Warehouse Management System vs Inventory Management System

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are different. If you’re looking for new software that can help you track your inventory,  it’s important to know the difference between an inventory management system (IMS) and a warehouse management system (WMS). Knowing the difference will help you discover which one of these you want and need for your organization. You want the one that will solve your particular pain points. 

If you’re shopping for new software to manage your inventory so that you can finally transition away from pen and paper or Excel, then you are likely looking for either an IMS or a WMS. But which? These terms sound almost identical. However, getting into the details, you’ll find some common differences and similarities between these two systems. 

Here’s the basic definitions of WMS and IMS: 

WMS: This is a warehouse management system. The system helps organizations track sales trends, the costs of products they have on-hand at any given time, and calculating profits based on the careful and precise inventory tracking. The hardware involved is often now cloud-based systems that allow for communication between desktop and mobile devices. A WMS is heavily focused on processes and making the warehouse operations as efficient as possible. It’s about the who, where, how and why of the distribution of inventory.

IMS: This refers to an inventory management system. The system helps organizations forecast the inventory levels based upon historical data of sales and restocking of their storage spaces. An IMS will tell you how much inventory you have in stock. It also can tell you how much you’re ordering and selling. It will often include barcode functionality like a WMS, but perhaps will less complexity. They tend to take less time to implement than a WMS. However, streamlining tasks might still need to be managed outside of it.


The IMS yields information about inventory, sales, and projected sales. A WMS is more robust, involving the movement and handling of inventory. Both help you manage and control your inventory. Both can have barcoding. One is not better than the other. It’s just a matter of which one is best for you.

Flowtrac has software packages that include both WMS and IMS features. Whatever your tracking needs, we will make sure the software adjusts to your business and not the other way around.