Investments in warehouse management systems are surging as a result of the boom in e-commerce.
Global investment in Warehouse Management System (WMS) platforms surged from US$2.3 billion in 2019 to over $2.5 billion in 2020, showing an eight percent year-over-year growth, according to a new study by ABI Research.
The biggest investment in WMS has come from logistics service providers, who spent over $636 million last year. Investments in retail and food and beverages follow suit with $509 million and US$483 million respectively.
According to ABI Research, worldwide WMS market revenues will have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 23 percent from 2021 to 2030 and will exceed $10 billion in revenues by 2030.
“Companies are starting to combine the value of multiple hardware and software solutions. Productivity technologies can achieve far greater return on investment if combined correctly with other technologies,” said Adhish Luitel, industry analyst, supply chain management and logistics at ABI Research.
“For example, by combining location tracking data with a voice solution, warehouses using a WMS can optimize workflows by minimizing distance traveled based on a worker’s whereabouts.”
The boom in demand for WMS has prompted numerous innovations in warehouse management. Advancements in data collection and tracking allow more insights into warehousing operations, as well as boosting predictive analytics.
Operators can now deploy Machine Learning (ML) algorithms that capture the data and give insights in real time. A wider adoption of blockchain will allow the supply chains to become more connected, accountable, and visible. Blockchain applications within WMS could fully streamline workflows and link them all together via encryption to ensure comprehensive security.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is another exciting development. It combines the use of software, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and ML to create a much faster way of completing inventory management tasks like picking up or putting back items onto shelves.
“There is also a need for warehouse operators to formulate a strong inventory management strategy. Inventory management is becoming an increasingly crucial pillar of supply chain management. Ensuring that workers can access the right technology to monitor inventory efficiently is important, but automated solutions for inventory management should also be explored,” Luitel added.
Play nicely together
Similarly, technologies do not just have to integrate well with the WMS platform, they also need to add value when using other types of technologies. Vendors that develop solutions that integrate well with various levels of automated processes and technologies will be most likely to achieve long-term success, ABI suggests.
As a sign of the growing maturity of the WMS market, a wide number of leading vendors such as Manhattan Associates, Oracle NetSuite, Blue Yonder, Ehrhardt Partner Group (EPG), and Mantis offer end-to-end solutions.
“Vendors should be ensuring that they have a well-developed partner network and integration strategy relating to complementary technologies. Technology vendors and solution providers should be paying close attention to indoor Real-Time Location System (RTLS) providers,” Luitel concludes.