A good WMS and TMS helps companies achieve their main fulfillment objectives: Getting the right products to the right customers at the right time and at the lowest possible cost.
While there are differences between the two, the WMS and TMS both support specific parts of that objective.
The WMS keeps costs low by giving warehouse operators full visibility over the warehouse’s inventory. It also optimizes the use of people and space through processes like wave picking and cross docking.
The TMS also helps keep costs low. It does this by helping 3PLs and fulfillment managers quickly select the cheapest route for timely delivery of a product. It also supports other goals like load optimization and carrier selection.
What Are the Fundamental Features of a Warehouse Management System?
Warehouse management systems (WMS) are essential tools for running a warehouse business. When you’re running a small store or an e-commerce brand out of your basement, manual methods like notebooks and spreadsheets can work. But, once you get to the warehouse level, you need WMS software to profitably scale your business.
What Are the Fundamental Features of a Transportation Management System?
A transportation management system (TMS) enables warehouses and 3PL operators to optimize the shipment of goods. When shipping goods to customers, there are countless routes to take and several carriers to choose from. A savvy shipper can get their products to customers on time at a low cost by picking the right carrier and the right route.
Needless to say, shipping is a time-intensive activity - a warehouse manager or 3PL operator doesn’t have all day to find the best route. A TMS optimizes shipping logistics through a number of powerful features.
Which Features Should Your WMS and TMS Include?
Both your WMS and your TMS should provide the following:
- Business Intelligence: If you want to grow your business, you need to continuously improve. And if you want to continuously improve, you need to develop a data-driven strategy. Your e-commerce business, warehouse, or 3PL produces ample data every day. Your WMS and TMS should be able to generate business intelligence reports based on this data. Ask the providers on your shortlist whether their solutions come with a dashboard, data visualization tools, and other business intelligence features.
- Ability to Integrate Into ERP: Ensure your chosen system can integrate into your larger enterprise resource tools, including your order management system and sales channels like Shopify, Magento, or Amazon.
- Cloud Deployment Options: Traditionally, a WMS and TMS would be deployed on-premise. Today, cloud deployments are becoming more popular. They are more cost-effective, more easily scalable, and don’t incur long-term maintenance costs. Plus, supply chain managers can access a cloud-based solution anywhere and from any device.
Should You Integrate Your WMS and Your TMS?
Typically, the WMS and TMS operate separately within an enterprise. When these two systems work together, you can collect richer data about your high-level operations and identify potential cost-saving or revenue-generating opportunities.
For instance, with these two systems connected you can see how trucks are packed and use leftover space to pack more goods on outbound trucks, reducing the amount of warehouse space you use and making the most of your transport resources.
Other benefits of integrating your WMS and your TMS include:
- Opportunities for iterative improvements thanks to richer data about warehouse and shipping operations
- Increased oversight regarding scheduling and workforce planning
- Optimized use of fleet (e.g., drivers, delivery schedules, fuel costs)
The WMS and TMS Are Different Systems Working Towards the Same Goal
Your WMS and TMS are two distinct systems managing different processes within the supply chain. They work together to accomplish the same goal: Get the right product to the right customer at the right time and at the lowest possible cost.
Both systems offer incredible functionalities that allow you to make the most of your human resources and technical equipment. They do this by facilitating tasks like route optimization, cross docking, and wave picking, which help boost your organizations efficiency.
Above all, WMS and TMS solutions allow e-commerce companies, warehouse businesses, and 3PL operators to create and maintain value across the entire supply chain.