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What is the difference between WMS and ERP Software?

When advising businesses searching for inventory management software, it is expected to encounter interchangeable use of terms like Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management systems (WMS) software are essential business management tools, each serving distinct yet interconnected purposes. While ERP focuses on integrating various core business processes across an entire organization, WMS is specifically designed to streamline and optimize warehouse operations. ERP acts as a comprehensive solution, encompassing finance, human resources, procurement modules, and more to enhance overall business efficiency. In contrast, WMS zeroes in on a warehouse’s logistics and inventory management aspects, aiming to improve inventory accuracy, order fulfillment, and overall warehouse productivity. Understanding the nuanced differences between ERP and WMS is crucial for businesses seeking to fortify their operations and effectively manage the broader organizational landscape and the intricacies of their supply chain.


Integrating WMS and ERP facilitates seamless communication between the warehouse and other departments, enhancing overall supply chain visibility and responsiveness. This collaborative approach empowers businesses to manage inventory effectively and make informed strategic decisions, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction, reduced operational costs, and a competitive edge in the distribution and wholesale sector.

WMS and ERP software systems are the backbone of any distribution and wholesale business.

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is mainly used to manage the movement and storage of inventory within a warehouse. It goes beyond basic inventory management and encompasses a range of features to enhance efficiency. Key elements include real-time visibility into inventory levels, allowing businesses to monitor stock in transit, track individual items, and manage stock across multiple locations. Advanced picking and packing functionalities, often with the support of technologies like RFID or barcode scanning, enable precise order fulfillment. Modern WMS systems will typically integrate with other business software, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, for seamless data exchange and a unified approach to overall business operations. Automation, machine learning, and analytics capabilities are often incorporated to improve decision-making processes, enhance warehouse performance, and provide valuable insights for strategic planning. A WMS is crucial in optimizing warehouse efficiency, improving accuracy, and ensuring a responsive and agile supply chain.

WMS are often standalone systems to manage warehouse operations, and they lack accounting, customer relationship management, and other functionality associated with an ERP system – thus, WMS typically integrates with an ERP system.

Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software Encompasses a broader range of business processes, integrating various departments like finance, human resources, manufacturing, procurement, supply chain, and more. It offers a holistic solution for overall business management, including financial management, HR management, customer relationship management, and supply chain coordination.

ERP software is designed to streamline end-to-end business processes, providing a centralized data-sharing and collaboration platform. The primary purpose of ERP software is to facilitate the flow of information between all functional areas of a business.

What begins to become confusing is that many ERP systems have many of the same capabilities as WMS software and contain various levels of inventory management and warehouse management features. For example, an ERP system will have functionality for tracking the process of inventory items being received, picked, packed, and shipped and the ability to manage bin and shelf locations, but not be able to make warehouse layout recommendations. If your business requires inventory management, accounting, order entry, and contact management, chances are you are looking for ERP software. Essentially, ERP software will have WMS functionality but on a very smaller scale.

WMS Functionality

Here are some essential features that characterize a robust WMS:

  • Control of Inventory at a License Plate Level (LPN or TrackID Level): A WMS enables precise control over inventory by tracking it at a granular level. Each item (Inventory) is associated with a unique identifier, such as a License Plate Number (LPN) or TrackID, facilitating accurate inventory management.
  • Reservation of Inventory for Sales Orders, Jobs, and Replenishments: A WMS empowers businesses to reserve inventory for specific purposes like fulfilling sales orders, executing jobs, or managing replenishments. This ensures that inventory is allocated in such a way as to drive efficiency in the operation, minimizing errors and delays.
  • Task Assignment to Warehouse Staff: A WMS is pivotal in optimizing warehouse operations by assigning tasks to warehouse staff. Whether it has put away, replenishment, picking, packing, checking, or other operational activities, the WMS streamlines task allocation, enhancing overall efficiency. Our new Directed Task Management module, scheduled for release in Q3 2023, will revolutionize task management by centralizing all work tasks from the current WMS modules into a single queue table. This streamlined approach eliminates the need for warehouse operators to navigate multiple screens, ensuring a seamless and efficient workflow.
  • Real-time Transaction Processing: A WMS is indispensable in a high-volume operational environment with tens of thousands of movements per day. It processes all transactions into SYSPRO live, eliminating the need for batch data uploading. This real-time integration ensures accurate and up-to-date information, supporting informed decision-making.
  • Seamless Integration with SYSPRO: A genuine WMS directly interfaces with SYSPRO’s data, forming a cohesive and unified system. The integration between the WMS and SYSPRO enables seamless data flow, enabling both systems to work in tandem, maximizing operational effectiveness.

ERP Functionality

Here are some essential features that characterize a robust ERP:

  • Functionality picking, packing, receiving, shipping.
  • Barcode scanning and mobile picking capabilities.
  • Inventory location tracking – bin and shelf location
  • Accounting (A/R, A/P, GL, bank management)
  • Order entry and invoicing
  • Purchase orders
  • Contact management
  • Inventory management
  • eCommerce integration
  • Reporting

ERP and WMS are a part of supply chain management and aim to help businesses manage their resources in the most economical way possible. They report information based on real-time data in various ways and can be managed on-premises or in the cloud. Each system and module has a price tag- from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands. Although ERP software will include some WMS functionality, the features provided will not be as robust as that of a complete WMS – however, for small-size wholesale and distribution businesses, ERP software is frequently all that is required.

Warehouse management software can be several times more expensive than ERP software, so make sure you use the correct terminology when speaking with vendors – the need for warehouse management, shipping, receiving, and inventory functionality is different than the need for genuine WMS software. Not every warehouse needs a WMS – they are designed for complex operations, and the initial and ongoing costs are expensive. Many ERP systems have the main functionality of WMS systems at a lower price point. A proper ERP system should be able to accommodate most inventory requirements, including essential warehouse management, at a far more affordable price. There are various levels of inventory management software, and it is best to understand your business needs when searching for systems.

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