How to objectively compare two like-for-like WMS systems

Selecting a warehouse management system is no easy task, especially as more tend to share the same baseline features and multiple industry-specific options crop up for businesses like yours. It’s hard to know how to finalize the process in a fair way.

But, don’t head to the dartboard yet.

There are a few things you can review and compare, even when two options seem similar or even reach the like-for-like status in their core features. Here are five of the biggest areas to revisit and where you might find a difference in each.

1. Added features

In a like-for-like situation, you’re typically going to have many of the same features. Honestly, any finalists in your WMS system comparison chart should have all of your must-haves and plenty of options that you’d like to have.

Your comparison here should look at the supported features that you think you might use tomorrow. Get support for your growth so that you don’t need to do another WMS hunt further down the road. One smart point of comparison is how much time or money it takes to turn on those pro-growth features.

Find the WMS features you need with our free WMS features and requirements guide

2. Extra costs

All pricing is not created equal. When you’ve narrowed down your options, start looking deeper into their pricing structures. Ask if you’ll be paying more for support after six months, if there are cost increases for your licenses, what you’ll have to pay if you need more help onboarding, and if there are any hidden WMS costs.

Record all such costs on a single warehouse management systems comparison matrix to help you keep things straight.

3. Implementation time and requirements

Implementation time and costs can vary significantly from WMS to WMS. We always recommend that you get a timetable from vendors and ask their references how accurate of an estimate that is. If your infrastructure is on the older side, or if you lack network access in your warehouse, you’ll also want a checklist of equipment and other requirements to understand what you might need to buy to get your WMS up and running.

Even cloud systems have specific infrastructure requirements that can be impacted by your site and your changing workforce.

4. Integration support

You likely checked that each of the finalists in your WMS comparison matrix supports your ERP or other mission-critical software. Integration is a reasonable demand in this day and age.

The follow-up question here is: what happens when an integration breaks? Does the WMS vendor provide support, or do they ask you to work with the ERP to get things fixed?

You’re paying for a fully functioning WMS. Integration failures can introduce significant problems into your warehouse management and overall supply chain. Look for a partner that’s willing to support you even if the integration error isn’t their fault.

Find someone who will help when you need it, not leave you struggling and losing money.

5. Vendor company culture

If all other things feel equal, start doing some research on each vendor’s company culture. Companies that share the same values as you can indicate that you’ll better be able to predict how they respond to issues and may make your team more comfortable dealing with theirs.

Culture also extends to the vendor’s employees. If one has poor employee reviews online or you notice that most of their sales team has been with the company for a short amount of time, it could be a red flag that something is amiss.

Companies put their best foot forward during the RFP and sales process. Your job is to find the clues that show how they’ll respond when you need help.

6. Picking a winner

There’s no simple equation for finding the right vendor, especially if you get down to like-for-like comparisons. Build out a WMS comparison matrix to ensure that each meets your minimums. After that, rank the extras in terms of importance to you and your business and assign points to each vendor. Hopefully, that weighted comparison will get you one step closer to your final selection.

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting

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