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Types of Warehouse Management Systems 

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A warehouse management system, or WMS, is software designed to manage and optimize warehouse operations. Typically, features and functions of a WMS will include; 

  • Inventory Management 
  • Order Management 
  • Goods-in Processing 
  • Picking and Packing 
  • Real-time Tracking 
  • Returns Processing 
  • Reporting and Analytics 
  • Barcode and RFID Integration 
  • User Management 

There are 4 key types of warehouse management systems;  

Understanding the options available is essential to choosing the best WMS for your business. 

Standalone WMS 

What is a standalone WMS? 

A Standalone WMS is implemented on-site and can be built specifically around the requirements for an individual business. Highly customizable, this type of WMS offers full control over the software but it is unlikely to include additional features outside of warehouse management functionality. It can be a good option for smaller businesses that require fewer needs, but it can also be a great choice for businesses with other standalone solutions as it offers better flexibility for integration. 

What are the advantages of a standalone WMS? 

The biggest advantage of a standalone WMS is the flexibility it can offer, but the level of options available will be heavily limited by budget.  

What are the disadvantages of a standalone WMS? 

A standalone WMS can be costly to implement and, as an on-premise solution, ongoing maintenance costs need to be considered as well.  

Supply Chain Modules 

What is a supply chain module?  

A supply chain module can be included as part of a supply chain management software. Having everything included in a single system allows businesses to control everything for the entire supply chain from one place. This can offer an enhanced view of not just the warehouse and inventory, but also external micro and macro influences that could impact the business. 

What are the advantages of supply chain modules? 

The key advantage that using a supply chain module for warehouse management offers is a broad view over the entire supply chain. 

What are the disadvantages of supply chain modules? 

The biggest disadvantage to using a supply chain module for warehouse management is that the software will be built to suit a wide range of purposes and business needs, not just warehouse management. This can mean that features and functionality are broader than requirements.   

Integrated ERP Systems 

What is an integrated ERP System? 

An ERP or enterprise resource planning system will typically include applications that allow companies to manage functions across the entire business. An ERP with an integrated WMS can be a good option for larger scale businesses who are looking for broader operational control. 

What are the advantages of an integrated ERP system? 

The main advantage of an integrated ERP system is the whole view it provides of the overall business operations. 

What are the disadvantages of an integrated ERP system? 

This type of WMS is often a costly choice, with both implementation and ongoing subscription charges being high. Implementation time for an integrated ERP system may take longer than other WMS options due to the customisations required, and this can also have knock-on effects for staff adoption as training requirements will be unique to each business and install.  

Cloud-based WMS 

What is a cloud-based WMS? 

Cloud-based warehouse management systems are hosted online and are maintained and updated by external IT support from the provider. This type of WMS can often be customized using different modules and integrations to suit the business needs. Descartes Peoplevox™ is a cloud-based WMS provider. 

What are the advantages of a cloud-based WMS? 

A cloud-based WMS is installed online, requiring minimal downtime and can often be implemented in a matter of weeks. Costs for this type of WMS will be included as part of subscription payments, so additional resource allocation does not need to be factored in. 

What are the disadvantages of a cloud-based WMS? 

Typically, this type of WMS relies on a subscription model, so whilst support, maintenance and upgrades are generally included without additional charges, costs can add up over time. 

Which type of WMS should you choose? 

It’s important to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each option carefully against the needs of your business. Talk to us about your warehouse management requirements. 

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