On the Scene at NCOF: Finding the “Sweet” System

Dallas–Deciding between a catalog management system (CMS) and a warehouse management system (WMS) is key to enabling a cataloger to find its operational “sweet spot,” said Ernie Schell, president of Southampton, PA-based Marketing Systems Analysis, during his May 8 seminar at the 11th Annual National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment (NCOF) here. The conference, which runs May 7-9, is cosponsored by “Operations and Fulfillment” magazine (a sister publication of CATALOG AGE) and the Direct Marketing Association.

Price is a key advantage a CMS has over a WMS. Schell estimated that a CMS package for a company with 1 million orders a year will cost $100,000-$200,000, compared with about $300,000 for a WMS.

What’s more, since the CMS “works on a single, customized platform,” Schell said, it is easily adaptable to your business: “As the business evolves, the system grows as well.”

A WMS may be a better choice for more technologically advanced companies, however. Whereas a CMS works on a single platform a WMS is compatible with other systems. Other key benefits of a WMS include its ability to optimize warehouse space; additional pick-and-pack and fulfillment functions; and enhanced radio frequency bar code and paperless options.

“The more automated your warehouse becomes, the less likely it is that a CMS will meet your needs,” Schell said.

As for training employees on either system, “it’s not a trivial issue,” Schell said. “With either system, training will have a significant impact on the return on investment you get. I can’t tell you how many catalog management systems have been crippled by misuse, so training is ever so important.”