Standalone ERP vs specialist WMS for warehouse and distribution

Why a standalone ERP isn’t good enough for distribution

If you run a warehouse, there are a number of options open to you when it comes to the IT side of things. Whether you use SAP Business One, NetSuite or something else as your Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) software, you can add a warehouse management module to your ERP.

But compared to best-of-breed WMS systems – like Accellos One WMS – the functionality these modules have just doesn’t match up. On top of that, the other stakeholders in your company – whether they’re the ones using the system, the ones running the system, or the ones who are paying for it – will have conflicting priorities and opinions

So what are the benefits of having a best-of-breed WMS as opposed to a standalone ERP with warehouse module?


From the operations point of view, the need is for the best functionality. The warehouse manager or operations director will want a system that meets their precise, and often quite complex, stock and warehousing requirements.

They will want something that will allow them to meet efficiency targets, speeding up everyday picking and packing to meet KPIs and targets, and ensuring stock accuracy.

There are many ways that a best-of-breed WMS outperforms an ERP warehouse module. As just one example, best-of-breed ERP systems have a multitude of picking rules that can be applied in a business, giving a high degree of flexibility. Conversely, ERP warehouse modules are much more limited in this area.


The IT department is responsible for running and supporting the system. They will be looking for a system that integrates with the other systems they run, and one that delivers a high system uptime, and is easy to implement and upgrade in the future.

Best-of-breed WMS providers have years of experience of thoroughly implementing systems with often complex customisations. With lower levels of functionality on the ERP-based modules, extra customisation is often required to give the company precisely what it needs.


For the Finance Director, it’s all about the numbers. Typically, the upfront cost of a specialist WMS is more than the cost of a bolt-on module from the ERP.

But the finance department also needs to consider cost versus the return. A specialist WMS can save time, staffing costs, and inventory costs. Specialist warehouse management systems bring much improved stock accuracy, and cater for inventory strategies such as FIFO, serialisation and batch traceability, thus cancelling the need to hold additional stock or to have to dispose of out of date goods.


From our own point of view, at Balloon One we have seen the impact that a specialist WMS can have on an operation. We have seen customers save thousands of pounds, speed up operations, and praise the levels of stock accuracy and traceability.

For a more in-depth look at the considerations the directors of a company need to take into account when choosing the right WMS – including a more detailed view of all the functionality differences – please download the white paper: ERP vs. Best-of-Breed WMS – Considerations for the Midsize Company C-Suite.