January 29, 2014, 2:56 PM

Order management : An omnichannel imperative

Order management software plays a crucial role for retailers tying together their stores and web sites. That’s what’s behind a spate of acquisitions of order management technology providers, says Forrester analyst Peter Sheldon.

With Omnichannel excellence fast becoming a customer imperative, retailers and brands alike are rushing to operationalize an increasingly complex set of cross-channel order processing and fulfillment scenarios—often referred to in aggregate as “buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere.” In fact, in a recent survey, we found that 52% of eBusiness professionals ranked omnichannel integration as a top technology investment priority.

The path to omnichannel maturity is far from simple; it requires execution across a set of tactics that span organization, process, and technology. As result, solving the basics is still front of mind for retailers—such as store pickup, cross-channel inventory visibility, store-based fulfillment, and endless aisle (in-store) ordering. Today, retailers that have already enabled these capabilities have done so by developing custom applications that integrate their eCommerce, POS, and ERP/supply chain systems. However as these capabilities rapidly become the ‘norm’ for the consumer, retailers seek packaged solutions that enable them to rapidly rollout, experiment with, and scale these programs.

Enter the OMS (order management system). In our May 2013 survey only 17% of eBusiness professionals identified the investment in an OMS platform as an investment priority, however this relative lack of interest is in fact easy to explain:

1)             Many retailers are still in the nascent phases of their omnichannel journey and have yet to fully map out their requirements. Simply put, these retailers still need to make the connection between the capabilities of an OMS platform and the requirements of their Omnichannel strategy.

2)             OMS technology has historically been the domain of supply chain professionals; however in 2014 eBusiness professionals are now stakeholders too as the online buyer demands an integrated customer experience between the online and offline worlds.

3)             An increasing number of retailers are turning to their eCommerce platform vendor to meet their omnichannel and OMS technology needs. As retailers re-platform their eCommerce technology, some are increasing scope to include a simultaneous upgrade of their OMS capabilities.

Having a mature, embedded OMS capability has become an imperative for the leading eCommerce vendors, all of whom share a strategic vision to own the customer transactional lifecycle across all channels (online, mobile, contact center, and stores). This need for OMS as a core capability of eCommerce has driven a recent flurry of acquisitions:

  • IBM’s acquisition of Sterling Commerce
  • hybris’s acquisition of iCongo
  • Netsuite’s acquisition of OrderMotion
  • eCommera’s acquisition of OrderDynamics 

Now Demandware has followed suit with their acquisition last week of long-term OMS partner Mainstreet Commerce. The acquisition will enable Demandware to fully support Omnichannel, drop ship, and other order orchestration and lifecycle management capabilities to their existing clients and prospects. For those considering Demandware for eCommerce, they will find the addition of an integrated SaaS order management capability a welcome addition that fills what was until last week a significant void in Demandware’s capability map.

Over the next few months Adam Silverman and I will be taking a closer look at the relative capabilities of the leading order management solutions available on the market. We’ll be looking closely at how the eCommerce and OMS vendors enable omnichannel order fulfillment scenarios as well as support traditional post-submission order orchestration capabilities such as drop shipping, split shipments, and an enterprise single view of inventory. For those looking at an investment in OMS technology in the near future—we would love to hear about your omnichannel challenges and aspirations.

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