Do I really need a Tier 1 WMS? Could a Tier 2 WMS Meet My Requirements?
Do you really need a Tier 1 WMS or could a Tier 2 WMS meet your requirements? 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 a Tier-1 provider. However, for companies with only moderately complex distribution centers, our research showed that the Tier 2 WMS providers have been hard at work in recent years, developing features and functionality that can fill these needs.
Commonwealth recently surveyed three Tier 2 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 thirty (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.
Our research showed that a number of features which were previously unavailable in Tier 2 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 Tier 2 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.
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