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
See how the top 10 Warehouse Management Software leaders fare against the most common key requirements
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.
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top Warehouse Management Software
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.|
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top Warehouse Management Software
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.
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top Warehouse Management Software
In addition to the basic functionality mentioned above, WMS vendors also offer more sophisticated features:
|Advanced Shipping Notice||Advanced shipping notice (ASN) capability allows 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 provides 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.|
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top Warehouse Management Software
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.
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.
Expert recommendations and analysis on the top Warehouse Management Software
- WMS Logistics: How a Warehouse Management System Works in the Logistics Chain
- How To Oversee Remote Warehouse Management
- Creating A Strong Warehouse Management System RFP
- 3PL Warehouse Management Systems: What’s Unique About Them?
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.
Fishbowl Inventory streamlines many supply chain focused processes that include improving manufacturing, warehouse inventory accuracy and asset tracking. It allows users to integrate with Quickbooks, ShipStation, Amazon and more. It works with operations of all sizes looking to optimize their warehouse administration and solve inventory specific issues.It automates several manufacturing and inventory management issues to optimize strategic portions of the supply chain better. It focuses on streamlining processes and saving time across the board.
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 stock updates and integration with shipping systems.
The Oracle warehouse management platform is available in the cloud and compliments operations of all sizes. It’s included features provide users with numerous ways to organize, optimize, and streamline their warehousing space and tasks. This system helps boost labor productivity while reducing inventory costs and improving the accuracy of daily warehouse tasks. This system includes a flexible environment that is easily configurable for a quick implementation process. Complex fulfillment support gives users the tools to handle moving large volumes of a product while staying accurate.
JDA’s warehouse management software solution provides a platform that focuses on labor utilization, customer service and warehouse organization to optimize your warehousing processes. With warehousing operations adopting AI driven automation, JDA is ready to make your digital transition go smoothly.Optimized storage and selection strategies keep your products organized and easily locatable. This software package aims to turn your warehousing operation into a cost-controlled, service-focused portion of your supply chain.
HighJump Software is a platform that provides an agile and scalable management solution. This application focuses on growing with your warehousing operation while providing cloud-based automation and organizational tools. It also works to drive down your costs with role-based task direction and labor management features.This platform gives 3PL providers the tools they need to properly manage multi-client warehousing operations and integrate seamlessly into your favorite ERP solutions. The solution’s out-of-the-box features focus on optimizing your entire warehousing operation while reducing risks and keeping errors to a minimum.
Manhattan WMS provides a highly-mobile platform with a focus on flexibility and the usage of advanced algorithms and complex AI. This solution was built to increase efficiency and optimize daily tasks to improve supply chain productivity and organization throughout the operation. Through the system’s tools, users are able to expedite the flow of goods and execute inventory processes across the entire enterprise accurately. By automating a number of processes, this software solution helps users cut down on costly errors while saving time on time-consuming manual tasks. Optimizing both man and machine tasks keeps operations running smoothly and quickly.
Softeon WMS is a platform that helps optimize distribution while bringing a wide array of features to handle all of the basic processes of a modern warehouse. Streamline and organize vital daily tasks like picking, receiving and shipping with this tool, offered as either an on-premise or cloud-based software solution. Softeon provides a platform that focuses on raising a client’s ROI beyond streamlining standard features. This application integrates with a number of systems and comes with an integration configuration application to simplify the process. Customize this tool with other Softeon solutions or others that best fit the requirements of your operation.
QR Inventory is a connected cloud-mobile asset and management system. It uses smartphones and QR code / barcode / NFC tags scanning to keep track of assets. Also has as a built-in QR code generation tool, that allows you to generate, lay out and print QR code labels for your assets.
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.
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.
Shipedge is a cloud-based 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 stock, automate fulfillment and integrate software tools (i.e. QuickBooks). Other features include multi-warehouse management of fulfillment networks, 3PL/4PL billing solutions, shipping, manufacturing BOM/MFG, dropshipping, order routing and more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SkuVault is a cloud-based warehouse management software for small and medium sized omni-channel businesses specializing in eCommerce. SkuVault features warehouse and inventory management applications that include multi-warehouse inventory visibility, customizable catalogs, Hyper Picking, and product kitting to reduce the number of out of stocks, undersells, mis-picks and mis-ships.The inventory management software integrates with other eCommerce software solutions and marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, ShipStation, ShipWorks, Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify and QuickBooks. SkuVault also features a quality control system that helps users ensure that orders are fulfilled correctly and is able to identify where an error occurred during the order fulfillment process. SkuVault is operating system agnostic and also offers mobile applications for Android, iOS and Windows phones.Additionally, SkuVault offers features like cycle counting, paperless wave picking, serialization, and Replenishment reports to improve warehouse operations and reduce human error.SkuVault is priced on a monthly or annual subscription with upfront launch package fees and potential integration cost depending on individual requirements. A dedicated customer service team including On-boarding Specialists is available for users five days a week in addition to community forums and support documentation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CDC Supply Chain’s Warehouse Management solution enables companies to implement supply chain best practices for the physical handling of goods in supply chain nodes, such as finished goods warehouses, central warehouses, distribution centers, cross-dock and flow-through centers, return centers, and local outlets.
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
The 3PL Warehouse Manager was specifically created to enable 3PL providers to manage the unique challenges that face them every day. 3PL Warehouse Manager’s flexibility, scalability and remarkable ease of use helps warehouses run more efficiently, grow their business and satisfy customers ? all for less than $500 per month per warehouse. Not an off-the-shelf warehouse management solution, 3PL Warehouse Manager was built specifically for the way 3PLs’ work.
This fully-integrated suite comprises a Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management System (TMS), 3PL-centric billing and financials (FMS), secure customer access portal (MyLogistics) and collaborative business intelligence tools. Standard functionality includes support for RF, EDI and XML communications, cross docking, assembly/ disassembly, hazardous materials (HAZMAT), foreign trade zones (FTZ), as well as the bonding and excise/ taxation reporting requirements associated with beer, wine, spirits and other regulated commodities.
Seldat’s WMS360 is a modular platform suitable for third-party logistics providers and warehouse operations of all sizes. Key features include inbound and outbound planning, inventory management and automated monitoring. The solution is available in both cloud-based and on-premise deployment options.WMS360 is able to manage both inbound and outbound planning with features such as appointment scheduling, gate management, wave management and shipment building and optimization. RFID tags and sensors can also be used to monitor inventory automatically and in real time.
SAP Warehouse Management streamlines and controls all warehousing processes to create an efficient operation. It allows users to manage all structures present in a warehousing operation, regardless of their complexity, while monitoring stock differences and controlling hazardous materials. It also makes use of barcode scanners to speed up inventory processes. Stock transfers and goods receipts can be managed while monitoring inbound and outbound goods throughout the day. All logistics that are vital to a successful warehousing operation can be taken care of, and many time-consuming processes can be automated to conserve resources.
This proprietary solution is the result of 20 years’ experience in flagship logistics projects. By harnessing our know-how, focusing on the factors that are key to our customers’ success, with our forward-looking approach and our flair for technological innovation, we have distilled best practice to design a management solution for interoperation, production and distribution networks.
Tecsys WMS is a platform that focuses on boosting efficiency while improving order accuracy and management of inventory. With on-premise and cloud-based deployment strategies, this solution can support operations of all sizes. Scale alongside growing operations with an agile software suite intended to handle all of your major warehousing tasks. This application comes with flexible workflows designed for customization in order to better fit the unique requirements of any enterprise. Secure mobile access allows clients to retrieve and view important operational data from anywhere.
Logiwa is a cloud-based warehouse and inventory management software that solves the warehouse management and order fulfillment needs of retail and e-commerce businesses worldwide. Logiwa combines our cutting-edge technology with state-of-the-art optimization techniques to help your business scale to new heights.
Pricing & Cost Guide for Warehouse Management Systems
See the Price/User for the top Warehouse Management Software… plus the most important considerations and questions to ask when shopping for Warehouse Management Systems.
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