When we think of a CRM (customer relationship management) we immediately think of sales representatives and marketing departments. Tracking customer interactions and leads. On the other hand, with a WMS (warehouse management system) we tend to think of it in the context of the vast and ever expansive warehouse filled with inventory. Managing the logistics of inventory coming in and out, tracking stock levels, and managing the daily warehouse activities.
One could be forgiven for seeing these as two separate unrelated systems. The departments who tend to interact and use them daily certainly have a significant degree of separation. Just think about it, if you’re in a sales role, when was the last time you had to go to your companies’ warehouse. Vice versa if you’re part of the warehousing department. Yet while we silo departments in a business for organizational purposes, integration between core business systems can be extremely beneficial. This is especially true for your WMS and CRM.
So how can integrating your CRM with your WMS prove to be an effective strategy, and why should it be contemplated?
First and foremost, your CRM and WMS hold a vast amount of data. Primarily your CRM holds the data that is customer driven. Things like accounts, contact information, interactions between the business and customer, information related to the customer like previous orders, quotes, and revenue generated. A CRM also supports your sales processes and helps to manage the stages of customer engagement from leads to opportunities all the way to deal closure. What a CRM is great at doing is creating relationships between relevant customer data that your business collects to augment the sales process. This data can then be used to gain insights on your business and customers.
Your WMS on the other hand stores data related to your inventory. It gathers information about every item that enters and exits your warehouse. It tracks everything from order fulfillment processes, inventory management, scheduling, customer information, shipping details, and much more. A WMS is great at helping to manage all parts of your warehouse and its resources accurately, so that your business runs smoothly and without errors.
As we start to enumerate the features and characteristics of a WMS and CRM, we begin to see some of the relationships that would be useful to have by integrating both systems. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
First is customer information. Specifically accounts and contacts. As mentioned, a CRM is great at gathering information about your customers. Chances are that the first point of contact for customers within your organization will be sales or service related personnel. They will manage current customers and orders as well as advise potential new customers. So, information related to the customer will be gathered by them. This type of information though is equally beneficial to your WMS. Once your customer places an order their information can be used by your WMS to create the order for the warehouse to fulfill on. Rather than having to switch systems, or else fill out a form that then gets sent to your warehouse team, where the same information is then entered into the WMS for fulfillment, you can instead integrate the two systems so that the process becomes seamless without any duplication of tasks.
Tracking of orders and communicating this information back to your customers has become standard. Your WMS of course handles the logistics of the order fulfillment process but by integrating it with your CRM, which is your main communicating tool, you can easily make your customers aware of the status of their orders. On top of this you can even create a customer portal with a personal login where all the information can be communicated to your customer at their convenience.
All that inventory information can be helpful to your sales department as well. Say one of their customers requires a quote for a product. By having your CRM and WMS integrated they can easily pull the pricing and at the same time check its availability and lead times for fulfillment. By having this information easily available through integration of the CRM and WMS they can inform their customers quickly and accurately.
Knowing how your business operates is critical. By integrating your CRM and WMS you can start generating reports that are meaningful to your various teams and give them as broad or as specific detail on the insights you want to extract. For example, let’s say you run a report to correlate between top selling products and their fulfillment times. You realize based on the report that your top selling products are being stored in hard to reach areas of your warehouse. You decide to increase efficiency by strategically reorganizing where products are stored to align better with your sales operations. This type of reporting and insights are made easier by integrating the two systems and can save time, which boosts productivity.
Integrating creates efficiency. Whether you’re in your organization's warehouse or sales department, both have specific processes in place according to the tasks that must be accomplished. By integrating your WMS and CRM systems, you can connect these processes to make them more efficient. By creating automated, proficient, and interconnected processes your business runs smoother. In this way you create a more intuitive infrastructure that not only leverages your business systems but makes people’s jobs easier.
Your WMS and CRM are fed data and information from very different parts of your organization. As demonstrated, we can see the obvious relationships between this data and how it can be used to create a more intuitive infrastructure where efficiency can be gained. By having your CRM and WMS integrated, if not on the same very same platform like Akatia's WAM warehouse management system, you will find that your systems and departments become more holistic which outperform a segregated approach.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of having your WMS and CRM on the same platform get in touch with us by clicking the link below.