What is the cost of a WMS?

Highly variable costs…

It is necessary to count between 25 K€ and 250 K€ (or more) to acquire a WMS. And the implementation time (study, layout, training, start-up) can range from 3 months to 15 months depending on the complexity of the needs and the diversity of the logistics flows to be covered.

Of course, it is not only the cost of the WMS software and the integration service that must be taken into account, but also other direct costs to be charged to the project, mainly:

  • The costs of purchasing and setting up portable equipment (labelling machines, PDAs, scales, etc.),
  • The costs of developing IT interfaces (ERP, TMS, OMS, etc.),
  • The (additional) costs of purchasing computer equipment (PC, server, etc.),
  • WIFI installation costs in the warehouse.

Most publishers offer an implementation cost (or “build”) and an operating cost (“run”), the latter including both a software usage fee (monthly and based on the number of users and the number of options activated), often in “SaaS” (Software as a Service) mode, as well as the associated curative and evolutionary maintenance.

It should be noted that, compared with so-called “On Premise” solutions, SaaS mode avoids investing in costly IT infrastructure (with the associated maintenance). The SAAS mode with hosting by a third-party service provider also facilitates updates and allows you to benefit from developments. The SaaS solution thus provides a “variability” of costs (OPEX versus CAPEX) which is particularly valuable for logistics providers.

CAUTION: The temptation to take second-hand equipment, to recover equipment already present in the warehouse or to buy one’s own references from a broker may prove counterproductive in the end, since this equipment is not always approved by the WMS publisher. The equipment recovered may not be covered by a maintenance contract ensuring standard replacement in less than 24 hours, for example.

What internal resource(s) should I plan?

The time spent internally working on a WMS implementation project is far from negligible.



  • Collecting information in the field,
  • Meeting to carry out studies,
  • Making purchases (materials, consumables, additional services, etc.),
  • Making progress reports with the service provider and internally,
  • Steering computer adaptation work (software and infrastructure),
  • Updating the data that will be injected into the WMS (particularly the item sheets and the location file, which require a lot of exact data),
  • Reorganise its storage facilities and carry out inventory checks,
  • Training, practising the solution and passing on this knowledge (operating procedures, etc.),
  • Communicate internally and externally,
  • Provide assistance during the first few days of the WMS start-up.

Some integrators mention in their quotation, time estimates by project phase, or even by type of resource:

  • On the provider side: time of project manager, developers, trainer, etc.
  • On the client side: time of project manager, project team, Key Users, End Users, etc.

It is usual to take (at least) :

  • A ratio of “1 to 1”, between the days spent by a project manager on the client side and those on the integrator side,
  • And a ratio of “1 to 0.5” for each member of the project team.

How to calculate the return on investment with a WMS?

By definition, this involves calculating the total cost of acquiring a WMS, i.e:

  • In “Build” phase: the costs of purchasing the licence and implementation (i.e. external costs in terms of purchasing services and internal costs in terms of time spent by the teams), the costs of purchasing hardware, the costs of adapting the IT system, and the costs of IT infrastructure,
  • Then in “Run” phase (or operation): the costs of fees and maintenance.

… to compare them with the gains that this investment will generate:

  • Time saving, reduction of stocks, control of handling equipment, optimisation of human resources, reduction of musculoskeletal disorders and preparation errors…

It should be noted that operational logistics consultancies have cost and profit ratios that can help decision-makers to decide.