As a result of big changes in supply chain management, warehouse management system software needs to evolve further to deal with another phenomenon: Returns.
In regards to returns, 2 questions are relevant:
- Should a warehouse management system (WMS) become a returns management system? or
- Should a warehouse management system (WMS) integrate with a returns management system?
Let's try to answer question 1:
I am sure that the top 10 warehouse management systems all have certain capabilities to deal with returns. If we agree that a warehouse management system (WMS) should be capable to deal with returns, the next questions becomes relevant:
- Does the WMS need to be capable to deal with returns from the moment they arrive at the warehouse? or
- Does the WMS only handle returns when they have been pre-screened by a dedicated returns management system?
Typically, a WMS is designed to receive goods in a good condition. Typically, returns arrive at a warehouse in different (good and bad) conditions. A returned product first need to be graded to define whether its condition is good (grade a) or bad (grade B, C or D). It is obvious that grade-A products should be stored in the WMS as these products can be shipped on a regular outbound sales order. But does it also makes sense to store other grade products in the WMS, knowing that these product will likely be handled differently (disposition like repair or recycling).
Considering the above it makes sense to have a dedicated returns management system taking care of product grading and storage of non-grade A products. This means that the WMS should not handle returns from the moment they arrive at the warehouse. The WMS should only handle pre-screened grade-A products.