Choosing a WMS provider: what criteria should apply?

07 April 2020

In the search for the optimal WMS provider, learning about the company behind the product is practically just as important as researching the characteristics of the warehouse management software itself.

So it’s a good idea to take a moment to look into the supplier and assess it, taking into account the following characteristics:

1. WMS provider’s track record and expertise

Without a doubt, extensive experience in the field of technology solutions applied to the logistics sector guarantees the quality of the WMS. As the saying goes, “the older, the wiser”; in the case of tools such as WMSs, which are so strategic for companies, this rings especially true.

In this sense, the WMS provider’s financial stability and solvency are also relevant; adopting such a system is a long-term solution that requires updates and ongoing technical support.

2. Provider profile: catalog of products and services

If you’ve already thrown yourself into the search for a warehouse management system, you’ll have noticed that there are many different types of WMS providers. Generally speaking, the most relevant are:

  • ERP providers: as we saw in our article on the differences between an ERP and a WMS, ERPs have modules that cover part of a company’s logistics management. Nevertheless, they lack the functionalities characteristic of WMSs, such as specific software for picking or for assigning locations. For this reason, many ERP businesses have expanded their portfolios to include modules dedicated exclusively to warehouse management.
  • Specialized WMS providers: these are firms whose software is developed from a warehouse management perspective. The software tends to be powerful in terms of functionalities, personalization possibilities and integration with other systems. It’s also common to find that these providers have developed modules that respond to the specific needs of a sector (e.g., e-commerce warehouse management) or a particular area of warehouse management (e.g., organization of the operator team).

In any event, it’s necessary to analyze the other solutions and make the most of the synergies that arise. Having a WMS provider that can fulfill the overall needs of the warehouse can be extremely beneficial.

The supplier’s additional experience in industrial racking and automated systems allows you to achieve comprehensive solutions. This simplifies processes, saving you from having to contact and coordinate between several suppliers.

The WMS supplier must have experience in integrating warehouse systems.
The WMS supplier must have experience in integrating warehouse systems.

3. Project management methodology

It’s important to understand the various stages the provider will go through in managing the project as well as the composition of the team in charge of executing it. Finding the right level of cooperation between the customer and provider will determine the success of the WMS deployment project.

A crucial point to consider here is the WMS provider’s corporate culture. Although this value is more intangible than others, it can hold the key to making sure everything runs smoothly. There are clear differences, of course, between working with a start-up and partnering with a well-established, clearly structured business.

4. Success stories and customers with which it has partnered

When you read about the provider’s case studies, don’t just go by brand names:

  • Pay attention to the challenges faced by the companies featured and compare them to your own.
  • Assess the solutions adopted and the adaptive capacity of the provider’s program.
  • Find out about the current relationship between both firms.

5. Long-term perspectives: the next steps

The warehouse is expected to operate with the WMS for well over five years. Since we’re talking about long-term solutions, we should be thinking long-term as well. Some interesting questions include:

  • Following the implementation, will your business be able to make changes to the system internally? Or will it depend on the provider to make any adjustments (at an additional cost)?
  • Will software be kept updated? Or will these improvements need to be purchased from time to time?
  • Does the WMS provider invest continuously in R&D and innovation?

A choice WMS provider

The warehouse management system you’ve short-listed might be a good fit in terms of price and/or functionalities. However, if the provider isn’t up to snuff, the project implementation runs the risk of falling through.

Mecalux has been developing specific solutions for the logistics storage sector for over half a century. Our warehouse management system, Easy WMS, is the result of these ongoing and detailed efforts.

To find out all about what it can do for your installation, don’t hesitate to get in touch: we’ll show you a personalized demo in addition to the advantages it can bring to your company.