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Warehouse Logistics Software – Do WMS and WES Compete or Complement?

Who knew operating a warehouse would require learning so many acronyms? From WMS to ERP to WES, it can be challenging to figure out which systems and warehouse logistics software you need for successful warehouse management and to grow your business.

We often get asked the difference between warehouse management systems (WMS) and warehouse execution systems (WES). Do you need both? Can they work together? Which one do you need if you are running a smaller operation?

Keep reading to learn more about WMS, warehouse logistics software, WES and which one is right for you.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  1. Understanding Warehouse Logistics Software and Defining Warehouse Management Systems
  2. Defining WMS
  3. Defining WES
  4. Main Features of WES
  5. Main Features of WMS
  6. How do I Choose a Warehouse Logistics Software and System?
  7. FAQs

Understanding  Warehouse Logistics Software and Defining Warehouse Management Systems

You may hear the term warehouse logistics software thrown around, and it is often used interchangeably with WMS, or warehouse management software. Both WMS and WES can be considered types of warehouse logistics software, but WMS and WES have some subtle differences. 

The simplest way to describe the difference between WMS and WES is this:

Warehouse management systems control inventory flow into, within, and out of your warehouse or distribution center. Warehouse execution systems can direct the processes inside your warehouse to ensure your products move in the most efficient way possible.

Warehouse logistics and operations are the most important part of warehouse management. Understanding all the moving parts is crucial. Let’s dig a little deeper to explore the differences between the two.

Defining WMS

Warehouse management system software consolidates multiple management processes into one solution and keeps inventory moving through a warehouse most efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

A WMS provides practical inventory management to optimize the actions within a given workflow. If it impacts your warehouse or fulfillment center operation, a WMS will have a record of it. That includes inbound and outbound processes.

Defining WES

Warehouse execution systems can essentially be described as “WMS lite,” with functionality to direct processes within your warehouse. Once inventory is inside your warehouse, a WES can take over, working in real-time to organize, sequence, and synchronize your warehouse resources, from people to equipment used to get your inventory back out the door.

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Main Features of WES

As mentioned above, a WES can direct all the processes inside your warehouse. It can manage all of your warehouse resources, including material handling equipment, devices such as scanners, and employees with real-time functionality. A warehouse execution system is reactive. It ensures orders move through your warehouse in a continuous flow based on the completion of a previous step.

For small- and medium-sized operations, WES might be the ideal choice for you because it can help manage fulfillment to both consumers and stores. But once your retail chain grows, you will likely need a more advanced inventory management system.

WES can help with several tasks:

  • Basic receiving
  • Shipping management
  • Replenishment management
  • Inventory management
  • Automated picking management

However, WES can’t help with some tasks:

  • Supply chain integration
  • Transportation management
  • Reverse putaway
  • Order management

Main Features of WMS

A warehouse management system manages all inbound and outbound warehouse processes and everything in between:

  • Ordering to the time inventory arrives at your loading dock
  • Moving items to the shelves and through the picking and packing process
  • Shipping and invoicing
  • Helping optimize all processes in your warehouse to reduce costs
  • Improving employee efficiency 
  • Keeping your clients and customers happy

Many warehouse management systems can integrate with popular e-commerce, shipping, and accounting partners to further simplify your processes.

There are several critical features of WMS:

How do I Choose a Warehouse Logistics Software and System?

Now that we know the differences and similarities between a WMS and a WES, which one is better for your business?

If you’re a smaller operation, you may not need to invest in a WMS quite yet and can start with a WES until you’re ready to grow your business. It’s important to note that a WES will not replace a WMS. Integrating a WES into your WMS will make the latter function even better by ensuring that your equipment and personnel are fully optimized to meet and execute the needs of all your warehouse processes, from inbound to outbound.

At Logiwa, we specialize in warehouse logistics software and management systems. If you would like to learn more about the differences between WES and WMS and discuss which system is best for your warehouse operations, reach out to our team at sales@logiwa.com or request a demo.

FAQs

What is Warehouse Logistics Software?

Warehouse logistics software is software that helps run the day to day operations of a warehouse. It makes processes and systems easier to follow and may be used interchangeably with the term “warehouse management system” or WMS when describing the software that manages a warehouse. 

What is a WMS?

Warehouse management systems consolidate multiple management processes into one solution and keep inventory moving through a warehouse most efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. These systems help make processes that make operations much easier for staff and eliminate human error in several key steps. 

What is a WES?

Warehouse execution systems can direct the processes inside your warehouse to ensure your products get in and out the door efficiently. They can be used in tandem with WMS systems. 

What are the key features of a WMS?

There are many key features of a WMS. Some are location and item management, receiving and returns, picking and packing, order routing, billing, and creating walking path optimizations. Many warehouse management systems can integrate with popular e-commerce, shipping, and accounting partners.

What are the key features of a WES?

A warehouse execution system can direct all the processes that take place inside your warehouse. It can communicate with inventory and order management systems and the personnel and machinery that perform the physical tasks involved in the warehouse processes, including basic receiving functions, shipping, inventory and replenishment management, and automated picking management.

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