Warehouse Management System vs Enterprise Resource Planning

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WMS vs ERP Software System

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is mostly used to manage the storage and the movement of inventory. The system tracks the movement of every stock item such as the item received, picked, packed, and shipped. The main difference between WMS and ERP is that WMS systems offer optimization of inventory on the basis of real-time information. Information can be generated to show the best location for every item to be put based on historical trends and data. Moreover, WMS are usually standalone systems, needing other modules such as accounting and customer relationship management.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software, on the other hand, automates the activities across all the departments in an organization including accounting, customer relationship management, and inventory management. ERP software mainly facilitates the flow of information among all functional areas. ERP software has most of the capabilities of WMS software like tracking the course of inventory items picked, packed, and shipped. ERP software is an integrated all-in-one solution. It is important to note that it is counter-productive to have more than one software application running your operations. This is because multiple applications decrease efficiency and productivity through duplicate entries and rekeying errors.

Making the Choice

Not many supply chain decisions affect the daily operations, customer relations, and the financial health of your business more than choosing and implementing the right inventory management system. The big question is whether to choose the warehouse module of your ERP System or a specialized best-of-breed WMS.

Nowadays, the differences between traditional Enterprise Resource Planning and Warehouse Management System providers are blurring. Many ERP vendors are increasing the capacities of their system’s functionality while most WMS vendors are adding supply chain visibility and other management capabilities.

If Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) have to choose between a new WMS and sticking with an existing ERP functionality, they will certainly choose the latter. The Chief Operations Officer (COO) on the other hand, looks for systems that are adaptable, multi-functional, and risk-averse- which means choosing a best-of-breed WMS. If it is the Chief IT Officers (CIOs) making the decision, they are most concerned with the current workload, the skills of their IT staff, and existing hardware investments. But the WMS/ERP decision is more complicated than who is in charge of the budget. It is a combined effort that balances the goals of finance, IT, and operations with those of the entire organization. The selection process has to focus on enhancing business value and delivering important performance goals. Two considerations are crucial: clearly and comprehensively defining the long-term goals of your business and functional requirements; and matching the goals against the implementation and the integration costs.

Many companies wrongly suppose that implementing a current warehousing module in their ERP system is inexpensive. But this is far from the truth. Just ask anyone who has tried to follow this process. You also cannot assume that the warehouse module will securely integrate with the other components of your ERP system, leave alone other details like materials handling equipment. Check these factors: what is the cost on workarounds to compensate for absent functionality? What is the likely impact on customer relations? You may realize that the free warehousing module that comes with your ERP is not actually free after all.


ERP systems are founded on transaction-based logic, for example in financial and order management systems. ERP systems are best suited for linear environments with chronological operations and limited exceptions. If your business is vulnerable to constant priority changes, your best option is a Warehouse Management System that is focused on real-time operations.


ERP warehouse modules conventionally force important operational compromises in intricate operations. Some Enterprise Resource Planning systems are also not through in-depth product tracking. If your operations are complex, you may require the improved functionality of a best-of-breed WMS.


Eventually, it is the value of the system that should determine your final decision. Sticking with the module in your ERP system may be a short-term solution, but what about its value as your business expands? It is vital to consider the tough question in your return on investment (ROI) analysis: how much do you lose or gain by not investing or investing in a best-of-breed WMS solution?

Organizations with a heavy supply chain component face a major dilemma. The organization has to make a decision between using the WMS module that comes with their ERP software or purchase a more vibrant, best-of-breed WMS package.

Here, too, there is no perfect solution. It all depends on the operations of your business, your future goals, and your financial situation of course. Less obvious but nonetheless essential are factors such as ease of integration into other systems, the likely impact on customer relationships, and the cost of workarounds in case the WMS does not have the desired functionality.


Both the ERP and the Warehouse Management Systems are important components of supply chain management designed to help organizations manage their inventory in the best way possible. They provide information based on real-time data in a number of ways and can be kept on the cloud and on a server. Each of the systems and modules has a price, starting from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands. Not every warehouse requires a WMS- they are complex and the initial and recurrent costs are rather high. There are various levels of inventory management systems and it is important for an organization to understand its needs when choosing a particular system over another.

If you are currently running Sage Intacct or QuickBooks and would like to schedule a free consultation to see if QStock Inventory is right for you as your next potential Warehouse management system, Contact Us Today by filling in the form below. We would love to hear about your business and how QStock can help you achieve your business goals.

QStock Inventory

QStock offers Warehouse Control, Integrated Shipping, eCommerce, ASNs, Commercial Invoices, Customer Portal, Drop Ship, Lot & Serial Track and Trace, Work Order, with compliance label printing from FDA UDI compliance to SSCC-18 Labels.

Justin Velthoen

Justin Velthoen

Justin Velthoen has 20 years of supply chain experience, from food distribution to manufacturing, to systems management and implementation. His primary focus is helping businesses realize the cost savings directly to their bottom line.

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QStock Inventory

QStock offers Warehouse Control, Integrated Shipping, eCommerce, ASNs, Commercial Invoices, Customer Portal, Drop Ship, Lot & Serial Track and Trace, Work Order, with compliance label printing from FDA UDI compliance to SSCC-18 Labels.

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