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WMS with Numerous Capabilities Still a Dream for 35 Percent Stuck in Manual Rut, Survey Finds

Many shippers and 3PLs want a warehouse management solution - and one that is quipped with such capabilities as electronic data interchange - yet more than a third of businesses still use paper, pen or spreadsheets as their WMS.

WMS with Numerous Capabilities Still a Dream for 35 Percent Stuck in Manual Rut, Survey Finds

So says research from Software Advice, an advisory firm active across many verticals, which surveyed hundreds of businesses about their warehouse management system needs. Among big business, the research firm found that 72 percent wanted bar-coding capabilities, and nearly one-fifth sought radio frequency identification tracking capabilities.

Thirty-five percent were still using manual methods. Seventeen percent of buyers surveyed sought to replace their existing commercial WMS software, and 15 percent were using software that was built in-house.

Among the 17 percent of prospective buyers who currently use “non-WMS software,” Quickbooks was the most commonly used.

Buyers that have no system in place whatsoever—or that subcontract out their warehouse management to a 3PL firm—fall into the “nothing” category, comprising 14 percent of the sample.

Unsurprisingly, the most commonly requested features among all buyers were inventory tracking (67 percent) and “pick, pack and ship” capabilities (62 percent). Barcoding was also requested by slightly more than half of all buyers. 

Small businesses (defined here as those with $100m or less in annual revenue) made up 83 percent of those canvassed. Large businesses (those with more than $100m in annual revenue) comprised a combined total of just 17 percent.

Forty-eight percent of the buyers were from 3PL firms, and 96 percent of these 3PL firms were categorized as small businesses. On a national scale, however, the 3PL sector is dominated by big players: The top 50 firms generated more than two-thirds of estimated total revenue for the entire domestic 3PL sector.

As a growing number of businesses are relying on 3PLs for their warehousing and distribution needs, smaller 3PLs are gaining more opportunities—but they are also facing much stiffer competition from the big players. Maximizing efficiency is essential in order to remain afloat, so it makes sense that these firms would seek software to assist with this.

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