Logistics Technology

Category Compare: Manufacturing vs. Distribution Software

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In this report, we define and compare manufacturing software and distribution software so you can decide which tool is right for your business.

Manufacturing software and distribution software are two closely related but distinct categories. This report will identify the similarities and differences between the two products to help you understand which one is better suited for your requirements.

What is manufacturing software?

Manufacturing software helps automate manufacturing operations on the shop floor, such as inventory tracking, workforce scheduling, and production and assembly planning. It also helps create work orders for employees and allocate raw materials and other resources for jobs. 

Manufacturing software is used to capture real-time updates on shop floor operations and optimize processes for enhanced labor and equipment productivity.

What is distribution software?

Distribution software helps manufacturers handle the distribution of their finished goods or products. It also assists in tracking inventory levels at warehouses, creating purchase orders for replenishments, and maintaining customer and supplier information, including their contact details, purchase history, and reorder points. 

Distribution software is mostly used by manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers for logistics planning and warehouse management.

What do they have in common?

There are a few similarities between manufacturing and distribution software since manufacturing involves the production of goods and materials in production units, whereas distribution starts right after manufacturing and involves the movement of the produced goods from manufacturing units to end consumers.

Manufacturing software features

Distribution software features

Which tool is right for you?

If your business is into manufacturing goods and you want to keep an account of the materials/equipment required for the process, then manufacturing software would be ideal for you. However, if your business is looking for fleet, inventory, and distribution management, distribution software would make more sense.

Once you decide which software to use, head to our manufacturing software and distribution software category pages where you can find a sortable list of products, software reviews from verified users, and comprehensive buyers guides.

If you wish to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit Capterra’s Shortlist reports for the top manufacturing software and distribution software tools—our reports are based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.

6 top-rated manufacturing and distribution software

These 6 products, listed in alphabetical order, are among the top rated in both software categories:

Note: Reviews and ratings data in the product cards is as of Oct. 26, 2021. New reviews may have been added since the publication of this article, so the reviews data in this piece may not reflect current conditions.

The products in the category comparison images are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations by Capterra. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.


To be included in the list, the products must:

  1. Be listed under Capterra’s 2021 Shortlist report for manufacturing and distribution software. Learn more about the Capterra Shortlist methodology here.
  2. Meet our software market definition for manufacturing and distribution software:
    • Manufacturing: “Manufacturing software helps companies manage orders and schedule production jobs using accurate bills of materials and inventory management to ensure all components are available.”
    • Distribution: “Distribution software is designed to help manufacturers manage and handle everything from inventory control and order processing, to accounting, supply chain management, sales, customer support and customer relationship management, and finance management. Distribution software is an all-in-one solution designed to provide easier integration and up-to-date information”

Looking for Logistics software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Logistics software solutions.

About the Author

Ashish Upadhyay

Ashish Upadhyay

Ashish Upadhyay is a content writer at Capterra, helping small businesses identify the right software for their business needs by analyzing user reviews data for the highest rated products in relevant software categories. Prior to joining Gartner, he worked in insurtech, fintech, and real estate. Specializing in marketing, project, and IT management, Ashish’s works have been featured in MAST magazine and Medium. In his free time, he enjoys working out and playing video games.

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