Why Warehouse Management Systems Are Essential for Modern Commerce

Ecommerce shipped over $870 billion in goods in the US alone last year. Online retail is forecast to grow over 50% by 2025. This explosion in order volumes is crushing warehouse operations. Inventory that once lasted weeks now sells out within days.

Manufacturers and retailers alike need technology to orchestrate the organized chaos. A warehouse management system (WMS) is mission critical to coordinate inventory and orders.

This comprehensive guide will walk through what a WMS does, benefits delivered, how to select the right software and provide in-depth reviews of 10 leading solutions. Let‘s get started.

What Does a Warehouse Management System Do?

A WMS seamlessly directs inventory from receipt to shipment using data and directives to optimize warehouse tasks.

Key WMS Capabilities

Inbound Planning
Proactively schedule and consolidate supplier deliveries based on open purchase orders to prevent bottlenecking receiving.

Directed Putaway
Analyze real-time warehouse layout and product velocity to assign optimal storage locations to ensure fastest order picking.

Replenishment
Trigger automatic re-ordering and transfer orders to refill forward pick locations so popular products never run out of stock.

Wave Planning
Intelligently group outbound orders by attributes like zip code, weight and carrier to enable efficient batch picking.

Directed Picking and Packaging
Dynamically assign batch pick tasks across personnel based on proximity rules to optimize travel efficiency.

Shipping Integration
Seamlessly connect with shipping carriers to print labels, update tracking status and ensure timely dispatch.

Yard Management
Orchestrate planning of loading dock traffic and carrier appointments for seamless goods intake and dispatch.

Why Implement a Warehouse Management System?

A WMS delivers operational efficiency through orchestration of tasks and real-time planning based on actual warehouse conditions instead of static rules.

75% faster order processing

Algorithms for batching and route optimization means pickers gather more items in a single run. Cross docking also short circuits storage for faster throughput.

99.95% order accuracy

Directed put-away and pick-to-light technology prevents misplaced inventory leading to near perfect order accuracy.

Save $200,000+ annually

Through 25%+ increase in labor productivity. Plus lower safety stock needs with inventory visibility cuts working capital costs.

Buying Considerations for a Future-Proof WMS

With hundreds of solutions to evaluate, focus on platform flexibility, advanced analytics and seamless omni-channel retail integration.

Built to Scale

Prioritize highly customizable solutions allowing easy enhancements to support sophisticated capabilities like cross docking as operational complexity increases.

Data-Driven Optimization

Real-time dashboards into storage density, inventory turns and peak capacity analysis empower continuous operational improvements.

Unified Commerce Needs

With omni-channel retail, WMS should have robust ecommerce integration to associate online orders against warehouse inventory for reliable order orchestration.

Now let‘s explore the top Warehouse Management Systems making waves in the industry.

10 Best Warehouse Management Software Solutions

1. Oracle NetSuite WMS

Part of NetSuite‘s unified cloud platform, it focuses on inventory visibility across the supply chain network. Waveless shipping and matrix item structures help scale omni-channel fulfillment.

Key Capabilities

  • Cross-company inventory visibility
  • Matrix item management
  • Waveless order processing
  • ASN support for suppliers
  • Batch inventory adjustments

Pricing

NetSuite charges per user so costs depend on operations size. Small business packages start ~$1000/month while enterprise deployments cost over $15,000/month.

Ideal For

Fast growing small businesses to large enterprises seeking supply chain wide inventory and order visibility. Also suits manufacturers with complex inventory structures.

Limitations

  • Challenging to integrate other best-of-breed warehouse tech
  • Steep learning curve during initial onboarding

2. Softeon WMS

Softeon empowers high volume retailers and omnichannel brands to scale order orchestration by coordinating inventory planning with dynamic workflows, waveless shipping and real-time visibility.

Key Capabilities

  • Configurable waveless picking
  • Cross docking
  • Real-time analytics
  • Voice, barcode label printing support
  • Yard management for trailers

Pricing

Starts at $6500/month for limited-use license and over $30,000/month for enterprise-wide global deployment.

Ideal For

Third-party logistics firms and manufacturer/retailer distribution centers processing thousands of daily orders will benefit most from the advanced orchestration.

Limitations

  • Challenging integration beyond standard interfaces
  • Steep learning curve to leverage extensive configuration options

3. Cadre WMS

Cadre focuses on adaptable solutions with seamless surrounding logistics tech integration. Especially suitable for manufacturers, grocery and retail DCs thanks to tailored put-to-store workflows.

Key Capabilities

  • Directedworkflows for stores replenishment
  • Cross docking
  • Yard management
  • Shop floor and Quality module integration

Pricing

Starts at $5000 onboarding fee plus $800 per user license monthly. Support is 18% of license cost.

Ideal For

Grocery chains and big box retailers implementing store replenishment programs. Also manufacturers with complex shop floor and equipment integration needs.

Limitations

Industry-specific capabilities less optimized for generic 3PL logistics operations.

4. HighJump WMS

HighJump Advantage focuses on unified cloud platform with EDI support, labor planning tablets and easy custom form deployment to coordinate workflow directives.

Key Capabilities

  • Paperless order processing
  • Dynamic labor planning
  • Custom form creation without coding
  • ASN support for suppliers
  • EDI transaction integration

Pricing

User licenses start $265/month for basic plan to $760/month for their premium solution. Support and hardware not included.

Ideal For

Mid-size consumer goods distributors will benefit from HighJump’s breadth of functionality while also augmenting capabilities via the easy form creator.

Limitations

  • Mostly optimized for Microsoft Dynamics GP ERPs
  • Underserves extremely high volume warehouses processing tens of thousands of orders daily

5. Foysonis WMS

An affordable on-premise option for small operations with directed put-away and optimized picking workflows. Traceability focused for industries like pharmaceutical and healthcare logistics.

Key Capabilities

  • Serial number tracking
  • Batch recall workflows
  • Paperless order processing
  • Directed putaway and picking optimization

Pricing

$109 per user license monthly including upgrades and support. Enterprise pricing tailored to requirements.

Ideal For

Medical equipment distributors get best value from serial number visibility and batch recall capabilities crucial for life science products.

Limitations

  • Very limited native integrations beyond standard interfaces
  • Lacks support for technologies like voice picking and warehouse automation

6. Synergy NorthStar WMS

Focuses on unified workflows for food manufacturing and grocery retail distribution leveraging quality audit workflows and shop floor system connectivity for traceability.

Key Capabilities

  • Shop floor data connectivity
  • Quality control workflows
  • Product genealogy and traceability
  • Custom rule configuration
  • Appointment scheduling

Pricing

Around $5000 per user one-time plus 18-22% annual support. Final cost dependent on custom requirements.

Ideal For

Food manufacturers benefit from shop floor integration while grocery distributors optimize store replenishment with quality audit workflows.

Limitations

Mostly optimized for food manufacturers and distributors instead of general retail order fulfillment needs.

7. 3PL Central WMS

Specialized software for third-party logistics focused on multi-tenant warehouse environments including public storage facilities. Handles complex fulfillment with EDI and shipping connectivity.

Key Capabilities

  • Multi-client inventory visibility
  • Container tracking
  • Grouping products across warehouses
  • Customized B2B billing

Pricing

Starts $250 per user for under 10,000 sq ft facility scaling to over $2000/month for mega-warehouses above 500,000 sq ft.

Ideal For

Third-party logistics firms managing 1 million+ sq ft warehouses for major retailers need the multi-tenant capabilities and flexible billing options.

Limitations

Mostly suited only for 3PLs instead of manufacturing or ecommerce order orchestration.

8. Fishbowl Warehouse

Fishbowl Warehouse focuses on small-footprint deployments providing SMBs seamless integration with Fishbowl Inventory for end-to-end visibility. Directed workflows for picking and put-away streamline cycle counts and order processing.

Key Capabilities

  • Batch tracking
  • Purchase order creation
  • Partial order allocation
  • Directed put-away and picking

Pricing

Bundled with Fishbowl Inventory starting at $3000 yearly for up to 5 users or $999 per user annually.

Ideal For

Small 3PLs and distributors under $50 million in revenue needing essential capabilities at an affordable price integrated with inventory system.

Limitations

  • Very limited native integrations beyond Fishbowl platform
  • Lacks support for technologies like wave planning and cross docking

9. Logiwa WMS

Positioned exclusively for ecommerce, it focuses on unified workflows for batch and wave processing to scale order fulfillment. Integrates analytics for warehouse utilization tracking.

Key Capabilities

  • Batch order processing
  • Wave picking planning
  • Purchase order creation
  • Utilization analytics

Pricing

$279 monthly supports up to 5 users and 10,000 orders per month including unlimited phone support.

Ideal For

High-growth direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands benefit from the wave planning capabilities to handle order spikes during promotions and holiday peaks.

Limitations

Mostly suited for retail ecommerce instead of wholesale order processing needs.

10. Made4net WMS

Built over 25 years specifically for tier-1 warehouses, Made4net leverages highly unified workflows, yard management and cross docking for complex distribution needs.

Key Capabilities

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Yard management
  • Advanced wave planning
  • Cross docking
  • Configurable workflows

Pricing

Typically starts at $150 per user monthly for on-premise deployment with added professional services fees.

Ideal For

Large manufacturers and wholesale distributors benefit from the complex workflows designed for global supply chain orchestration.

Limitations

Higher complexity needs intensive user training. Professional service costs also makes it cost prohibitive for mid-sized operations.

Key Takeaways on Modern WMS Needs

A Warehouse Management System is now mission critical to scale ecommerce order orchestration with efficiency through optimized picking, wave planning and cross docking directives.

However, with hundreds of options, isolating industry-specific capabilities, deployment flexibility and TCO tradeoffs poses an evaluation challenge.

Keep these best practices in mind when investing in a future-proof WMS:

Digitize Maturity First
Ensure baseline inventory management practices are digitized before undertaking complex WMS optimization directives to avoid bad data derailing workflows.

Map Processes
Analyze major warehouse flows to isolate must-have capabilities aligned to business processes so niche solutions prevent overspending on unused features.

Calculate Total Cost
Look beyond license fees to include ongoing support, upgrades, and user training costs over a 5 year horizon to determine ROI feasibility for the business.

With a methodical approach, identifying and onboarding the right WMS accelerates warehouse digitization essential for managing ever expanding commerce volumes in the years ahead.