July 21, 2020

Warehouse management systems (WMS) are an important software tool for any company with inventory management and shipping needs. That includes both third-party logistics providers involved in warehouse operations and e-commerce shippers.

Warehouse management software assists companies and warehouse managers in lowering supply chain and labor management expenses by helping workers with inventory tracking and locating products, inventory management, order fulfillment, and with supply chain planning. WMS software is a key part of shipping and profitable supply chain execution. Choosing the right system for your company is not an easy task, but understanding the functionality and options will help make the decision easier.

Features of warehouse management software

Warehouse management software solutions typically share many of the same features and abilities. They include tools for:

  • Warehouse inventory tracking

  • Eliminating manual data entry

  • Inbound receiving and storage locations

  • Inventory accuracy via barcoding, serial number, and radio-frequency identification tags (RFID)

  • Putaway

  • Warehousing space utilization

  • Order picking and wave picking

  • Kitting

  • Outbound order fulfillment

  • Replenishment options

  • Cycle counting

  • Quality control

Different types of warehouse management systems

There are four types of warehouse management systems. They generally offer the same functionality, but some have more bells and whistles. Others integrate better with a company’s current or anticipated supply chain management solutions.

Standalone warehouse management software:

These software systems are often chosen by a small business to help streamline their warehouse operations. These are the most basic types of warehouse management system, as standalone systems, because they are like a single-use tool. They offer a warehouse management solution that can be combined with other software solutions but they’re sold individually and usually do not include other supply chain functionality like a transportation management system. They basically include inventory management and warehouse operations tools.

Supply chain management (SCM) software:

SCM software is broader, as the supply chain title implies. The warehouse management software solution is just one part. Overall functionality includes an inventory management system, a transportation management system, order management, vendor relationship management tools, procurement, automation of purchase orders information and other helpful tools for warehouse managers and supply chain professionals. A WMS is one of the modules.

Integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems:

ERP systems cover more than just the supply chain, but also human resources, accounting, customer relationship management and vendor relationship management. ERP systems are a larger holistic business investment that help with more than just warehousing solutions. They are integrated systems that bring a number of business functions under one umbrella. If choosing an ERP software application, ensure that its warehouse management system is a good one, since supply chain is not the focus of the ERP.

Cloud-based WMS system:

While cloud-based systems have much of the same functionality of on-premise WMS systems, they often use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. That means they are a subscription model not requiring a large up-front capital investment. Small businesses and large businesses like the cloud-based SaaS model because it’s quick to deploy and easily scalable. The system can be updated without requiring a download or giving a vendor access to the company system. There are usually higher security measures taken as well. It’s a good system for companies using more than one distribution center and with an omnichannel sales funnel.

Whatever system a small company or large business chooses, ensure that it has real-time visibility to retain inventory accuracy for the warehouse space. It should also integrate into other business software applications. At Stord, we help companies with end-to-end visibility from their warehousing partners through transportation. Our dashboard integrates with all WMS solutions to provide clean and easy to read real-time data so the client can focus on what they do best.