How to create the ultimate WMS vendor shortlist

Your initial research has narrowed your selection list to something a bit more manageable. Time now to trim that list to a final WMS vendor shortlist that can meet your requirements, are affordable, and easy to do business with.

Request for information

Create a questionnaire or checklist to send to potential providers. Outline your ‘must-have’ and ‘like-to-have requirements’ and ask for a response that tells you how they will meet those requirements and how much it is likely to cost. Some WMS can be purchased directly from the developer company and from value adding resellers as well.  Send your request to both. You will gain additional insight into the workings of the WMS and can evaluate whether the reseller has enough value added to help your business.

Use this WMS requirements template to ensure that potential vendors have the right features you need

Decide on a deadline to receive information by. If the vendor is truly interested, they should be able to complete your request in a short time. State this deadline in your RFI. Clarify how you would like vendors to reply - you don’t want printed brochures from one and links to internet sites from another. Tell them you want time to evaluate the replies before allowing any over-eager salespeople to contact you.

Ask for information from your ERP provider

Many enterprise requirements planning systems have an optional WMS module. If your ERP provider has a WMS too, you should strongly consider putting them on your WMS vendor shortlist, on the condition that it meets your requirements. It will be much easier to implement and integrate as you already are familiar with the user interface and many of the database tables will be the same ones that exist in your ERP.

Cloud vs on-premise

Many of current WMS are available in the cloud or on an SaaS (software as a service) model. Cloud ERP systems are viable option for many businesses today, especially those looking for flexible, quick-to-implement software. Bear in mind that whilst monthly subscription payments for cloud and SaaS products often make them appear a cheaper option initially, costs can stack up over time. Don’t exclude on-premise systems simply because the startup costs appear more expensive.


Have your whole team read and evaluate the information you receive. Does it clearly and completely meet all your must-have requirements? If you cannot see this qualifier met, store that information in your round file. Next you want to make good comparisons of the usable replies. One method is to set up a matrix with the WMS names across the top and your requirements along the side. Rank each WMS against each requirement with a 1 – 5 scale.  The highest scores will be on your short list to request a proposal - a provider with a five score against each requirement is one that should make it on to your WMS vendor shortlist

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle.

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Tom Miller

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