5 Best Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Software

Did you know that an efficient warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution designed to optimize warehouse operations, inventory management and order fulfilment? As defined by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), a WMS is a key tool for businesses looking to streamline their warehouse operations and stay competitive. Also referred to as warehouse control or inventory management systems, a WMS offers real-time inventory visibility, optimized processes, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction. So, suppose you’re ready to revolutionize your warehouse operations and stay ahead of the competition. In that case, it’s time to delve into warehouse management systems (WMS), their key features, types, benefits, and the best software providers in the market.

Key Takeaways

  • Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are software solutions that optimize warehouse operations, inventory management and order fulfilment.
  • WMS can be categorized as standalone systems, ERP modules or Supply Chain modules with customizable features for businesses of all sizes.
  • Benefits include improved accuracy and cost savings while providing customers with superior satisfaction through integrated supply chain optimization and visibility into inventory status.

Definition of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) is a software application designed to optimize warehouse operations and related transactions, as defined by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). Also known as warehouse control or inventory management systems, WMS manages processes like storage, movement, and materials accounting. It ensures a smooth flow from acquiring raw materials to delivering finished products, thus maintaining an efficient supply chain.

Integrating a WMS with other systems, such as ERP, TMS, and inventory management systems, can provide additional benefits for retail and wholesale distributors, ultimately optimizing their supply chain operations. Some of the benefits of integrating a WMS with other systems include:

  • Streamlined data flow and improved visibility across systems
  • Enhanced accuracy and efficiency in order fulfilment and inventory management
  • Improved customer service through real-time tracking and notifications
  • Better decision-making through access to comprehensive data and analytics

A cloud-based WMS, like the Softeon warehouse management system, allows for rapid deployment and quick return on investment, enabling organizations to quickly take advantage of its capabilities, as stated by Softeon, a leading provider of supply chain solutions (source).

What are the key features of a warehouse management system?

The primary characteristics of a WMS, as defined by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), include:

  • Inventory tracking: This allows businesses to know exactly where their goods are at any given time. According to a 2020 survey by Wasp Barcode Technologies, 43% of small businesses either do not track inventory or use a manual method.
  • Warehouse design: A well-designed warehouse can significantly improve efficiency. A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology found that strategic warehouse design can reduce operational costs by up to 25%.
  • Receiving and putaway: This involves accepting deliveries and storing them in the correct place. A 2018 report by Zebra Technologies found that 77% of warehouses plan to invest in receiving and putaway technology by 2020.
  • Pick-and-pack: This is the process of gathering items from the warehouse to fulfil orders. According to a 2019 report by Honeywell, businesses can reduce their pick-and-pack errors by up to 70% by implementing a WMS.
  • Shipping: This involves preparing items for shipment and coordinating their delivery. A 2020 report by Statista found that 89% of businesses consider their shipping efficiency when evaluating their overall success.
  • Reporting: This allows businesses to analyze their performance and make data-driven decisions. According to a 2017 survey by Wasp Barcode Technologies, 46% of SMEs either don’t

What constitutes the core functionality of a WMS?

The core functionalities of a WMS encompass inventory management, order fulfilment, and warehouse optimization. A WMS is responsible for capturing inventory data from barcode readers and RFID tags, updating the inventory management module in the ERP system with the latest information, and ensuring control over stock. By providing real-time inventory visibility, coordinating all warehouse operations, and maintaining control over stock levels, a WMS helps reduce discrepancies between recorded and actual stock levels, resulting in improved accuracy in inventory management.

Employing a WMS allows businesses to:

  • Boost inventory accuracy
  • Minimize costs
  • Enhance efficiency
  • Better manage warehouse operations
  • Optimize the supply chain
  • Improve customer service.

What are the types of WMS?

WMS can be classified into three main categories:

  1. Standalone systems: These are specialized software solutions specifically designed for warehouse management. According to Gartner, standalone systems still constitute a significant portion of the WMS market due to their robust functionality and flexibility.
  2. ERP modules are integrated components of larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. According to a 2020 report by Panorama Consulting Solutions, nearly 81% of organizations use ERP solutions, many of which include a WMS module.
  3. Supply chain modules are integrated components of larger supply chain management (SCM) systems. According to a study by MHI and Deloitte, 57% of respondents currently use supply chain software, with an additional 22% planning to do so within the next two years.

Each type of WMS is designed to cater to the specific needs of businesses, offering features such as receiving, putaway, picking, packing, shipping, and other essential warehouse operations functions.

How many types of WMS solutions exist in the market?

Three primary WMS solutions are available in the market: standalone WMS, cloud-based WMS, and supply chain module WMS. These solutions cater to different industries, including manufacturing, third-party logistics (3PL), retail, e-commerce, and distribution, each requiring distinct functionalities and features from their WMS software.

What is the most common WMS?

According to a report by Gartner, Standalone WMS is the most widely used type of warehouse management system. This type of system is specifically designed for warehouse management, offering key features such as:

  • Inventory management
  • Warehouse operations
  • Barcode scanning
  • Slotting
  • Putaway
  • Picking
  • Packing

However, a standalone WMS does not typically include additional supply chain operations.

Standalone WMS systems are highly customizable, making them a popular choice among businesses. Depending on a business’s specific needs, they can be integrated with other systems or used independently.

Why do warehouses need WMS?

The implementation of a Warehouse Management System (WMS) in a warehouse aids in streamlining operations, enhancing efficiency, and curbing costs. Without a WMS, warehouses are likely to encounter issues such as:

  • Inefficiency
  • Human errors
  • Inadequate inventory accuracy
  • Delays in order fulfillment

A WMS can significantly improve warehouse management and supply chain efficiency by providing real-time inventory visibility, coordinating all warehouse operations, and ensuring control over stock.

Moreover, a WMS can integrate with other supply chain systems such as ERP, TMS, and inventory management systems to provide additional benefits for retail and wholesale distributors. This integration allows businesses to optimize their supply chain operations, better manage their inventory, and, ultimately, satisfy their customers.

Is a Warehouse Management System essential for modern warehouses?

A WMS is indispensable for modern warehouses to retain their competitiveness and meet customer requirements. Implementation of a WMS can enable businesses to:

  • Improve their inventory accuracy
  • Reduce costs
  • Enhance efficiency
  • Better manage warehouse operations
  • Optimize the supply chain
  • Improve customer service

Furthermore, businesses must consider scalability, integration capabilities, and industry-specific features when selecting a WMS. By evaluating these factors, businesses can choose the most suitable WMS for their unique requirements and ensure optimal warehouse management and supply chain efficiency.

What benefits do businesses gain from a WMS?

The use of a WMS can result in:

  • Improved inventory accuracy
  • Cost reduction
  • Heightened efficiency
  • Better management of warehouse operations
  • Optimization of the supply chain
  • Improved customer service
  • Enhanced inventory visibility
  • Optimized operations and processes
  • Cost savings by diminishing waste and mistakes
  • Satisfied customers

These are some advantages of utilizing a WMS for tracking inventory and inventory control.

Integrating a WMS with other systems, such as ERP, TMS, and inventory management systems, can provide additional benefits for retail and wholesale distributors. This integration allows businesses to optimize their supply chain operations, better manage their inventory, and, ultimately, satisfy their customers.

How do e-commerce businesses benefit specifically from WMS?

WMS offers benefits to e-commerce businesses in the form of:

  • Streamlined order fulfilment
  • Inventory management
  • Increased inventory accuracy and visibility
  • Integration with e-commerce platforms to keep stock updated
  • Streamlined order processing
  • Optimization of handling high-priority items
  • Real-time inventory visibility
  • Cross-channel stock availability reporting

Moreover, businesses like:

  • ShipHero
  • Edge
  • ShipBob
  • WooCommerce
  • Magento

Have all experienced positive outcomes from utilizing WMS. By implementing a WMS, e-commerce businesses can optimize their warehouse processes and enhance their customer service and satisfaction.

What considerations should businesses have when choosing a WMS?

In the process of selecting a WMS, businesses should assess factors like:

  • Scalability: essential to accommodate the evolving requirements of a growing business
  • Integration capabilities: ensure a smooth data exchange and real-time information between the WMS and other systems
  • Industry-specific features: provide tailored functionalities that best suit the unique needs of a business

Additionally, businesses should consider the deployment models for WMS software, such as on-premise or cloud-based solutions. Each deployment model has its advantages and drawbacks, and it is crucial for businesses to carefully evaluate their options based on factors such as pricing models, hardware requirements, and support needs.

5 Best WMS Software Providers

Within the WMS landscape, certain software providers distinguish themselves as the industry’s best. These top 5 WMS software providers include:

  1. Desmart
  2. Körber
  3. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
  4. Acumatica
  5. Epicor ERP

Each of these providers offers a unique set of features and capabilities, catering to businesses of various sizes and industries. Each of these will be examined in more detail.

1. Best Custom WMS Software: Desmart

Desmart offers a comprehensive suite of custom WMS software tailored to the specific needs of businesses. With its user-friendly and intuitive design, Desmart can integrate with other systems and applications, making it an ideal choice for businesses that require a customized WMS solution.

Desmart offers a dedicated WMS software system tailored to a company’s needs. Thanks to its user-friendly and intuitive design, Desmart can integrate with other systems and applications, making it an ideal choice for companies that require a customised WMS solution.

It is a scalable, stable and secure WMS for an online shop managing its own warehouses or for an organisation with a similar structure.

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2. Best for Standalone System: Körber

Körber is the premier standalone WMS system, offering end-to-end solutions to meet consumer demands and address logistics challenges. Its features include:

  • Cloud-based infrastructure for scalability and flexibility
  • Suitable solution that integrates various technologies across the warehouse
  • Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for efficient movement of goods
  • Voice-picking systems for improved accuracy and productivity

With a user-friendly interface and customizable features, Körber has become a top choice for businesses seeking a standalone WMS solution.

3. Best for ERP Module: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers a WMS module within its ERP solution, providing warehouse management capabilities for manufacturing, distribution, and retail companies. The WMS module integrates with other Dynamics 365 applications and systems using APIs, streamlining warehouse processes and improving inventory management.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central’s WMS module has been met with positive reviews, with many users finding the interface user-friendly and straightforward.

4. Best for Cloud-Based: Acumatica

Acumatica provides a powerful and flexible cloud-based WMS that can streamline business processes and increase accuracy. With real-time visibility into inventory levels, locations, and movements, Acumatica enables businesses to track their inventory effectively. Moreover, its WMS can be easily tailored and scaled to meet the evolving requirements of a growing business.

Acumatica’s cloud-based WMS is an excellent choice for businesses seeking a scalable and easy-to-implement solution by providing a host of features such as streamlined picking, receiving, and inventory put-away.

5. Best for Supply Chain Module: Epicor ERP

Epicor ERP offers a WMS module as part of its supply chain management suite. With its comprehensive suite of features that can be customized to suit the requirements of a business, Epicor ERP is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. It can integrate with other systems and applications, providing a unified solution that integrates various technologies across the warehouse, such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and voice-picking systems.

Epicor ERP’s WMS module is an ideal choice for businesses seeking a robust and versatile solution for supply chain management.

Who created WMS?

WMS’s inception aimed to optimise warehouse operations and enhance supply chain efficiency. The primary challenges that led to the development of WMS were:

  • Inaccurate inventory information
  • Inefficient space utilization
  • Inadequate labor management
  • Rudimentary processes
  • Seasonal demands

J.C. Penney, a clothing retail company, was the first to implement a WMS.

Since its creation, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have seen significant developments. The first generation of WMS was developed in the 1970s with the emergence of computers and mainframes. These early applications were built on centralized, character user interface, mainframe-based systems. WMS has since transitioned from traditional, manual processes to more advanced and sophisticated systems.

In 1975, real-time WMS was introduced, revolutionizing warehouse stock management. As the needs of warehouses and logistics operations continue to evolve, so too does WMS.

Which are the three most used picking systems in warehousing?

Wave picking, zone picking, and batch picking are the three most widely used picking systems in warehousing. Wave picking is an order fulfilment strategy that involves grouping orders based on similar criteria and picking them in waves. It is a popular choice due to its ability to align order picking schedules with other warehouse processes, leading to enhanced efficiency and productivity.

Zone picking, on the other hand, involves dividing the warehouse into distinct sections or zones, with each zone assigned to an individual order picker. This approach facilitates efficient and organized picking, as each picker is responsible for items within their designated zone, thus reducing travel time and boosting productivity. Effective yard management can further enhance this process by optimizing the flow of goods in and out of the warehouse.

Lastly, batch picking involves multiple orders simultaneously in a single pass through the warehouse. This method is particularly useful for businesses with a high volume of small orders, as it reduces the time spent travelling between picks and increases overall order-picking efficiency.

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What are the six key elements of WMS?

WMS is comprised of six key elements:

  1. Inventory management
  2. Warehouse design
  3. Receiving and putaway
  4. Pick-and-pack
  5. Shipping
  6. Reporting

These elements work together to provide businesses with a comprehensive solution for managing their warehouse operations. By optimizing each of these elements, businesses can achieve greater efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings in their warehouse and supply chain management.

For example, a warehouse management system (WMS) includes various processes and functions that contribute to the overall effectiveness of warehouse or distribution center operations. These include:

  1. Inventory management: Ensures accurate tracking and control of stock levels.
  2. Warehouse design: Focuses on creating an optimal layout for storing and moving goods within a warehouse.
  3. Receiving and putaway processes: Involve accepting and inspecting incoming shipments, verifying the quantity and quality of the received items, and updating inventory records.
  4. Pick-and-pack: Involves selecting items from inventory and packaging them for shipment.
  5. Shipping: Involves preparing items for shipment and coordinating their delivery.
  6. Reporting: Involves generating reports on various aspects of warehouse operations, such as inventory levels, order fulfillment, and productivity.

By implementing a WMS and effectively managing these processes, businesses can ensure smooth warehouse operations and increased satisfaction from employees, suppliers, and customers.

Can a WMS integrate with other supply chain systems?

Indeed, a WMS can integrate with other supply chain systems such as ERP, transportation management systems, and inventory management systems. Integrating a WMS with other systems ensures a smooth data exchange and real-time information between the WMS and other supply chain systems, providing a comprehensive overview of warehouse operations and business processes.

This seamless integration can greatly benefit businesses by optimizing their supply chain operations, better managing their inventory, and ultimately, satisfying their customers.

What are the security implications and considerations of a WMS?

Considerations of data protection, access control, and system integrity are paramount for optimal security when using a WMS. Data protection in WMS entails safeguarding data from unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction. This can be achieved through encryption, authentication, and access control. Access control in WMS involves regulating who has access to the system and the operations they can perform. This can be achieved through authentication, authorization, and user roles.

System integrity in WMS involves ensuring the system is secure and operational. This can be achieved by implementing regular system updates, firewalls, and other security measures. By carefully considering these security implications and taking the necessary precautions, businesses can ensure that their WMS remains secure and reliable, safeguarding their valuable inventory and warehouse data.

How is AI enhancing modern Warehouse Management Systems?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming modern Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) through the automation and optimization of various system processes. AI can be used to:

  • Monitor and assess risks
  • Automate and optimize warehouse operations
  • Reduce labour costs
  • Improve delivery and customer experience
  • Create a safer workplace

By leveraging AI, businesses can enhance their warehouse management capabilities, improve efficiency, and stay competitive in an ever-evolving market.

AI optimizes warehouse operations in WMS in several ways, including:

  • Inventory optimization
  • Productivity improvement
  • Logistics optimization
  • Demand forecasting
  • Process automation

These optimizations enhance efficiency, accuracy, and productivity, allowing businesses to manage their warehouse operations and supply chain better. With AI increasingly important in WMS, businesses can expect to see even more significant improvements in the coming years.

Which major companies and software systems utilize WMS?

SAP, Amazon, Oracle, and Microsoft are some of the major companies and software systems that utilize WMS. These companies recognize the value of implementing a WMS to optimize their warehouse operations and supply chain management. By leveraging the capabilities of WMS, these companies can improve their inventory accuracy, reduce costs, and enhance efficiency, ultimately leading to better customer service and satisfaction.

Is SAP a WMS system?

SAP offers a WMS module within its ERP solution, providing warehouse management capabilities for various industries. The WMS module integrates with SAP’s ERP solution to facilitate a connection between warehouse operations and other areas of the business, ensuring that inventory levels in the ERP’s Inventory Management solution are kept in line with the warehouse stock in the WMS.

By utilizing SAP’s WMS, businesses can experience a range of benefits, including:

  • Enhanced data capture and accuracy
  • Diminished distribution costs
  • Augmented customer satisfaction
  • Minimized waste
  • Improved inventory visibility

Does Amazon use WMS?

Amazon uses a custom WMS to manage its vast warehouse operations. Known as Amazon Fulfillment Technologies (AFT), this system is responsible for constructing and maintaining the company’s Warehouse Management Systems, including Inventory Management Services.

By utilizing its custom WMS, Amazon can:

  • Optimize warehouse operations
  • Increase visibility into inventory status
  • Automate tasks
  • Resulting in faster order fulfilment and improved labour management.

Is WMS an ERP system?

Depending on the software provider, WMS can be a part of an ERP system. Some ERP systems include a WMS module, providing manufacturing, distribution, and retail companies with warehouse management capabilities.

By integrating a WMS with an ERP system, businesses can achieve the following benefits:

  • A comprehensive overview of their warehouse operations and business processes
  • Optimization of their supply chain operations
  • Better management of their inventory
  • Ultimately satisfying their customers.

Is Oracle a WMS?

Oracle offers a cloud-based WMS solution as part of its supply chain management suite. Known as Oracle Warehouse Management, this system offers material and inventory tracking capabilities to enable a smooth production and distribution process. Oracle’s WMS provides a range of features, including:

  • Warehouse management
  • Kitting
  • Mobile access
  • Manufacturing inventory management
  • Advanced shipping
  • Staging
  • Slotting
  • Warehouse transfers
  • Picking
  • Packing
  • Route optimization
  • Real-time visibility into inventory
  • Asset tracking
  • Warehouse analytics
  • Reporting tools

Is WMS a CRM?

WMS is not a CRM, but it can integrate with CRM systems for better customer service and order management. While WMS focuses on managing warehouse operations and inventory, CRM systems consolidate customer data to enhance sales performance and gain valuable information about the business and customers.

Integrating a WMS with a CRM system can offer notable advantages and enhance productivity in business operations, allowing for improved customer service, timely order fulfilment, and better overall order management.

Does Microsoft have WMS?

Microsoft offers a WMS module within its Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP solution, providing warehouse management capabilities for manufacturing, distribution, and retail companies. The WMS module integrates with other Dynamics 365 applications and systems using APIs, streamlining warehouse processes and improving inventory management.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central’s WMS module has been met with positive reviews, with many users finding the interface user-friendly and straightforward.

Does Amazon use WMS?

Amazon uses a custom WMS to manage its vast warehouse operations. Known as Amazon Fulfillment Technologies (AFT), this system is responsible for constructing and maintaining the company’s Warehouse Management Systems, including Inventory Management Services.

By utilizing its custom WMS, Amazon can:

  • Optimize warehouse operations
  • Increase visibility into inventory status
  • Automate tasks
  • Resulting in faster order fulfilment and improved labour management.

Summary

In conclusion, a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is an essential tool for optimizing warehouse operations, improving inventory management, and enhancing supply chain efficiency. With various types of WMS solutions, businesses can select the best fit for their unique needs. Integrating a WMS with other supply chain systems, such as ERP and CRM, can improve business processes and boost customer satisfaction. As technology advances, integrating AI and other innovations will drive the future of WMS, leading to even greater efficiency and cost savings for businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a warehouse management system?

An example of a warehouse management system is Oracle WMS, which helps minimize inventory costs and optimize labour productivity. Logiwa is another example, providing 3PLs, B2B shippers, online brands and eCommerce clients with integrated modules to increase sales and delivery operations.

What is WMS in a warehouse?

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software solution that helps manage daily warehouse operations, from when goods and materials enter to when they leave. It offers visibility into inventory and manages supply chain fulfilment operations for optimal efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

How does a WMS integrate with other supply chain systems?

A WMS can integrate with other supply chain systems, allowing for data exchange and real-time information to ensure a smooth workflow.

What are the key features of a WMS?

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) offers key features such as inventory management, warehouse design, receiving and putaway, pick-and-pack, shipping, and reporting, making it a valuable tool for warehouse operations.

What are the different types of WMS solutions available in the market?

There are three main types of WMS solutions available in the market: standalone systems, ERP modules, and supply chain modules.

Is WMS an API? 

No, WMS is not an API.

What is a WMS database? 

WMS database refers to the data storage component of a Warehouse Management System, where information about inventory, operations, and other warehouse activities is stored.

Is WMS cloud-based?

Yes, WMS can be cloud-based.

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