Warehouse management and inventory management are two terms that often seem alike. While the difference in terminology may be subtle, the way the two systems operate is strikingly distinct.
The biggest difference between Warehouse Management Systems and inventory management systems is the focus of their functionality. Inventory management systems are mainly concerned with tracking overall inventory levels and handling replenishment tasks. On the other hand, Warehouse Management Systems are tied directly to the individual components of your inventory, going all the way down to the individual shelves and storage locations, working directly with workers and any equipment you use, and solving intricate warehouse-level problems. For this reason, warehouse management systems are generally more complex and detailed in nature.
Inventory management programs are typically designed to help you effectively manage inventory coming and going, ensuring that replenishment is happening before you run out of stock, and comparing price points on products. By contrast, warehouse management programs are designed to handle the movement of inventory within your facility. How do products get from the receiving dock to the locations? How do your team members know which product is next up in order to comply with FIFO? How do they know which product needs to be repacked or quality inspected? The warehouse management software handles all of these fine details.
By comparing the two systems side by side, it is easy to see that both types of system are important to the flow of business. While the inventory management system handles many of the external tasks relating to inventory, the Warehouse Management System handles internal tasks. Many warehouse management systems also offer some inventory management tools, which makes it easier to integrate them into your warehouse with fewer compatibility issues. This allows you to get some of both worlds in one package.
In fact, you probably already have at least a simple inventory management system in place that allows you to order products based on your forecast requirements. What you may not have already is a Warehouse Management System that offers a streamlined process for getting orders out the door by directing team members to exact product locations, controlling the flow of items through quality check points, and eliminating extra steps along the way. If you are looking for answers to questions inside your warehouse, then warehouse management software is the tool for you. If you are looking for solutions relating to purchasing and managing overall levels of inventory alone, then inventory management software is what you're after.