Christian M. 8 min read

Supply chain management software

The world has become deeply interconnected through supply chains, and any weak links will increase everyone’s costs. This means that the efficiency of operations at any given point, be it the warehouse, port, or retailer, can make or break businesses.

Supply chain management (SCM) software emerges as a critical tool, harmonising complex operations from raw material sourcing to product delivery. This is not only to increase profits but also to mitigate the risks when critical disruptions happen (think Suez Canal blockage) and to ensure compliance with international regulations.

This article explores the pivotal features, benefits, and intricacies of SCM software, helping businesses navigate through their SCM software procurement journey with detailed insights and expert advice.

💡 Contents

What is supply chain management software?

Supply chain management (SCM) software is a broad category of software tools and systems designed to manage and coordinate a business’s supply chain operations.

SCM can be involved in all production and delivery processes, from the initial sourcing of materials to the final delivery to consumers. It has become increasingly useful as supply chains have become increasingly complex and highly digitised.

The typical features of SCM software

The following functions are that make supply chain management software useful in all aspects of a supply chain:

Planning and ForecastingHelps in planning production and inventory levels based on demand forecasts. Includes tools for demand planning and resource allocation.
ProcurementAutomates procurement processes, manages suppliers, and negotiates contracts. Tracks prices, delivery times, and quality of goods.
Inventory ManagementManages inventory levels, tracks stock across various locations, and optimises stock based on demand and supply conditions.
Warehouse ManagementManages warehouse operations, including storage optimisation, order fulfillment, and shipping.
Logistics and TransportationManages the logistics of moving goods, including route planning, fleet management, and real-time shipment tracking.
Order ManagementManages the complete order lifecycle from receipt, processing, and fulfillment, to shipping and delivery.
Analytics and ReportingIncorporates advanced analytics to analyse supply chain performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

The importance of supply chain management software

Supply chains are like machines made of many interdependent parts. They go from as early in a process as mining ore from the ground all the way to the disposal and potential recycling of a product after fulfilling its life cycle.

We’d all wish it worked like a “well-oiled machine,” but the issue is that the unexpected is common in our world. Storms can keep vessels docked for days; pandemics can close down entire cities for months; employees forget to send important emails; container ships crash against bridges or get stuck in canals, you get the picture.

Therefore, the effectiveness of supply chains depends on how well each part can communicate with one another to adjust for this constant flux of ‘unexpected events’. Enter supply chain management software, which integrates and automates as much as possible to make operations cheaper and more efficient.

If you break this simple ‘communication’ concept into more precise ideas, you get the following reasons that make it important:

EfficiencyAutomates routine tasks, speeds up operations, and minimises human error, freeing up staff for strategic tasks.
Cost reductionOptimises procurement and logistics, reduces delays and excess inventory, cutting costs significantly.
Data-driven decisionsProvides real-time data on inventory levels, supplier performance, and logistics, enabling informed decision-making.
CollaborationFacilitates better communication and collaboration with suppliers, streamlining procurement and improving contract management.
Quality of ServiceManages order fulfilment effectively, ensuring timely and quality deliveries to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Risk managementMonitors and analyses data to identify and manage risks in the supply chain, allowing for proactive problem-solving.
ScalabilityScales to accommodate changing conditions, both managing larger volumes of goods and more complex logistics to disrupted conditions.
ComplianceHelps ensure compliance with regulations and supports sustainability initiatives, such as optimising routes to reduce carbon footprints.

💡Efficiency gains: According to a study by PwC, companies with highly digitalised supply chains and operations can expect annual efficiency gains of 4.1% and annual revenue increases of 2.9%.

Who uses supply chain management software?

Any organisation directly involved in supply chains can benefit from SCM software. Here are examples of organisations in each stage of the supply chain that are probably already benefiting from SCM.

Stage of supply chainOrganisations Involved
Raw materialsMining companies, farmers, forestry operations, petrochemical producers
ManufacturersAutomotive, electronics, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, aerospace manufacturers
Wholesalers and distributorsPharmaceutical distributors, auto parts distributors, food and beverage distributors
RetailersSupermarkets, department stores, specialty stores, e-commerce platforms
Logistics and transportationShipping companies, freight forwarders, courier services, logistics service providers
WarehousingWarehouse operators, fulfilment centres, storage facilities
End consumersBusinesses in B2B contexts, individual consumers in B2C contexts
Recycling and disposalWaste management companies, recycling facilities, refurbishment centres

💡 The global supply chain management market size is projected to grow from USD 28.9 billion in 2021 to USD 45.2 billion by 2026.

What are the types of supply chain management software?

While some supply chain management software incorporates many types simultaneously, no software can incorporate every single functionality in a package. Therefore, most software tends to specialise one or more of these types, but not all of them simultaneously:

TypePurpose and function
Supply Chain Planning (SCP)Helps in demand forecasting, inventory planning, and production scheduling to balance supply and demand.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)Manages warehouse operations including inventory tracking, picking, receiving, and putaway.
Transportation Management Systems (TMS)Focuses on the logistics of transportation—planning, execution, and optimization of the physical movement of goods.
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)Monitors and manages work in progress on the manufacturing floor, including production orders and real-time data tracking.
Inventory Management Systems (IMS)Manages inventory levels, stock locations, and conducts inventory audits to maintain optimal stock levels.
Procurement SoftwareAutomates the purchasing process, managing tasks from purchase orders to payment processes.
Supply Chain Network Design SoftwareModels, analyses, and optimises supply chain networks for effective logistics and operations.
Demand Planning SoftwareFocuses on predicting customer demand to adjust inventory levels accordingly.
Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) SoftwareStreamlines processes between a company and its suppliers, managing information, risk, and collaboration.
Global Trade Management (GTM) SoftwareFacilitates compliance with global trade regulations and manages import/export processes.

💡 The Big Four accounting firms—Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and Ernst & Young (EY)—play a significant role in supply chain management by offering advisory services that help businesses optimise their supply chain strategies and operations, including software implementations.

What should you look for in supply chain management software?

Similar to procuring any software, there are many things to consider when getting SCM software. This includes user experience, functionality, price, customer service, etc:

FunctionalityEnsure the software covers any essential areas your business requires,like procurement, inventory management, logistics, order management, and analytics.
Integration capabilitiesThe software should seamlessly integrate with existing systems such as ERP and CRM, facilitating smooth data flow across systems.
ScalabilityChoose software that can grow with your business, handling increased transactions and complexities without major overhauls.
User InterfaceLook for an intuitive, easy-to-navigate interface that doesn’t require extensive training for effective use.
CustomisationThe software should be customisable to fit specific business processes and needs, offering flexible configuration options.
Real-time analyticsEssential for making informed decisions quickly, the software should offer real-time data capabilities and robust analytics tools.
Mobile access and supportThe software should support mobile access, allowing tasks and data retrieval from anywhere, enhancing operational flexibility.
Support and serviceEvaluate the level of support and training provided by the vendor to ensure smooth implementation and resolution of post-deployment issues.
SecurityRobust security measures are crucial, including data encryption and secure access controls, complying with relevant regulations.
CostConsider the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase, maintenance, support, and upgrades, against expected ROI.

💡 Always test first: The great thing is that you don’t need to decide immediately. Most SCM software has free trial periods so that you can test its functionality and make better decisions to fulfil your requirements, whatever industry you’re in.

What is the best supply chain management software?

At least 184 supply chain management software tools are currently available. Most of them are small startups focusing on the operations of niche industries or optimised to solve very specific problems.

Take, for example, Thrive Technologies, whose software is optimised for wholesalers, who often suffer from stockouts or deadstock due to “blind spots” in their data. Or Quant, whose cloud-based solution is tailored for managing retail space, planograms, shelf labels, and store photo documentation in a scalable manner.

Therefore, the best SCM software for your business depends on your business needs, and Google will be your best friend when finding it.

Best general supply chain management software

Despite this, some SCM software stands out and should always be considered part of the procurement process. We’ve compiled a list of the best supply chain management software in general based on reputable sources such as Forbes, Shopify, Capterra and G2, including their reference prices as of April 2024:

SoftwareBest ForGeneral DescriptionCost
Logiwa WMSWarehouse Management SystemsIncludes features like order management automation and real-time syncing. Built with an open API, it integrates well with other supply chain planning software and e-commerce platforms like NetSuite and Shopify.Starts at approx. £160/month
NetSuiteEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP)NetSuite provides comprehensive supply chain and enterprise resource planning capabilities, emphasizing predictive analytics for forecasting and inventory management. Owned by Oracle and runs on the Oracle SCM Cloud platform.Starts at approx. £800/user/month
NetstockSmall to Medium-Sized BusinessesFocuses on demand forecasting and inventory replenishment, aiding smaller businesses in managing their supply chain more effectively through cloud-based solutions.Starts at approx. £120/month
PrecoroProcurement and Supply Chain VisibilityOffers tools for managing the procurement process and supply chain visibility, enabling departments within an organisation to authorize and approve supply chain decisions.Starts at approx. £15/user/month
Magaya Supply ChainComprehensive Supply Chain ManagementAn all-in-one solution used by retailers, warehousers, and third-party logistics providers. It covers order tracking, warehouse management, and integrates with the Magaya Digital Freight Portal.Contact for pricing
SAP SCMLarge EnterprisesAn enterprise-grade solution offering a suite of business intelligence tools, including AI-powered predictive analytics and integrated planning tools for a demand-driven supply chain.Starts at approx. £1,200/user/month
FreightPOPFreight and Shipping ManagementSuitable for supply chain operations that require freight shipping, integrating with major shipping companies and offering features like transportation management, freight planning, and supply chain analytics.Starts at approx. £80/month
ShippaboOcean Freight and Import ManagementSpecialises in ocean freight deliveries, easing the process of importing goods from overseas with comprehensive supply chain management services.Contact for pricing
AnaplanSupply Chain PlanningPopular Supply Chain Planning tool used by over 2,000 companies globally. Their Supply Chain Planning tool is powerful and is easily integrated with their own CRM solutions.Starts at approx. £120/user/month
Blue Ridge GlobalCustomer SupportPopular due to their supporting "LifeLine Team". Not only are they available 24/7 to provide technical support, but are composed of industry experts and even provide regular staff coaching on all kinds of supply chain improvements.Contact for pricing
IBM Planning AnalyticsIntegrations and ScalabilityCan easily integrate with any existing tools, and have an in-memory database with a native Excel interface for your well-versed staff to exploit. IBM uses AWS cloud-serviced to let you scale up or down in an instant.Starts at approx. £40/user/month
LEAFIO AI Retail PlatformRetailOne of the most advanced software for retail supply chain management automation and optimisation. Praised for its planogram management tool and automatic order creation.Contact for pricing
CargoWiseFreight ManagementFreightPOP's alter ego is arguably as good. It's praised for its user interface and extensive features, making it a must-go for power users.Contact for pricing
StockIQDistribution and Manufacturing SectorThis software is tailored to the distribution and manufacturing industries. It can integrate with Legacy ERP systems to ensure backwards compatibility, and has excellent customer support.Starts at approx. £40/month
BoardEase-of-useBoard are one of the major players, supporting some of the largest corporations. Their no-code interface means that anyone from the business can directly implement their own data models and dashboards without requiring technical expertise.Starts at approx. £800/month
RELEXDeveloper SupportRELEX specialize in retail and are best known for its flexibility, allowing in-house developers to tweak algorithms and prepare custom-made modules. Great for advanced users.Contact for pricing
GMDH StreamlineSupply and Demand ForecastingPraised for their robust AI-based predictive model for supply and demand forecasting for inventory management. It's a great complementary analytical tool to improve your business's inventory modelling.Starts at approx. £160/month

💡 Powerful SCM software needs robust broadband: You won’t get the most out of your SCM software without adequate connectivity. Compare business broadband packages from the best business broadband providers to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Best small business supply chain management software

Unlike medium and large corporate businesses, small businesses lack the firepower to install customers and tailor customer support. Often, small businesses only require general basic functionality (e.g., a small retailer) or a powerful tool for one specific supply chain problem (e.g., a consultant or freelance analyst) and prefer subscription-based services.

In any case, here is a selection of the best small business SCM software compiled from Capterra, GetApp and G2, including their reference prices as of April 2024:

SoftwareBest ForGeneral DescriptionCheapest Package
Cosmic FrogCustomisation and FlexibilityOffers highly customisable SCM solutions for small businesses looking for flexible, scalable options.Contact for pricing
FishbowlInventory Management for ManufacturersIdeal for small manufacturers and warehouses, Fishbowl allows for advanced inventory control, manufacturing, and order management.Starts around £3,512/license
OdooIntegrated Business OperationsProvides a suite of open-source applications covering all business needs, from SCM and CRM to ERP, making it suitable for small businesses looking for an all-in-one solution.Free tier available; paid plans start at approx. £20/user/month
Cin7 CoreMulti-channel Inventory ManagementHelps small businesses manage inventory across multiple sales channels, integrates with major e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon.Starts at approx. £239/month
FreightviewFreight Shipping ManagementAllows small businesses to streamline their freight shipping processes by comparing rates, booking shipments, and tracking, all on one platform.Starts at approx. £80/month
Quickbooks eCommerceE-commerce BusinessesDesigned for e-commerce businesses, integrating accounting and inventory management to streamline operations from sales to financial reporting.Part of the QuickBooks Online packages; starts at approx. £21/month
Cin7 Omni/CoreOmni-channel RetailingProvides comprehensive tools for managing retail operations across multiple channels, enhancing inventory visibility and order fulfilment.Contact for pricing
Route4MeRoute Planning and OptimisationSuitable for businesses needing efficient route planning for deliveries, including dynamic routing and real-time adjustments.Starts at approx. £130/month
Zoho InventoryInventory and Order ManagementOffers inventory management, order handling, and fulfilment capabilities, particularly useful for small businesses looking to integrate with Zoho’s suite of products.Free tier available; paid plans start at approx. £47/month
AscendTMSTransportation Management SystemA cloud-based TMS offering features such as load management, route planning, and freight brokerage, ideal for small logistics companies.Free tier available; premium features start at approx. £55/month
CristalGlass and Glazing IndustriesTailored for businesses in the glass industry, providing tools for order processing, inventory management, and production scheduling.Contact for pricing
Nomadia DeliveryMobile Workforce ManagementFocuses on managing mobile workforces, improving scheduling, dispatching, and real-time tracking for delivery businesses.Contact for pricing
Dynamics 365Comprehensive Business ManagementA Microsoft product offering extensive ERP and CRM capabilities, suitable for small businesses needing robust software support.Starts at approx. £140/user/month
Pirate ShipPostage and Shipping for Small ShippersOffers simplified shipping solutions with discounted rates for small businesses, ideal for reducing mailing costs effectively.Free to use; pay per shipment
ShipStationE-commerce Shipping AutomationStreamlines the shipping process for online retailers with automatic order importing, shipping label creation, and customer communication.Starts at approx. £7/month
ERPAGERP for Small EnterprisesAn ERP solution tailored for small businesses, supporting all core business processes including procurement, sales, and inventory management.Starts at approx. $39/month
PrecoroProcurement and Spend ManagementHelps small businesses manage their spending and procurement processes with automated workflows and budget tracking.Starts at approx. £16/user/month
Finale InventoryStock Control and Inventory ManagementSpecialises in high-volume, multi-channel e-commerce inventory management, providing powerful stock control and order management features.Starts at approx. £60/month
QuickbaseApplication Development and Workflow AutomationAllows small businesses to create custom applications and automate workflows, improving efficiency across operations.Starts at approx. $480/month
ShipHeroE-commerce Fulfilment and Warehouse ManagementProvides a cloud-based warehouse management system specifically designed for e-commerce fulfilment, featuring inventory control and shipping logistics.Starts at approx. £1,480/month
ShipBobEnd-to-End Fulfilment ServiceOffers comprehensive fulfilment services, from warehousing to delivery, ideal for e-commerce businesses that want to outsource logistics.Contact for pricing
KintoneTeam Collaboration and Data ManagementCustomisable no-code platform for team collaboration, project management, and data-driven insights, suitable for businesses needing flexible software solutions.Starts at approx. £20/user/month
LinnworksMulti-channel SellingAutomates the control of orders and inventory across multiple selling platforms, reducing overhead and increasing efficiency.Contact for pricing
StordNetworked DistributionProvides a network of warehouses and distribution services, allowing small businesses to scale logistics operations as needed.Contact for pricing
Logiwa WMSWarehouse Management SystemsSpecialises in cloud-based warehouse management, ideal for SMBs needing robust, scalable WMS solutions.Starts at approx. £160/month
Vin eRetailRetail and E-commerce OperationsOffers solutions tailored for retail and e-commerce, including inventory, order management, and fulfilment capabilities.Contact for pricing
inFlow InventorySmall Business Inventory ManagementProvides comprehensive tools for managing inventory, including purchasing, sales, and product tracking, aimed at small businesses.Starts at approx. £50/month

💡 Get the best connectivity for your small business SCM software by acquiring a cost-effective small business broadband deal.

The cost of supply chain management software

Supply chain management software costs can vary dramatically, from tens of thousands per year for a custom enterprise solution to a subscription akin to Netflix worth tens of pounds per month.

We detail the costs of the best SCM software suppliers here, as well as those for small businesses here.

There is a wide range of costs and payment options, from Precoro, the procurement specialist software that can cost as little as £16/user/month, to Fishbowl, which starts at £3,512/license. Others only release their pricing upon quotation because they have different costs depending on the functionality and services offered, including additional cybersecurity if handling sensitive data.

Other software can charge more because they fulfil certain cybersecurity compliance requirements, such as warehouses storing bank-help assets requiring compliance with FCA regulations.

There may also be additional installation and customisation costs that can easily exceed £15,000.

Why is supply chain management software so expensive?

Not only is developing and supporting software solutions a resource-intensive endeavour, but the fact that supply chain companies work with large volumes means that a marginal improvement in efficiency translates to a huge uptick in income. SCM companies know this and can charge more than the average software package.

In any case, here is a breakdown of some of the most compelling reasons why SCM software is so expensive:

Big impact on ROIThe software can significantly reduce operational costs and improve efficiency, justifying the initial investment through substantial ROI.
R&D costs are highIncorporates advanced technologies like AI and predictive analytics, requiring substantial R&D investment. Engineers are expensive, and it's hard stuff to solve.
CustomisationWhen SCM software is tailored to fit specific business processes and integrate with existing systems, there will be a premium.
Infrastructure costs are highWhen SCM must handle large data volumes securely and scale as business grows, there is an additional infrastructure premium for hosting their own servers.
Compliance costs are highSCMs that adapt to different international regulations require experts to continuously update, modify and get the necessary certificated to ensure compliance.

Supply chain management software – FAQs

Our business broadband experts answer commonly asked questions on supply chain management software in the UK.

Does supply chain management software support e-commerce?

Many SCM systems are designed to integrate seamlessly with e-commerce platforms, especially those specialising in the supply chain’s retail and distribution side. In fact, it’s become an entry-level requirement for this SCM niche.

This means managing everything from inventory updates to order fulfilment and shipping. This integration is crucial for maintaining accurate stock levels and ensuring timely customer deliveries.

See our list of the best supply chain management software for each niche to find one that suits your requirements and price range.

How long does it take to implement supply chain management software?

The implementation time can vary widely depending on the complexity of the business’s supply chain, the extent of customisation required, and the organisation’s size.

For example, the simplest, bare-bones stock management implementation can be completed by in-house staff within a business day (especially with no-code software; see our list to find the most straightforward SCM software).

However, at the enterprise level, custom implementation with tailor-made features and predictive algorithms can take most of the year. This requires careful coordination, pricing negotiations, compliance checking, etc.

Is supply chain management software compatible with mobile devices?

Many modern SCM solutions are designed to be compatible with mobile devices, providing apps or mobile-friendly interfaces that allow managers and staff to monitor and manage the supply chain from anywhere, facilitating real-time decision-making and communication.

This is crucial for employees and contractors working in the field, as it allows them to input real-time information, even in non-digitised locations such as small ports in developing countries or smaller warehouses.

💡 Starlink and other satellite broadband and 5G broadband providers are revolutionising global connectivity. This means that inspectors in far-flung facilities like industrial warehouses, small ports, or transhipment stations can have connectivity and immediately report any important data to HQ through a mobile-compatible SCM system.

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