Unpacking Supply Chain Technologies: An Introduction to ERP, WMS, and More

Author: Whitney Koch

Supply chain disruptions have become part of regular conversation since the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers with poor inventory management and transparency struggle to balance their inventory levels and deliver products on time. Many software solutions have been developed to give manufacturers the inventory oversight, forecasting, and collaboration abilities to meet customers’ needs.

In a recent #USAMfgHour chat on X, Kirsten Austin, President and CEO from DCSC, Inc., a software developer of shipping and supply chain solutions for distributors and manufacturers, gave an introductory lesson on supply chain technology. In the discussion, Austin defined common supply chain software acronyms and gave insight into how manufacturers can leverage these software solutions to improve their operations.

Decoding Supply Chain Acronyms


The chat began with host DCSC, Inc. asking participants if they could define “ERP” without looking it up.

“Enterprise Resource Planning,” responded Kati McDermith from Manufacturers’ News, Inc. (MNI), Gina Tabasso from Vacavia Cottages & Cabins and Barracuda B2B Marketing, and Nigel Packer from Pelatis Online.

Whitney Koch from Keystone Click guessed, “Equipment Resource Program? I should know this.”

“What’s sad is – my hubby and I JUST looked this up last night,” added Missy Moorefield from Southern Fasteners & Supply. “Of course I don’t remember what it was though. Had I known I was inadvertently studying for today, I would have paid more attention.”

After confirming that ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, host DCSC, Inc., explained that an ERP “is a type of software system that helps organizations automate and manage core business processes all in one system.”


Participants were then asked what “WMS” means, again without using any external tools to look it up.

“Wild Milk Shake?” joked Jim Palmer from Buy Direct USA.

Those in the know, including Amy Anderson, McDermith, Tabasso, and Packer, quickly answered, “Warehouse Management System.”

Host DCSC, Inc. defined WMS – Warehouse Management System – as “a software solution that offers visibility into a business’s entire inventory and manages supply chain fulfillment operations from the (DC) Distribution Center to the store shelf or consumer.”

“This makes sense, Kirsten,” Felix P. Nater of Nater Associates responded.


Armed with another acronym, host DCSC, Inc, asked participants whether they knew what a CRM system was.

“Customer Relations Management,” said Anderson.

Replying to Anderson, host DCSC, Inc. said, “Hi Amy! You got it, sister! Thank you so much for joining #USAMfgHour today!”

“I think Amy may be able to answer all your Qs, Kirsten,” added Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing.

Anderson interjected: “Doubtful, so many acronyms have multiple meanings depending on the field…(couldn’t remember the first one after all).”

“Customer Relationship Management,” answered business owner and entrepreneur Pavel Stepanov. “It is a tool that helps you collect feedback, communicate with customers and potential customers, and organize your customer support processes.”

Virtual assistance service provider VirtuDesk replied, “Customer Relationship Management. We are using one for customer support, generating reports, and more.”

Packer and McDermith also responded with “Customer Relationship Management.”

“Customer relationship management; my client InfoGrow sells ClickDimensions PowerPack, an all-in-one CRM, sales engagement and marketing automation platform,” said Tabasso.

Validating that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, host DCSC, Inc. explains it “is a technology for managing all of your company’s relationships and interactions with customers, prospects, vendors, etc.”

“Something the big companies dont (sic) seem to care about much,” Palmer commented. “The small and midsize companies understand the value of their customers.”


Next, host DCSC, Inc. asked for the meaning of one more acronym: SCM.

“I don’t believe I have seen that acronym before,” said Koch.

Packer, Tabasso, and Rick Gunnarson from Angi answered, “supply chain management.”

SCM is an acronym for Supply Chain Management, which host DCSC, Inc. explained: “is coordinating the various actions necessary to produce and deliver goods or services to customers.”

Cloud vs. On-Premise: Navigating Computing Options

Moving on from acronyms, host DCSC Inc. posed the question, “What is cloud-based computing vs. on-premise?”

“This is a little bit of IT. We believe both are computer processors,” responded VirtuDesk.

Replying to VirtuDesk, host DCSC, Inc. said, “They are. You’re definitely correct about that!”

“Cloud means the information is on a server not onsite,” Palmer said. “The other is having your server onsite.”

Packer responded, “It is where your computer is like a terminal and all the computing stuff, memory etc, goes on somewhere else.”

“[O]ne’s on the cloud and one is saved in site,” answered McDermith.

Tabasso added, “[S]ervices provided over the internet instead of through an onsite server.”

“Cloud-based is off-site while On Premise is located at the business site,” said Gunnarson.

Bringing all the responses together, host DCSC, Inc. said: “Cloud Computing is the delivery of computing services – including servers, data storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence via the internet (the cloud) verses (sic) on-site. You will also note the term SaaS Software as a Service.”

AI in Action

Sticking with cloud computing, host DCSC, Inc. asked chat participants “What is AI?”

Gunnarson, Koch, Moorefield, Stepanov, and Tabasso quickly answered, “Artificial Intelligence.”

Jokingly, VirtuDesk responded, “AI = Googling for an answer.”

To tie it together, host DCSC, Inc. elaborated: AI “includes technologies that enable computers to perform a variety of advanced functions, including the ability to see, understand, and translate spoken and written language, analyze data, make recommendations, and more.”

Balancing Act: How Much Technology is Too Much?

The conversation has focused on technological solutions for manufacturers’ supply chain pains. Apropos of that, host DCSC, Inc. posed this question: “Do you think there is such as thing as too much technology?”

Rusine responded, “Maybe we’ve put all our eggs in the technology basket. But hey, technology isn’t all doom and gloom, right?”

“I know I would rather live now than in past times because of advancements in medical technology!” Koch replied to Rusine.

Rusine commented, “The benefits are undeniable!”

“Yes,” Tabasso said. “It can actually cripple people if not leveraged effectively. It can get confusing with competing solutions. You have to really wade through the heap.”

VirtuDesk said, “If we solely rely on technology and forget that we are humans, then yes.”

“Technology is brilliant and useful helping so many in their lives of work, study, health, research etc.,” Packer said. “There is also a case that “technology for technology’s sake” can be bad for society.”

Gunnarson replied, “Overall, technology has developed quicker than humanity can properly adapt to it, IMHO.”

“I’m torn on this one,” Moorefield answered. “I love having the internet at my fingertips and the communication pathways it gives us… but perhaps we’ve become too reliant on it in some instances.”

Responding to Moorefield, host DCSC, Inc. said: “I’m with you! Case example, when I was in New Mexico with a friend, our GPS did not work and we could not find the place we were going to. We went old school and bought an actual map. We went 2 hours down the wrong highway according to the map.”

“Yes and no,” Koch responded. “Technology serves so many purposes, but it isn’t always *THE* solution.”

To close this portion of the conversation, host DCSC, Inc. shared their belief that there is such a thing as too much technology. “Anytime you can streamline a manual process, make real-time inventory decisions, or scale your company with technology, that is good. I do not think technology will ever replace the most important part of business, human relationships,” host DCSC, Inc. elaborated.

Leveraging Social Media for Business Growth

Lastly, host DCSC, Inc. asked participants whether they thought social media was good for business.

Rusine responded affirmatively, “Absolutely!”

VirtuDesk was in agreement: “Yes!”

Stepanov also answered affirmatively. “Yes,” he said.

Replying to Stepanov, host DCSC Inc. added. “You’ve got that right Pavel! [A]lso, your team is really good at it! You’re consistent with blogging and posting.”
“It’s necessary,” McDermith responded.

Several participants agreed but added clarifying statements.

“Yes, as long as you stay on top of posting and engaging with others,” Moorefield said. “I constantly struggle with this!”

Tabasso clarified the best use cases for social media for business: “[I]t’s good for branding and relationships; for top of funnel and education; for thought leadership not for selling,” she said.

In response to Tabasso, host DCSC Inc. commented, “… and have I been BOMBARDED by unsolicited emails and DMs. I agree.”

“‘No man is an island,’” Packer added. “We all need human contact and discourse to grow and develop as humans. Social media is a modern form of communication that can start the development process of relationships, whether business, plutonic (sic) or romantic.”

Gunnarson said, “When balanced with direct, personal engagement.”

Social Media has become a major communication means. Communication is necessary for successful business,” said Anderson. “So, yes, proper use of the social media(s); where your audiences reside is good for business.”

To end the conversation, host DCSC, Inc. shared their experience with social media: “You’d be surprised that many potential customers will first start their research through the internet. Leveraging Social Media the right way ensures you are accessible to potential clients, partners, and future team members.”

Relying to host DCSC, Inc., Koch added that “[r]esearch from TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec that was presented at Industrial Marketing Summit found that more technical buyers do their research online before making a purchasing decision.”


This recent #USAMfgHour chat addressed the fundamental aspects of supply chain technology by defining common acronyms and explaining their functionality. Led by host DCSC, Inc., participants engaged in an insightful dialogue, underscoring the importance of technologies, such as ERP, WMS, CRM, and SCM systems in addressing supply chain challenges.

From essential supply chain technologies to cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the role of social media in business, the chat provided valuable perspectives on how manufacturers can use technology to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and drive growth. As manufacturers navigate the complexities of today’s supply chains, embracing innovative solutions and fostering human connections are necessary to create sustainable success.

About #USAMfgHour

Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @DCSCinc, @SocialSMktg, and @KeystoneClick.

To learn more about how Keystone Click can help you level up your online presence, contact us.