can provide real-time visibility into stock levels, item locations, and movements. This enables you to map out your warehouse more effectively and manage your inventory more accurately and efficiently, leading to productivity gains for staff and increased profitability.
2. Digital data capture
With a WMS, you can digitize and automate data capture across your warehouse in order to reduce the level of manual input required. This increases productivity and helps eliminate areas where human error can occur, resulting in customer satisfaction benefits downstream.
3. Reduced labor costs
Thanks to the increase in productivity a WMS can help you to achieve, you’re likely to see a reduction in labor costs. With the elimination of mundane or repetitive tasks, it will also be possible to invest the skills of the staff you want to retain more strategically.
Because WMS software is customizable, most allow you to add on new software integrations and support for multiple warehouse locations as your business grows. This allows you to adapt the system to your changing needs.
However, along with the benefits of a WMS, there are also disadvantages to consider.
1. Implementation costs
The cost of implementing a WMS can be high for several reasons. Not only will your access to the software usually be based on a hefty licensing or subscription fee, additional investment in areas such as configuration, training, and software maintenance can be difficult to predict. This can sometimes lead to costs spiraling out of control.
2. Integration issues
Integrating WMS systems into your everyday operations can be challenging at the best of times. Even with a team of developers to support this integration, it can take quite some time before your WMS is effectively up and running and fully implemented.
3. Extensive training
Not all warehouse staff will have prior experience using WMS software; even if they do, your system will likely be unique to anything they’ve ever used. While staff training is essential when it comes to most new technologies, WMS training is often extensive and must be ongoing to address any updates or adjustments.
4. Vulnerable to change
It’s often the case that only a few people in your warehouse will know your WMS system in depth and have the ability to make necessary changes as your business evolves. If these employees leave, it can take time to train new staff members on how to keep your WMS functioning as it should. As well as this, because WMS platforms are so complex, they’ll usually require regular updates to continue working effectively. This can cause issues for warehouses in terms of downtime and inefficiencies before/during updates.
How can automated technology eliminate the need for a WMS?
Whether you choose to implement a warehouse management system or seek out alternative options, the most important thing is to find a solution that works for your warehouse.
For example, your warehouse may have certain complexities that others don’t have e.g. multiple locations or a heavy reliance on seasonal products; in this case, a wider integration of automated technology may be necessary. However, for many other businesses, a single comprehensive system may be enough to elevate your performance with immediate effect.
This is why if your warehouse does not currently have a WMS, it’s good to explore automation solutions known for eliminating the need for one. While the option will still be there to investigate additional solutions later, you could be one of the businesses that requires no further systems in place.
One good option to consider is the implementation of an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) like Pio that can be customized to your warehouse. With Pio, the need for a WMS is often removed due to the system’s ability to store, browse, and retrieve items automatically and strategically. If you still feel like a WMS could benefit your business after Pio is installed, our team will be able to assist with aligning your system accordingly.
How does Pio work?
As a cube-based warehouse storage solution that utilizes automated technology, Pio is designed to reduce many of the usual headaches associated with warehousing. By eliminating specific manual tasks and optimizing the rest, Pio allows you to pick and pack around 130 order lines per hour with 99.9% accuracy. Because of this, the need for a WMS system is significantly reduced in most B2C and D2C scenarios.
Even for B2B warehouses handling small quantity orders, Pio enables you to have complete orders ready to be packed without manual input. Operating almost like a vending machine and mirroring your online store or order management system, our robots know exactly where your item needs to be stored for easy access and improved efficiency.
Because Pio robots automatically deliver all orders to your workstation, all you need to do is pack your orders and they’re ready to go!
Some other benefits of Pio:
- Increased storage capacity — Pio provides 10x better storage capacity in your same warehouse unit
- A solution tailored to you — Pio's cube-based storage grid is modular, and is custom designed to take advantage of all available space in your warehouse
- Easy to use — User training on Pio takes less than 5 minutes, far less than with a WMS
- Scalability — As your business grows, Pio can expand to hold more inventory and handle higher throughput, all without downtime
- Easy integration — With a one-click integration to Shopify and an Open API, Pio is easy to connect to e-commerce platforms and other software solutions, with or without a WMS
- No software licensing — Add unlimited users to Pio, there’s no licensing fee
At Pio, we simplify your automation transformation by providing:
- Delivery and installation of the hardware
- Full training on how to optimize your inventory control, inventory tracking, order processing, and more
- Supply of full documentation for the system
- Ongoing support to help you get the most out of Pio
Is Pio the right solution for your warehouse?
For warehouse owners feeling apprehensive about adopting or changing to a new WMS, Pio may be the perfect solution. Because Pio provides an ‘all-in-one’ solution for order storage and retrieval, you can realize many of the advantages of a warehouse management system, without any of the implementation headaches or costs.
While a warehouse management system might still be worth considering, Pio offers an alternative.
To learn more about Pio, you can schedule a free strategy call with a member of our team to get advice from our efficiency experts. We're always happy to offer advice and guidance.