Other Voices: Do I really need a Tier 1 WMS?

Without question, Tier 1 systems have their place. But for conventional warehouses, a mid-tier solution may get the job done.

Latest News

State of Logistics 2016: Pursue mutual benefit
The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
Get the Right Lift Truck for the Job
RMG Networks partners with Manhattan Associates
Douglas Battery celebrates 95th anniversary
More News

Latest Resource

The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
In this new digital issue, the editors of Logistics Management have gathered four feature articles designed to help mangers break away from traditional, “transactional” relationships and move toward integrated provider partnerships for freight transportation.
All Resources
By ·

Editor’s Note: The following column by Ian Hobkirk, the managing director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors is part of Modern’s Other Voices column. The series, published on Wednesdays, features ideas, opinions and insights from end users, analysts, systems integraters and OEMs. Click on the link to learn about submitting a column for consideration. We invite Tier 1 WMS suppliers to weigh in as well.

                                                                                  ***  ***  **
Do you really need a Tier 1 WMS? We asked ourselves this question recently and did a little research to confirm some thoughts that Commonwealth has had for a while on the subject.

Companies that are undertaking a WMS selection project often assume out of the gate that they need a top-tier WMS system and limit their search to a handful of these providers. Make no mistake – many companies with complex distribution needs and high throughput requirements may require a new WMS from Tier-1 provider. However, for companies with only moderately complex distribution centers, our research shows that the mid-tier WMS providers have been hard at work in recent years, developing features and functionality that can fill these needs.

Commonwealth recently surveyed three mid-tier WMS providers – two of which offer SaaS WMS systems and one which offers a traditional licensed WMS. (The SaaS model allows companies to avoid an upfront licensing fee and simply pay a monthly usage fee for the software). We asked them about 30 specific functionality points to see if these were now offered as standard functionality, and – perhaps more importantly – whether they have customers actually using these features and breaking them in.

We found that a number of features which were previously unavailable in mid-tier WMS are now solidly within these providers’ offerings. Some of this functionality includes the ability to cluster pick, the ability to slot the same SKU in multiple locations in the same zone, advanced lot control and serialization, country of origin tracking, advanced replenishment capabilities, and cartonization. There were a few features that are still not well developed by mid-tier WMS providers such as the ability to perform clustered put-away, task interleaving and some areas of movable unit tracking.

Our key take-away is that companies are properly advised to consider providers from a mix of functionality tiers in their WMS selection projects. The relatively large number of providers and lack of consolidation in the vendor community in the last five years gives companies a wide selection of choices that they should take full advantage of.


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The Benefits of Shared Transportation & Supply Chain Networks
In this new digital issue, the editors of Logistics Management have gathered four feature articles designed to help mangers break away from traditional, “transactional” relationships and move toward integrated provider partnerships for freight transportation.
Download Today!
From the August 2016 Issue
A growing number of low-cost lift trucks offer new avenues for pairing equipment and applications, but less cautious buyers might find that small up-front costs come at a steep price. Selecting the proper lift truck, lift truck tips 2016, Choosing the right Lift Truck
Megatrends in ocean freight
Ocean Cargo Roundtable: What’s in store for 2017?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...

Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....
Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...