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Business Strategy: Keeping an Eye on your Competition

When it comes to warehouse management systems, there are many options out there for warehouse operators of every size – models ranging from traditional licensed software to Software as a Service (SaaS) to building a home grown WMS. At SphereWMS, we believe we offer the best solution, as compared to all of the alternatives, but that begs a common question that we see all the time, who are our competitors? It is a basic question with some expected, and unexpected, answers.

I will break this down into three what I would call ‘expected’ answers or categories, and one unexpected answer that creates raised eyebrows every time.

So here are the three basic ‘expected’ answers or competitor groups.

Traditional Big ‘ERP’: Oracle, SAP, etc. Each one of these providers has WMS functionality in conjunction with their core ERP product. Typically, the customer has already implemented the big ERP solution and is looking to extend this into inventory management. We typically find ourselves coming into these accounts when the customer is struggling with the ROI of the additional big ERP cost.

Supply Chain Software Companies: Yes we complete with JDA/Red Prairie, Manhattan, High Jump, etc. We often see them with larger, national & global customers, and in some accounts, we even co-exist with them.

Others: We also see several other smaller supply chain software companies; some are SaaS models, some are traditional, ‘installed’ software, some are focused on EDI, Transportation Management, Shipping software etc. There are several variants of these companies that we complete with on a more infrequent basis.

Ok, so those are what I would call the ‘expected’ answers. However, our real competitor is the good old spreadsheet – yes, Microsoft Excel (I am not kidding).

I would say that 90% of our new business is coming from warehouse operators that are running their business off a spreadsheet: Microsoft Excel. Many businesses find that it is not economical, or in some cases even possible, for them to afford a WMS implementation and instead feel that operating their warehouse using Excel is their only option. Can you run your warehouse from a spreadsheet? The answer is yes. However, there are several risks that we see businesses endure when they do this. Here are just a sampling of things we see:

  • Supplier starts doing business with big box retailer, volumes start to grow rapidly, and retailer’s IT department starts to hit the supplier with EDI and label compliance (something a spreadsheet can’t do). The supplier panics, has to find a solution fast, and eat the cost.
  • Theft of product occurs (think cell phones, or LCD TV’s), ends up being an inside job, and record of inventory is also mysteriously removed from spreadsheet.
  • Customer wants to place orders from your warehouse; you are rushing to provide the customer with latest spreadsheet.
  • Warehouse experiences a natural disaster (this happens more than you think). Spreadsheet containing current inventory is also part of the disaster. Warehouse operator is unable to provide accurate inventory information to insurance company.

As you can tell, operating a WMS using Microsoft Excel isn’t ideal, as your inventory and warehouse management system can be gone or complicated in an instant. I strongly advise you to reconsider what’s important to your business…I’m guessing customer experience is at the core. If so, let me help you continue to deliver an exceptional service only without the time constraints, hassle, and inability of your current WMS.