As WMS solutions continue to pour into the market, users struggle to differentiate one system from another — and vendors fight to break away from the competition. Because all WMS products serve essentially the same function, helping businesses manage moving and storing items within a warehouse, vendors are striving to land new customers by providing added functionality and offering compatibility with other types of business software.
Warehouse and transportation management are two different concerns. While many business managers view warehouse and transportation management as separate concerns, the two are closely entwined.
It is hard to manage warehouse inventory if people do not have insight to the stream of items coming in and going out of their facility. This is why a growing number of warehouse management system vendors are adding transportation management capabilities to their products, either in the form of add-on transportation management modules or built-in links to external transportation management system (TMS) products.
SAP, Oracle, Manhattan Associates, and Sterling Commerce, for example, have combined warehouse and transportation management functions together. However, these solutions do have a limited set of integrated functionality.
WMS/TMS integration aims to provide seamless logistics visibility. This capability allows users to reallocate inventory on the fly and meet customer needs without unnecessary disruption or additional costs generated by the need to reroute or reship items.
Warehouse management systems and transportation management integration can improve delivery time for customers as well as achieve as well as additional cost-out opportunities from aggregating and consolidating shipments from a single facility.
The trend toward deeper functionality and wider interoperability has led to more warehouse management system choices than ever before. Yet it has also created a much steeper learning curve for customers.
Every vendor has its strengths, but every vendor also presents a fairly compelling set of challenges. WMS users making this decision face an extremely complicated process.
The expanding array of WMS products, offering varied features and capabilities, has made pre-purchase research increasingly important. Putting in quality time to understand their business and what they want to get out of a WMS is one of the most vital investments the companies can make.