12 min Applications

Manhattan Associates provides supply chain software, is it more than a fancy name?

Insight: IT in Retail

Manhattan Associates provides supply chain software, is it more than a fancy name?

When you think of Manhattan Associates, you might think of an expensive law firm or accounting specialist. However, it is the fancy name of an American software provider specialising in supply chain. Of all the solutions we have seen in the market, Manhattan has perfected its processes in the tiniest details. From inventory management, warehouse management, point of sale solutions to truck loading.

After doing the research, the mystery surrounding the name is pretty simple. It has nothing to do with New York. Apparently, there is a town in California called Manhattan Beach, and that is where this company’s origins lie.

Very innovative for an enterprise software vendor

We often see enterprise software vendors that have been in business for decades that got stuck somewhere. The software often looks dated, innovation struggles, and it more or less looks like they have to start from scratch to be modern and innovative again. Fortunately for us, this is not the case at Manhattan Associates. This company is a lot more innovative than we expected beforehand.

For example, Manhattan Associates started taking its portfolio to the cloud five years ago. Manhattan Active is the cloud platform on which all of Manhattan’s solutions run. Manhattan offers its software through a SaaS model. There is only one solution left they provide on-premise, which is Manhattan Scale. Manhattan Associates expected that by 2025, it would derive revenue primarily from SaaS (cloud), but it went a lot faster. It took the company about three years to do so. Today, on-premises accounts for only 1.5 percent of the total revenue. Its fair to say that Manhatten Associates is now a true SaaS provider taking full advantage of the cloud. We learned between the lines that many solutions at Manhattan are also developed cloudnative. So the cloud is really central to Manhattan Associates’ development strategy.

Intensive collaboration with Google Cloud

At Manhattan Associates, Google Cloud plays a big role. The Manhattan Active platform runs entirely in the Google Cloud. There is also an intensive collaboration in which Manhattan has access to a team at Google. That team supports the organisation in software development, scaling the platform, and developing new AI solutions. Google announced Vertex AI earlier this year, which allows you to use, extend or link generative AI models with enterprise data. Manhattan Associates claims to derive tremendous value from the knowledge and experience of the Google team. According to Manhattan Associates CEO Eddie Capel, the partnership also benefits Google. Google can see directly how innovations are being used in enterprise software. For example, how AI and generative AI are deployed in Manhattan Associates’ supply chain solutions.

Google Cloud is also the main sponsor of the Manhattan customer event in Cannes, which confirms how intense the collaboration is. We often come across Google as a sponsor of events, but not usually as a main sponsor.

Manhattan Associates delivers everything except the store, webshop and warehouse

During a presentation by Capel, he explained that, especially in the past, organizations often invested primarily in the so-called front-end solution. These organisations have very advanced webshop. They focus their innovation on customer portals so that customers can quickly find and order products. When you look at the back-end environment, the software that employees have to use, all the modern stuff and innovations have disappeared. Outdated software, slow processes, solutions tied together in various ways, and many inefficiencies. Capel states that Manhattan Associates is purely focusing on those back-end environments. Making sure innovation and efficient processes are also available for employees. More specifically, Manhattan delivers the whole back-end and supply chain involved in an order.

Manhattan builds systems where order management takes place, customer data is collected, inventory management is processed, the warehouse is controlled and where shipping is arranged of all the orders. In many organizations, these are individual solutions tied together, in many cases by customers themselves. Manhattan Associates works with a single cloud platform that all solutions are based on, making them work together out-of-the-box.

The fact that in many organizations, these are all individual applications knotted together has its drawbacks. At many e-commerce businesses, you can’t change anything after you’ve placed an order. This is because arranging this in all those back-end systems is difficult. Or why airlines take forever to rebook you on a different flight when you have missed your connection. The employee has to gather information from various systems and then re-enter that to rebook your ticket. At Manhattan, everything works on the same cloud and integration is part of the solution, making these processes much faster and more efficient.

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At the bottom of this article, we have summarized Manhattan Associates’ portfolio for a complete overview.

Een man staat voor een groot scherm met de woorden unified supply chain powered by Manhattan Associates.

The strength of Manhattan Associates is in the platform and the details

Manhattan Associates has chosen to develop all of its solutions on the Manhattan Active Cloud platform. That is a modern platform built from cloud services that can scale up and down quickly. That means that whether 10 or 1,000 employees are working in warehouses and using Manhattan Associates, the solution does not slow down. The IT environment scales up and down with peak and off-peak usage of the system.

As stated, the strength of Manhattan Associates is in the platform and the details. For example, we showed earlier that you can’t change anything about your order after it has been placed at many retailers. With retailers using Manhattan Associates, you can. If they want to.

Modify orders

For example, Manhattan offers the ability to change the order’s contents or even the address for delivery after ordering. When you order a red sweater, but a couple of hours later, you decide to switch the red sweater to three blue sweaters, Manhatten can change that easily. The platform offers the possibility to be more flexible. Of course, there is a time limit on this. Once the sweater is packed, you can no longer change the color or quantities. You can, however, change the address. These are additional services that customers appreciate. Also, for retailers, the flexibility helps them reduce returns.

Intelligent return process for retail

What we found even more clever are the options Manhattan Associates offers in return processes. What you see at most retailers is that all returns go to the same address. To be checked and processed and eventually, go back into general stock. Manhattan Associates offers a much smarter process by combining different supply chain solutions.

Suppose someone indicates that they want to return two blue sweaters. The system will look at where those sweaters are most needed. Suppose the sweaters are still in stock in Amsterdam, but they are sold out in Frankfurt, the customer will get a return label to ship the sweaters directly to the Frankfurt store. The store staff will have to do the return checks, but they do get new stock immediately. It also saves an extra shipment, which is more sustainable.

We understood from the customers at the Manhatten event that store employees generally do have time to process several returns. Of course, there is a limit of what a store can handle, but if the returns are spread over many stores, it works and it brings many additional benefits. The returns process is more efficient, products are back in stores faster, and returns require less staff. We understand that there are even stores that have more staff at peak times because they are more occupied with returns at quiet hours.

Manhattan Associates delivers the solutions you didn’t know you needed

Manhattan Associates has developed many solutions that organizations probably don’t even know they need. They are probably not the first with some of their solutions, but the combination and offering from a single platform does add considerable value.

For example, they developed a solution that can determine how a truck should be loaded. It allows more products to fit in a truck and in a proper delivery order. In addition, they have Yard Management, a solution that determines which trailer should go to which loading dock. You are probably thinking the same as us at this point, what’s exciting about that?

Yard Management considers where the products to be loaded are stored in the warehouse. It designates a loading dock that is closest to the most products. As a result, employees loading the trailer will travel shorter distances with the products. As a result, a truck is loaded faster, which saves time and costs. There is also a solution that helps with shipping products through outside carriers. This allows one to consider cost, speed, distance and sustainability. The entire process, from start to finish, is optimized with various intelligent software solutions.

What’s coming next?

The Manhattan Active platform is fully API-driven. This allows companies that want to collaborate and integrate with Manhattan Associates to do so. There are already hundreds of third-party integrations. The next step will undoubtedly be an app store for ISV partners wanting to expand and leverage the platform further. Based on our conversations, that is still in the pipeline.

Manhattan Associates also has the necessary AI solutions available in preview. AI and generative AI will be part of the solution in the near future. These are currently still being tested and will be available later.

(Generative) AI

Manhattan Associates chooses to bundle several AI solutions when developing new features. As a result, you get an extremely powerful tool that can do more than just generate text or code. For example, Manhattan will support the ability to tell what the status of work in the warehouse is. The system can then indicate that the current team is 20 minutes behind schedule and needs two more people to catch up. Or that the team is ahead of schedule and two people can go home early or be deployed elsewhere.

Een man van Manhattan Associates staat op het podium voor een groot scherm.

Manhattan can also provide support through AI to determine the best people to send home or deploy elsewhere. A manager can converse with the system and update work instructions automatically. For that, you need more than just generative AI, you also need knowledge of the organization and more traditional AI-models.


All in all, Manhattan Associates has created a platform that organizations in the world of supply chain cannot ignore. So, it is certainly more than a fancy name. The efficiency offered by the platform, as well as the additional services toward the end customer, have enormous value. Also, there are still the necessary organizations with challenges and problems in their supply chain because the current solutions are dated or do not work well together. That can be easily solved with Manhattan’s solutions. It won’t be for everyone, we understand that Manhattan primarily targets organizations with revenues of $250 million or more. That seems like a huge amount, but for organizations with a large supply chain, it’s not too bad in itself. Manhattan Associates’ clients include L’Oréal and Coolblue, among others.

What exactly does Manhattan Associates provide?

At Manhattan Associates, they have divided their solutions into three categories, namely:

  • Omnichannel Commerce;
  • Supply Chain Execution;
  • Supply Chain Planning;

Omnichannel Commerce

By Omnichannel Commerce, Manhattan understands true retail solutions. Think Order Management, Point of Sale, Customer Service & Engagement, Store Inventory & Fulfilment. Basically everything directly related to the online or physical stores. So you can manage the inventory of all locations, process orders, and even transactions and payments can be done through the point of sale solution. Manhattan also offers customer contact and support in a variety of options, from a traditional contact center to self-service and chatbots.

Manhattan Associates’ retail solutions do require the customer to integrate them into their existing webshop or website. As yet, Manhattan Associates does not provide a front-end solution in the form of an online shop, for which it cooperates with many partners. For example, customers also often work with Salesforce Commerce Cloud. At Manhattan Associates, all solutions are API-driven and have many possibilities for integration and even customization via the API.

Supply Chain Execution

By Supply Chain Execution, Manhattan Associates means; Warehouse Management, Labor Management, Transportation Management, Yard Management, Carrier Management and Manhattan Scale.

If we have to summarize this briefly, it is basically the process that begins after the order is placed until delivery to the customer. All products are stored by the warehouse management solution in the warehouse, and then collected when an order is placed. This requires checking what has been ordered, whether it is in stock and whether any items are missing. Then, all products must be collected, and transport management arranges how a product gets to its final destination. For that, Manhattan Associates has all kinds of sophisticated tools that think about the smallest details.

Supply Chain Planning

Finally, there is Manhattan Associates Supply Chain Planning. This includes Allocation, Demand Forecasting and Replenishment. The goal of these solutions is to keep inventory as efficient as possible. Making sure products are in the right distribution center or store at the right time, where there is the most demand at that time. Also ensuring that new inventory is automatically ordered based on recent sales. Ultimately, it’s about creating the right balance between inventory, sales and costs. You want to serve the customer in the best possible way, by having the products where the customer needs them, but at the same time not holding huge inventories that it the end won’t be sold.