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Out-Of-The-Box WMS is a Natural Step on the Road to Custom Development


Out-Of-The-Box WMS is a Natural Step on the Road to Custom Development

Sergei Leonov, the head of Axmor’s development department, explains which companies stand to benefit from developing their own warehouse management system.

In my professional experience, I have often come across the following situation: a company is utilizing a popular ERP system yet refuses to use the built-in WMS (warehouse management system) module. How can we account for this? WMS modules are both inexpensive and convenient: vendor consultants are already on board and the system has all the necessary functions to help simplify dozens of warehouse business processes. Typically, the companies that I have described have similar extensive experience working with standard solutions.

An out-of-the-box WMS is a guiding thread for fledgling businesses

Ready-made solutions for warehouse management have a significant number of advantages. As a rule, companies are willing to use them because such systems are an intrinsic part of an ERP system, i.e. they have a ready-made infrastructure platform, resulting in a relatively low implementation cost. In addition, boxed WMSs have debugged and ready-to-use warehouse business processes; thus, you can bypass the trial and error stage when using them as a template from which to build your own. Lastly, turnkey solutions are attractive because of the vast and detailed documentation that exists in the public domain. Furthermore, during the solution’s implementation stage, the company can benefit from the support of highly qualified business consultants: a crucial factor for fledgling organizations.

Typically, problems emerge as the company gains awareness of the limitations that a standard solution imposes on unique operations or their sequence. As the company grows, it requires an agile system, capable of adapting to non-standard ‘outside-of-the-box’ business processes, and the company is presented with a dilemma: shoehorning business processes into the limitations of the current boxed system or customizing the boxed WMS to fit the more demanding requirements. The latter option will result in the system having an increased cost of ownership: the cost of changing the core configuration of the system and modifying business processes is added to the price of licenses and implementation. Improvement costs increase the total cost of ownership by 5 times on average. Another point that increases the overall price of the system is the unused functionality of the box, which is now rendered a ‘dead weight’ and does not contribute anything to return on investment.


It should therefore be noted that at the outset of a company’s operations an out-of-the-box WMS can provide a decent springboard; however, as the company matures, it can also hamstring the growth of warehousing efficiency (reducing time of operations, etc.), when the company’s warehouse operation technology becomes more complex, or when there is a desire to continuously optimize warehouse processes.

A custom WMS is not the opposite of ready-made software

In contrast to an out-of-the-box solution, a custom WMS does not have any restrictions when it comes to further developing its functionality, nor on the speed of development. On the other hand, a custom WMS does not have a ready-made infrastructure, and its development necessarily begins with the creation of an expensive set of basic functions: the ability to work with directories, viewing and editing documents, reports, etc. This infrastructure needs to be created from scratch and integrated within the broader IT system.

The disadvantages, however, are outweighed by the increased freedom of development and the ability to test alterations to business processes both quickly and at low cost. Especially in light of the fact that as the system develops, the cost of developing it will decrease.

As a rule, incurring high initial costs and capitalizing on limitless possibilities for positive innovation, is possible for mature or highly flexible companies; thus, I believe it is fallacious to contrast a “boxed” WMS with a custom system. It ultimately boils down to two fundamentally different approaches to business. For some companies, one approach is preferable due to the increased level of influence over various processes, whereas for another company the ability to generate cost-benefits from experiments and innovations is an intrinsic part of their business model.

Two kinds of companies for which the development of a custom WMS solution makes sense

Business Process Experimenters

Such companies typically operate in highly competitive or dynamic markets. It is reasonable to assert that they make a considerable profit thanks to constant experimentation and optimization with their WMS, since the search for non-standard solutions leads to faster, more flexible, and cheaper operations, or allows them to implement unique, highly sought-after unique services.

For example, a company is constantly refining the process of goods intake in order to make it faster and to avoid additional recounts. For this purpose, several options are considered in order to eventually arrive at the optimal one: storekeepers can simultaneously manually input data into the desktop system, they can use a mobile application, or they can use a barcode scanner. If a company wants to test all of the possibilities listed above and include them in a standard solution, it would be more expensive, time-consuming, and would meet with resistance from the vendor. In short, it would, in the vast majority of cases, be completely unfeasible.

It should be noted that companies need to be ahead of the competition in case they fall foul of new government initiatives concerning industry regulations. Increasingly, goods from all sectors find themselves subjected to new requirements, often entailing the capital restructuring of warehouse and logistical processes. Companies working with boxed WMS are left at the mercy of both the developer and the vendor as necessary alterations are developed and implemented. For a company that prides itself on agility and flexibility, this loss of valuable time is potentially catastrophic.

Companies that have analyzed the cost-effectiveness of their limitations

These companies have significant experience working with various standard solutions, which at the initial stage of their history helped them to build business processes in accordance with internationally recognized best practices and contributed towards the company’s growth. In time, however, the limitations of the system began to negatively affect the company as a whole and the cost of WMS and the lack of flexibility started to obstruct optimization. The characteristics of the warehouse evolve, new loading and robotic equipment appear on the market, bringing with it the need to increase automation. The necessary changes cannot be quickly implemented using an out-of-the-box warehouse accounting system. When one small inconvenience of the system is scaled to a hundred employees, each subsequently performing 50 unnecessary operations, the efficiency of the warehouse decreases.

With this comes awareness of the cost of limitations. The real price that the company pays for tolerating the inconveniences caused by the “box” is estimated. At this point, it is already possible to assess how justified/expensive/risky/profitable/cheap it would be to create a custom-made system, and in addition, it is possible to understand what features the custom system should contain.

The experience of such companies shows that it is not always correct to contrast the boxed and custom WMS, because the second is often impractical without the first, and without having lived through the limitations of the standard solution, it is unlikely a company would invest time and money to remove these restrictions.


Sergei Leonov is the Head of Development at Axmor with 19 years of experience in software engineering. He enjoys Arduino and is building a smart home in his spare time.

ecommerce shipping

Ecommerce Shipping Guide 2020: All You Need to Know

This year, the ecommerce shipping industry is adapting automation and other efficiency-boosting tech tools for a 360-degree transformation. The shift in trends that began in 2019 is only going to pick up pace this year, with two of the most important trends of automation and scaling globally gaining impetus.

In 2019, 79% of US ecommerce shoppers said that free shipping would make it more likely for them to buy things online.  53% of users abandon the cart because of hidden costs like shipping, tax, etc. That’s how important shipping is for ecommerce sales.

So what changes should you be prepared for in 2020 when it comes to shipping?

What do you need to know about ecommerce shipping?

These are some of the questions we aim to answer through this guide.

A Step-Wise Peek Into the Ecommerce Shipping Process

Step 1 – Understanding a shipment

The most basic thing you need to understand is what constitutes a shipment. A shipment can be one thing or multiple things, created as a result of an order placed by a customer through online channels. One order might have multiple shipments too.

Step 2 – Using a shipping management software

Managing an inventory, especially when you are listing your products or services on multiple platforms, is a must. Using shipping management software keeps you organized. It also helps you check the status of every order in real-time.

Step 3 – Choosing your shipping carrier

There are a host of shipping carriers that are preferred by ecommerce companies like UPS and FedEx, among others. Therefore, compare the costs, the insurance, the delivery times, and the network of a shipping carrier before choosing one.

Step 4 – How to ship?

What is the most effective shipping method for you? By air, sea, or road? Ascertain this.

Step 5 – Determining whether to ship globally or locally

Will you be taking orders from international customers, or will you be shipping only in your city, state, or country? Answering this question will help you streamline the process.

Step 6 – Tracking & communication

Your work only begins once you have shipped an order; it does not end there. Customers prefer to have constant communication about their orders through tracking. Until the product is delivered, your job is not done.

Step 7 – Packaging and labeling

Incorrect labeling or inefficient packaging can cause damage or loss. Also, a badly packaged product negatively affects brand reputation.

Step 8 – Calculating costs

Shipping costs are one of the most important heads in your company’s balance sheet. Consider the factors like shipping methods, package dimensions, third-party-logistics, etc. while calculating the costs.

Step 9 – Knowing the regulations

You have to check the rules and regulations for all the countries or states you are shipping to. Some products cannot be shipped, while some need to have accompanying documentation, especially when you are shipping globally as they pass through customs. Know this beforehand.

Step 10 – Auditing & refunds

One of the most important steps is auditing your shipments. Shipping carriers might often overcharge you or levy incorrect fees and charges on your shipments. Automated or manual auditing allows you to claim refunds, making a slight addition to your capital.

Shipping Trends to Watch Out For in 2020

1. Going global

The whole world is a market. ecommerce companies are scaling internationally to boost growth. The demand for non-local products (that gain an ‘imported‘ or ‘exotic‘ tag) is only increasing. About 2.2 billion users are expected to shop online globally by 2021 – that’s your market if you go global.

2. Technology

The use of technology has increased efficiency, revenue, minimized errors and facilitated a better organizational structure. You can use shipping automation software solutions or something as simple as chatbots for your customers to track or know more about their orders.

3. Multi-channel presence

Just using one ecommerce platform like eBay or Amazon is not something online sellers prefer anymore. The new trend is to have a presence on multiple channels to maximize the chances of getting sales.

4. Faster delivery

Shorter wait times and same-day delivery options are what are in demand this year. Instant logistics is a major trend. A survey revealed that 88% of online shoppers are willing to pay for same-day delivery.

5. Personalized and premium packaging

Most ecommerce companies are spending a lot of money on designing the packaging. It works great for branding and says a lot about the company. Offering the users an option to personalize packaging is fast becoming a trend. 52% of customers are willing to make repeat purchases if the online merchant offers premium packaging, while 62% were more likely to purchase from a brand that used sustainable packaging.

The Past and the Present

The evolution of shipping and logistics in e-commerce has been phenomenal, especially in the last five years. The shipping modes, costs, size of warehouses, delivery times, packaging materials are only some of the things that have undergone a change. Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), automation, real-time tracking, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc. have brought about this evolution. And this year, the ecommerce shipping industry is set to revolutionize with about 25% of the world shopping online. Are you ready?


Ana Shan is a product evangelist at, an AI-driven audit service that automatically captures more than 20 carrier errors and helps businesses save up to 16% of their shipping costs.