The WMS Market

How Can WMS Vendors Be Categorized?

The WMS market is a part of "Software and Electrical Automation", which is a branch of the intralogistics industry. Intralogistics itself is a part of the logistics industry.

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland alone, approximately 130 providers of IT systems can currently be identified as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) in accordance to VDI Guideline 3601. In order to designate an IT system as a WMS, the defining task and service areas defined in VDI Guideline 3601 must be fulfilled.

The WMS providers are recording an average revenue growth of 8% with the distribution of their WMS from 2013 to 2017 (WMS MARKTREPORT KOMPAKT 2018). With the exception of the global economic crisis around 2009, the WMS market has recorded a continuous increase in revenue over the past eighteen years. The assessments of the WMS providers suggest that the WMS market will probably continue to show a clearly positive development over the next four years.

Market Presence of the WMS Vendors

In the first half of the 1980s, the first "WMS" were developed, brought to market and marketed as a product. Some of these WMS vendors are still active in today’s market. In general, it turns out that the typical WMS provider is relatively "old". Looking more closely at all of the WMS vendors, we see that

  • 92 percent of the vendors have been active for more than 10 years,
  • 68 percent have been active for more than 20 years and
  • 27 percent have been active for more than 30 years.

Distribution of the WMS Vendor Types

WMS vendors can be categorized into three types:

"Pure" WMS Vendors

The "pure" WMS vendor only offers WMS and other storage-relevant software (e.g. a Forklift Guidance System, Pick-by-Voice solution, etc.). Normally they have a – usually informal – cooperation with ERP vendors who do not offer a WMS module and warehouse technology vendors whose WMS does not have enough functionality. The goal of their cooperation with other vendors is to increase their product offering and the synergistic effects of the acquisition of new customers.

The software-technical, functional support of the most complex processes of both manual and highly automated warehouses is the core business of the "pure" WMS provider.

Suite Vendors

The suite vendor comes originally from the field of business management and has included warehouse management in its software portfolio at a late stage. The WMS is part of a larger software suite (e.g. ERP/SCM system) and has, in principle, a higher level of integration in intercompany or multi-site modules and functions of the business suite. They sell and market the entire suite although lately the functionality of the WMS module is starting to take the spotlight. The WMS can be used independently, which means that the WMS module does not require the suite to operate properly, but usually any ERP system.

The core business of the suite vendors are still manual or semi-automated warehouses, although more and more complex systems with a higher degree of automation are also connected nowadays.


The integrator originally comes from the metal construction industry. The configuration of electronics became a bigger and bigger part of the automation of a warehouse - especially control electronics such as storage and retrieval machines. The warehouse management systems of the integrators developed from this. One focus of development was naturally on strategies for the control and optimization of storage technology, such as the optimization of double cycles with multiple-depth storage in an automatic small-parts warehouse. As a result, the WMS is generally highly integrated into the control of the material flow.

The Integrator often acts as a general contractor and supplementary offers material handling equipment ("one-stop shop"). The core business continues to be highly automated warehouses with complex processes. Following the increased development of software expertise at the integrators in recent years, there is now a tendency to outsource the software division and to offer the WMS without storage technology.

For further information, we recommend the WMS MARKET REPORT COMPACT.

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