Warehouse Management Software Buyer's Guide
How to Evaluate Warehouse Management Software Solutions and Questions to Ask
By Kim O'Shaughnessy, Market Research Associate
Warehouses are an integral part of the profitability of any company working within the supply chain. Today’s customers are increasingly less accepting of mistakes that cause late delivery, ready to leave a bad review online without a second thought. In order to stay competitive in this intense market, many companies are adopting warehouse management software (WMS). But there are a few key factors to consider when shopping for a new WMS solution.
- Warehouse management solutions provide greater visibility, increased replenishment, improved efficiency and a higher quality of operations.
- In order to accomplish your implementation goals, WMS buyers need to create a list of requirements.
- WMS software systems provide users with a number of additional features such as labor and inventory management.
- Asking prospective vendors a series of questions, like the ones listed below, during demos is a necessary step to finding the perfect solution for your business.
What This Guide Covers
- What WMS Systems Do and Their Benefits
- Implementation Goals
- Basic WMS Platform Features & Functionality
- Best WMS Features & Functionality
- WMS Software Comparison
- SelectHub’s WMS Companies ShortList
- Questions to Ask a WMS Vendor
WMS Systems Benefits and What They Do
Warehouse management software (WMS) performs several vital functions within a supply chain. The system is designed to provide visibility, event management, performance management-based metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) of overall warehouse performance. A successful WMS can reduce inventory turns while increasing replenishment, pick, pack and ship efficiency, and improving quality.
A WMS transforms inbound shipments, providing a framework for organizing warehouses to ensure optimal efficiency and speed. High performing WMS suites can also drastically reduce the costs of compliance and regulatory reporting.
Supply chains are the fuel that drives the growth of many companies today. A scalable, secure and fast WMS can assist in transforming supply chain efficiency into internal process performance gains all while ensuring accuracy, compliance and cost control. Furthermore, WMS systems work to:
- Reduce the costs associated with carrying too much inventory and optimize inventory turns to minimize financial risks.
- Balance inventory levels by product across all warehouses.
- Provide a strategic view of all warehouse locations and their relative status.
- Improve logistics and supply chain process efficiency, resulting in lower inventory and warehouse management costs.
- Provide greater supply chain visibility to partners and quote accurate delivery times.
- Integrate demand planning into WMS workflows to minimize out-of-stock conditions for parts, assemblies and products in high demand.
- Enable traceability across an entire supply chain to ensure legal and regulatory compliance.
- Support more effective labor allocation across warehouses and better optimization of skill sets to specific tasks.
- Increase warehouse security levels by automating each phase of warehouse management and tracking inventory movement.
- Improve transportation and logistics performance with visibility into inventory levels and the status of inbound shipments into warehouse locations.
- Define a plan for continuous process improvement at the warehouse level that scales across all locations.
While every business is going to have unique issues they are trying to solve with a WMS, there are a few common goals amongst businesses when they implement this type of software. In order to accomplish these goals, you’ll have to come up with a list of requirements. Think about these goals as you create that list:
Improve Logistics Related to Physical Warehouse Locations
|Between managing bins, slotting and optimization algorithms, location management serves to unify the logical functionality of a WMS with a physical location. The best-in-class location management systems have the ability to create a framework for optimizing a broad network of warehouse, distribution centers and fulfillment locations globally.|
Track the Financial Success of Your Inventory Management
|The highest performing WMS suites have the ability to support a broad base of accounting methods to track and report the financial performance of inventory management. In assessing a given WMS vendor’s ability to excel on this dimension, the suite needs to support the following at a minimum: distributed order management, asset tracking, service management, product identification and inventory optimization.|
Improve Pick, Pack and Ship
|Integral to inventory management and fulfillment workflows, pick, pack and ship originated in SCM systems decades ago. Evaluate vendors on their support for piece, case and pallet picking, including their ability to provide mixed pallet workloads for delivery to multiple locations.|
Support Efficient and Quick Replenishment
|How quickly a given warehouse can obtain additional inventory and still fulfill existing demand on time is a measure of inventory replenishment. The foundational elements of replenishment are based on the economic order models, predictive algorithms and, in lower-end systems, rules-based representative models. Replenishment models are often defined by the warehouse location, product and stocking location. Look for how WMS vendors provide real-time insights, support large-scale new product introductions and the sale of new add-on products.|
Basic WMS Platform Features & Functionality
The following functions should be covered by any basic warehouse management software:
|Inventory Management||All WMS software and platforms share this common feature, with the high-end suites capable of synchronizing warehouse locations across a diverse, geographically distributed network. Look for support of cost and accrual-based accounting methods in addition to the flexibility of defining which is the best for your given business model or workflow. There is also variation in support of product tracking technologies, with high-end WMS supporting radio frequency identification (RFID) and the long-established barcode standards that continue to be instrumental in managing warehouses.|
|Order Management and Replenishment||The essence of any supply chain management (SCM) system is the ability to orchestrate the many inbound shipments from suppliers and then align them with production schedules to fulfill customer demand. Distributed order management (DOM) systems are the catalyst that is enabling SCM systems to branch out and become multilocational while streamlining warehouse, pick, pack and ship and advanced supply chain functions. All WMS systems need to have the ability to integrate and receive real-time data from an OMS. Best-in-class WMS suites have distributed order management systems that provide a solid platform for order fulfillment.|
Best-in-class WMS suites and platforms have the ability to define the optimal working schedule for a specific team of warehouse workers, while also scheduling workloads to minimize overtime. Labor management modules were designed to streamline staffing levels in a diverse series of warehouses. Today, they’ve evolved into training and development platforms to teach new skills to warehouse employees.
Cloud-based warehouse management systems are also providing the option of surveying warehouse workers regarding their perceptions of what’s best and worst about working in a given warehouse or distribution center. The evolving state of analytics in this area can predict turnover rates by employee base with increasing accuracy, which is essential for managers to know in devising strategies for retaining workers.
The WMS software category began in response to the challenges of managing a fast-moving pick, pack and ship distribution environment. As the distribution networks grew and included diverse locations, it became apparent that pick-and-pack needed to be standardized to ensure the highest level of performance. Pick, pack and ship tools provide your warehouse workers with an optimized list of tasks to perform for the most efficient performance.
If your worker has to travel from one end of the warehouse to another to perform a task, he or she might as well perform several others along the way. Pick, pack and ship tools help your team create the best plan and get the most from your labor resources. In evaluating WMS solutions, it’s important to see how deep the pick-and-pack logic and workflows go into their applications. Ask to see how pick-and-pack can be used to manage a diverse network of warehouses and how inventory balancing would be used to minimize costs.
Advanced WMS System Features
In addition to the basic functionality mentioned above, WMS vendors also offer more sophisticated features:
|Advanced Shipping Notice||Advanced shipping notice (ASN) capability allows for the supplier to inform the recipient of the shipment and related information before it’s sent out. This includes product descriptions, shipment contents, carrier information, order details and more. ASN can reduce receiving costs and the time it takes to stock your warehouse. With ASN, you can reallocate the extra time and money to grow your warehouse operations. Additionally, ASN can replace an invoice once the shipment is delivered and its contents are verified.|
|Customized Pick and Putaway Rules||WMS provide you with tools that optimize the pick and putaway process. With the ability to customize the built-in rules engine, you can assign restrictions that enable the system to optimize this process in a way that’s unique to your business. With this feature, you can set up where workers will be picking up inventory. This can be used to optimize routes or even clear up space in your warehouse. You can also assign rules that prioritize certain customers’ inventory over others.|
|Cross-Docking||Cross-docking features enable your team to move shipments from an inbound truck (or another vessel) to an outbound truck. This may reduce storage costs and free up space in your warehouse for other ventures. While cross-docking isn’t recommended for every situation, it’s especially helpful when your shipments are time-sensitive, like frozen goods.|
|Task Interleaving||Task interleaving is a practice implemented to assign tasks to warehouse workers in the most optimal way possible. Successful task interleaving reduces missed opportunities for further productivity. For example, if your employee takes a forklift to perform a task at the other end of the warehouse, task interleaving tools would assign them another task on the way that also needs the forklift. These tools also facilitate wave, bath and zone picking, depending on your needs.|
|Business Intelligence||Business intelligence (BI) is a great tool to implement to gain greater insight into your warehouse operations. BI tools include customizable dashboards which allow users to quickly grasp certain KPIs. BI also includes other reporting tools for when you need to share vital information with stakeholders.BI allows you to understand warehouse performance in a number of ways. Systems can provide trends on manufacturing, pick, pack and ship, kitting, labor, demand and more.|
|Payment Processing||Payment processing isn’t a standard, even from top vendors in WMS. However, this functionality can be useful for the right company. Payment processing tools allow you to integrate your point-of-sale (POS) solution. They also support credit and debit card payments.|
Compare WMS Services
The market for warehouse management systems is diverse and holds numerous options. While this ensures an excellent solution is available for your company, it also means you need to carefully compare your choices. The best way to do this is to create a detailed comparison of the products you’re thinking about, using all the features above as criteria.
Luckily, SelectHub has already crafted an in-depth comparison report of the top WMS products. Our analyst team has assessed each product based on its ability to provide the capabilities listed above. Each vendor is given a score and ranked on our Leaderboard. This way, you’re able to compare vendors right next to each other using the benchmarks most important to your business.
SelectHub’s WMS Companies Shortlist
One of the most crucial steps in software selection is creating your shortlist. Shortlists typically consist of three to five vendors that match your requirements better than the other products you’ve reviewed. SelectHub manages the requirements of thousands of businesses, providing us insight into which vendors make it onto the most shortlists. In the graph below, we can see how often the most popular WMS vendors make it into buyers’ shortlists.
Questions to Ask During Warehouse Management Systems Demos
How can I better manage my warehouse locations to financial measures of performance?
The best WMS suites and platforms are tightly integrated with financial reporting systems to provide insights into how warehouse locations are performing from a financial standpoint. Ask to see real-time financials of existing customers that are representative of their warehouse performance. The important aspect of this question is to see how well the WMS provider can link warehouse location performance to financial metrics and reporting.
Can you provide an example of how inventory management has alleviated out-of-stock condition from occurring in the field?
WMS suites integrated with SCM and ERP systems are capable of completing this transaction in real-time and with complete transparency. Anticipating when an out-of-stock condition is going to occur is invaluable in WMS workflows as it can save millions of dollars in lost sales and expediting fees. Out-of-stock conditions can also impact customer satisfaction quickly, reducing the potential for upselling and cross-selling. Having a WMS provider show this in real-time is preferable as out-of-stocks and allocations will occur over the life of any distribution center or warehouse.
Can our company define our framework for warehouse management or do I have to follow your predefined framework?
High-end, state-of-the-art warehouse management suites have frameworks included within them that make enterprise-wide deployments quicker and more efficient. The mid-tier and lower-end suites don’t and often lack the core set of analytics to make the most use of ongoing activity. Look to see if the vendors of interest are selling add-on analytics modules, which is a common practice to boost the deal and maintenance size. The main aspect of the framework for warehouse management is that it scales to the specific growth areas of your business.
How can customer service, support, sales and senior management gain greater insights into customer satisfaction using the warehouse management system?
One of the most challenging aspects of warehouse management is enabling real-time collaboration across all relevant areas of a company. It’s important to ask about role-based access and how each decision maker will be able to get the warehouse data they need to do their jobs. The data model for warehouse management suites needs to be designed to flex with the unique requirements of your business model, scaling as your business does.
With no common data model, there’s going to be limited scale and scope to support entirely new business models your company may be considering. Warehouses have the potential to be the most significant source of revenue for many companies. As such, having a solid collaborative framework for sharing reports is essential to get the most value from an investment in a warehouse management suite.
How will your warehouse management system improve my business?
A scalable, responsive WMS has the potential to accelerate fulfillment, attain higher perfect order rates and earn customer trust over time. The fulfillment cycle of any business is how accurately it makes and keeps commitments to its customers. Ask to see how the WMS solution you are considering integrates different inbound data sources while providing clear insights. Ask how their WMS system can drive performance and financial growth.
Choosing a warehouse management system provider is a task that should be given serious consideration. This warehouse management systems guide is meant to be used as a starting point to guide IT professionals who are tasked with making this decision.
Top 10 Warehouse Management Software Leaders(of 58 products) GET THE IN-DEPTH REPORT
Fishbowl Inventory is an affordable inventory management solution for small and midsize businesses. It is especially popular among manufacturers and wholesale distributors. Fishbowl offers advanced features, including multiple location tracking, seamless QuickBooks integration, order management, and pick/ pack/ ship functionality.
Smart businesses understand that controlling inventory, fulfillment and shipping costs is essential for success. Companies are constantly striving to improve their warehouse operations by increasing agility, visibility and labor efficiency. This requires use of best practices combined with a sophisticated Warehouse Management System (WMS) that optimally manages all resources within the distribution operations while minimizing the total cost of operation or ownership (TCO).The NetSuite WMS solution enables organizations to optimally manage their distribution operations with RF device directed putaway and picking tasks driven by customized user defined strategies and advanced capabilities like wave management, cartonization, cycle count planning, real time inventory updates and integration with shipping systems.
Oracle WMS delivers operational flexibility, optimized warehouse processes, seamless hand-offs with key value chain processes, and pre-integration of advanced warehouse technologies—all at the lowest total cost of ownership. Oracle's flexibility allows you to quickly add operations for new business initiatives like omni-channel fulfilment. And Oracle's award winning analytics allow you see everything about your operations so that you can focus on the metrics that matter.
Drive distribution center and fulfillment agility and efficiency for maximum return on investment JDA’s Warehouse Management solutions optimize the movement of inventory — including the people and material handling equipment required to move it. From raw materials to finished goods at the shelf and fulfilled to consumers, these solutions help enable the most flexible, lean distribution operations possible.
Manhattan Associates’ Warehouse Management System (WMS) software has been an industry leader for years because it provides best-in-class logistics technology that delivers truly measurable ROI and productivity gains in inventory, labor, physical space, time and costs. Going far beyond basic picking, packing and shipping, our WMS software uses advanced algorithms to mathematically organize and optimize warehouse operations and transform your warehouse logistics into a critical strategic component in your supply chain.
Softeon WMS provides more than just real-time control over inbound, outbound and inventory management processes. The highly-configurable system adapts with your warehouse operations to streamline end-to-end supply chain execution processes.
Snapfulfil is a cloud-based warehouse management system that meets the needs of companies of all sizes. With its all-inclusive monthly subscription model, you pay nothing until you go live. Implementation can be completed in as little as 45 days, providing a fast ROI.
Shipedge is a cloud-based warehouse management solution for small, midsize and large enterprises. It caters to e-commerce warehouses, fulfillment service providers, third-party logistics companies (3PL/4PL), omni/multi-channel retailers, distributors (FC/DC), e-fulfillment centers and light manufacturers/assembly houses. The solution helps to manage warehouse inventory, automate fulfillment and integrate software tools (i.e. QuickBooks). Shipedge's order management system allows users to manage information from suppliers, shipping carriers and consumers. Shipedge OMS offers real-time reporting, forecasting, back orders and reverse shipping features. It integrates with Amazon, Shopify, eBay, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Walmart and many other selling channels. Other features include multi-warehouse management of fulfillment networks, 3PL/4PL billing solutions, shipping management, manufacturing BOM/MFG, dropshipping, order routing and more. Shipedge’s Android app has handheld barcode/RF scanning and other complementary features.
SphereWMS Warehouse Management Software optimizes work flow, direction, and processes at an operational level to dramatically increase efficiency and drive down costs for 3PL's, Distribution, Fulfillment, eCommerce and Retail operations.
The 3PLink® Warehouse Management Solution is a set of modules built to manage orders, inventory and billing of a 3rd Party Public Warehouse operation. 3PLink® is an integral part of your technology solution that pays for itself quickly and continues to earn your customers’ confidence. 3PLink® will help you manage your operations better and will make you a better strategic partner for your customers.
Aplicor provides our customers with cloud enabled applications to drive their core processes, allowing them to concentrate on building revenue and profitability. By leveraging our expertise in the wholesale/distribution and financial service industries, our customers can invest strategically in their resources, capital and time. Aplicor customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and ecommerce are all accessible through the cloud and is one embedded system, so customers do not have to worry about integrations, end user adoption due to different applications or the maintenance of hardware infrastructure and software.
AccellosOne Warehouse Management System acts as the hub of your supply chain solution, integrating accounting/order and shipping software systems, electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, Crystal Reports software, radio frequency and barcode hardware, and warehouse automation equipment. Combining radio frequency and barcode technology with a robust, three-tiered, Internet-based architecture, AccellosOne Warehouse delivers a powerful, scalable and flexible real-time warehouse management system that helps you boost productivity.
Integrated Warehouse Solutions for Distribution Operations ASC understands that maintaining control of inventory, space, equipment, manpower, and other resources within your warehouse operation is essential to the survival of your business. ASCTrac® WMS was designed as a Tier 1 Warehouse Management System to solve the demanding challenges of warehouse distribution, manufacturing, and 3rd party logistics operations.
Accuplus 3PL WMS is a warehouse management system that serves small to medium companies in the North American 3rd party logistics industry. The software has been developed to be an easy to use, comprehensive WMS with the ability to manage multiple warehouses and documentation while providing a variety of useful and well laid out reports. Customer visibility and event management are at the heart of the design.
Foxfire provides Warehouse Management Software to support distribution and manufacturing operations. As a certified Microsoft solution provider, Foxfire warehousing software solutions include Windows-based client, web, and mobile applications to support real-time tracking needs. Foxfire warehousing software products are designed to collect and report data generated on the production floor and in the distribution center. These WMS systems provide immediate real time information to floor-level employees, supervisors, and upper-level management so they may more efficiently operate their facility and meet delivery and production goals at lower costs.
IntelliTrack Software manages inventory and assets using barcode, RFID, and wireless tracking technology. IntelliTrack is a leading small to medium business solutions provider that can help you collect, track, and manage anything that can be tagged or barcoded. With over 20,000 installations worldwide, IntelliTrack is the most recognized inventory software brand in the data collection industry.
The Anywhere Warehouse Management™ system has a rangeof integrated modules that together provide a total supply chain management solution. Developed and hosted by Lenoir Technologies, the Lenoir™ architecture provides an open, parameter driven solution that can be integrated with our client systems.
Next View WMS, is a warehouse management system based on the Microsoft .NET 4.0 architecture. Next View WMS utilizes a service oriented architecture with web services and work flows that can be easily tailored to fit the requirements of each customer. Next View WMS can be interfaced to the leading ERP systems for the SME market. Next View WMS is a powerful, real-time system that has the capability to meet future needs.
NTE Warehouse Management provides flexible location management and storage definition capabilities, allowing precise control of inventory across multiple customers, suppliers, warehouses, and distribution centers. Integration with warehouse storage systems allows seamless automation of inventory movement. Integration with external third party systems provides a virtual warehouse view of a customer’s inventory.
ISIS Enterprise offers unlimited system flexibility to ensure your operating environment is supported and optimised. With an open, rules based architecture that is infinitely configurable, ISIS Enterprise can be tailored to meet the most complex and demanding warehousing requirements.
Our Warehouse Management software gives your company unprecedented real-time control over inventory levels and your warehouses and distribution centers. Warehouse Management gathers data on virtually every facet of warehouse operations and uses the information to optimize processes, lower costs and improve customer satisfaction.
Warehouse Management System suite of tools is the core of our Supply Chain Solution. WISE WMS has user defined location rules, package types, picking rules, shipment procedures, packaging techniques, and all other significant details regarding your operations. WISE then optimizes these tasks for you based on detailed algorithmic rule engines. These extensive WISE Functions are available to improve the distribution center’s operations by minimizing costs and increasing productivity.
The Savant Warehouse Management System combines solid business principles and state-of-the-art technology to create a powerful and comprehensive automated warehouse and distribution solution. With the Savant WMS, you can manage and track the movement of inventory from receiving through shipping. The Savant WMS dramatically cuts warehouse costs by eliminating paper work and costly shipping errors, improving staff productivity, and providing accurate inventory levels to all inter-company departments.
McLane Logistics Technology's Warehouse 3g is a cutting edge, new warehouse management system (WMS) built upon the bedrock of over 100 years of warehouse distribution experience. Native to the Microsoft Dynamics® AX ERP application, Warehouse 3g provides a robust feature set and improved functionality that can dramatically improve the efficiency of your warehouse operations.
NetSuite supply chain management software offers a complete set of inventory management, manufacturing and purchasing capabilities that helps move inventory to the right place, at the right time, at the right cost.Gain an in-depth, real-time view into key supplier, inventory and shop floor performance indicators. Self-service capabilities for partners, vendors and customers improve collaboration throughout the entire supply chain. With NetSuite, you'll be able to better manage inventory levels and costs—and better meet fulfillment expectations, improving customer service.
The SAP Warehouse Management system (WMS) provides flexible, automated support in processing all goods movements and in managing stocks in your warehouse complex. The system supports scheduled and efficient processing of all logistics processes within your warehouse. The WMS is fully integrated into the SAP environment. Business processes, which you trigger in other application components, lead to physical goods movements in your warehouse. You organize, control, and monitor these goods movements with the WMS.
Built on our industry-first, patented supply chain technology platform, TECSYS' WMS has been designed to future-proof your business with several major performance advantages already built-in: Patented visual cues, visual-on-voice technology, collaboration with enterprise apps such as ERP and CRM, scalability to any business size and need, intuitiveness and ease-of-use, ability to modify workflows to fit the way users work, accessibility from anywhere at any time, expanded reach into DMS and TMS functionality, and supply chain visibility beyond the warehouse.
WithoutWire™ Warehouse is a full-featured WMS solution that utilizes the latest technology from Microsoft to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, process the associated transactions, and provide real-time and web-based visibility. Automation of warehouse processes via WithoutWire™ WMS delivers value and return on investment justification via efficiencies gained in both inventory and labor optimization.
With Astro WMS, all the pieces fall into place- today and tomorrow. One step ahead and regardless of what is in your warehouse, Astro WMS simplifies and streamlines the work process, reducing the administration and operational costs significantly.
Fully Integrated Warehouse Management designed specifically for 3PL, RAMP System Enterprise provides real- time Inventory Management with Standard reporting capabalities built in including; Standard BOL, Case Picking, Replenishment, Cycling Counting, Kitting, and many more
Conceptualised and developed by a team of professional logisticians, Cristal Warehouse Management System is designed to manage the warehouse operation in accordance to the supporting requirement by the Supply Chain. Incorporated, as standard, with Product Ownership and Stock Ownership, the system is designed to meet both 3PL and private warehouse operational requirement.
PathGuide's enterprise-grade Latitude WMS offers advanced features and customization that will provide your business with the tools necessary to expand sales, improve customer service, and out perform the competition. Latitude integrates seamlessly with all major ERP business systems including Epicor: Prophet 21, Eclipse, Eagle and Acclaim, as well as Infor, Microsoft Dynamics, J.D. Edwards, Oracle, SAP, and more. Video Library: https://resources.pathguide.com/video-library
Pricing & Cost Guide for Warehouse Management Systems
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