Monolithic vs. WMS

It’s an age-old mistake. When comparing supply chain software, companies often opt for a monolithic suite vs. a WMS (warehouse management system) that can handle growth (and keep adapting).

In the early days of ecommerce

Technology acquisition was highly reactive. Many brands pursued a “best-in-class” approach to feature adoption.

Your planning software was from a monolithic, single-build supply chain software solution with tightly coupled services, like JDA/Blue Yonder.

Your warehouse was from Manhattan, and you developed your own ERP. 

This was shockingly common. A significant investment went into IT because you owned the servers yourself.

Then, the ‘best supply chain software’ suite was born

In the late 2000s, M&A activity spurred a shift to ‘best-in-platform / best-in-brand’ monolithic supply chain suites. Firms replaced cobbled-together tech stacks with Oracle, Microsoft, Blue Yonder, or mega suites that promised to do everything. 

While it may not be the best, there was a guarantee that it all harmonized, and you only had one provider. You paid for consistency over innovation. You got what you paid for. 

Back then, this model made sense from an IT perspective. You could reduce the need for specialized staff for each solution. You could consolidate the number of deployed servers and slow down technical debt.

As we moved into the mid-2010s

The trend started moving toward open APIs, emerging strong middleware players, and an appreciation for doing one thing and doing it well. 

There was an appreciation that maybe having one firm for both your enterprise accounting (ERP) and your truck scheduling system didn’t make sense because you were only good at two things instead of being excellent at one.

On-demand, open ecosystem SaaS emerged

One of the key features that drives this is the presence of an open-integration mentality when building supply chain fulfillment software. As such, a robust network of a la carte providers penetrated the market, offering a more modular approach to crafting your supply chain system as your business needs grow.


Many firms that did a few things well felt the pinch of being pushed aside for “the new product”. 

  • How many vendors went from their core discipline into a completely new space or took on something exceedingly complex? 
  • How many were successful in that? 
  • How many beloved customer products felt the pinch of development resources pivoted to “the new, shiny object” when the thing they loved (and continued to pay for) was put into “maintenance mode”? 

No one does everything excellently

Many customers struggled with the question of a single vendor doing everything OK vs. a lot of vendors doing a single thing excellently. All signs pointed toward the strongest position to use the right vendor for the task and then link those things together. 

The new mentality is to partner with a warehouse management software provider that delivers what you need from them, but then also introduces you to complementary, out-of-the-box firms that round out the platform. 

Supply chains are incredibly complex beasts

The manufacturing sequencing software, international trade compliance, and WMS all have different must-haves, priorities, and growth trajectories. 

It’s better to pass key information between these systems than to assume OSFA (open source). 

Your ERP wasn’t designed to run warehouse management any more than your transportation management system (TMS) was built for container tracking and customs clearance.

If you’re contemplating monolithic suite vs. WMS, keep this in mind: Get the right tool for the right job, but get your business tools that are comfortable in a toolbox.

Flexibility is essential for growth

The firm you were last year is not the firm you will be next year.

The ‘younger you’ probably had only a slight idea of your present needs and no idea what future problems you would need to solve. 

A WMS provides extensibility through integrations


Turnkey WMS integrations mean you can grow your tech stack at the rate your business needs. No need to acquire solutions before you need them, which keeps both financial and technical debt at bay.

Many companies will start iterative journeys with a Minimum-Viable-Product (MVP) mentality. If you are dispatching one or two trucks a day, a call to the local UPS, or management by spreadsheet may work fine. Once you’re managing a fleet, it’s time to add a TMS. 

Modern WMS systems are built in the cloud. They know the ins and outs of the next likely upstream partners – for example, ERP or WMS. And they make simple integrations a selling point. 

Instead of the default answer being to turn on a module from a big ecosystem player, you can now go with a nimble solution that does one thing; does it well. It is designed to receive data from the systems you already have. You deploy the integration when you need it.

This becomes even more valuable when a new discipline emerges that wasn’t part of previous tech stacks. Look at the emergence of Network Risk and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. These topics were not part of the calculus of core supply chain management until recently. 

WMS companies like Deposco have made scalability their entire mission. Keeping the systems you have, but being able to freely acquire and integrate functionality quickly, will be the differentiator for those leading or falling behind on customer expectations.

Integrations and open APIs

In the previous tech generation, making two supply chain solutions work together was an exceptional lift for the IT team. Integrating on-premise deployments was a nightmare for most teams. It required dedicated resources and expensive consultants to mix datasets never designed to be mixed. 

Some even went a step further and intentionally encrypted their data to make it harder or impossible to do so. It generally had a project timeline measured in years, not weeks. This was defending a brand’s beachhead once it landed.

Now a more communal approach is taken

Today, providers assume they will need to cooperate with a variety of other supply chain solutions to serve the customer’s needs. Some make those available through simply providing the integration credentials for your other vendor. Some provide open and easy-to-use API information and a strong DIY support community. 

Do you go to the hardware store or hire a contractor? Whichever approach you prefer, WMS integrations enable you to link supply chain solutions together with substantially less implementation time and expenditures. The difference between WMS and monolithic suites’ approaches are day and night. 

Solution providers assume that this is now the way and should build their offerings to support it. The benefits of Deposco are:

  • Less risk during implementation and value seen much earlier
  • Rapid integration with existing systems, plus out-of-the-box technical support
  • Continuous addition of new sockets every year, including all shipping carriers you’ll need (not just the big guys) and MHE/robotics integrations
  • Mitigation of ongoing IT burdens – for example, Shopify and Amazon rewrite their APIs at least once a year; what then? Deposco handles all ongoing maintenance and upgrades as an end-to-end solution

Final thoughts

The availability of strong, dependable Internet and cheap, reliable Wi-Fi technology has transformed the supply chain. The recommendation over monolithic suites is to implement an end-to-end WMS and OMS platform. Deposco has built-for-purpose WMS integrations that support 150+ out-of-the-box providers across a variety of supply chain needs from marketplaces to ERPs to last mile and carrier solutions. 

Our focus on growing a customer’s business ensures that we keep a close watch on the core functionality that’s important to them. All while augmenting our supply chain software solutions via introductions to strong players in other spaces when it makes sense.

We can also integrate with the solutions you already use, including ERP and CRM.

The monolithic supply chain software suites and platforms of yesterday were not built to manage ecommerce or drive growth in new channels. Choose a dedicated WMS that’s built for adaptability and savings.