7 Must-Haves for International Order Management Technology
Thursday, April 12, 2018

7 Must-Haves for International Order Management Technology

Are you an international retail chain? Are you working on a multinational scale? If so, are vendors still approaching you with systems primarily designed for the U.S. market, that ‘should’ work internationally?

You cannot take a vendor’s ‘word’, when your career and livelihood are on the line. A misstep on your international expansion plans can cost your company dearly. And, you don’t have to look far, to see the effects of international expansion plans gone sour. Rather, find a vendor with a solid roster of international successes. Add to that top tier capabilities to back you up, and you are ready to go. When thinking about international order management think about:

1. Flexible Scalability 

Order Management on an international level takes much more than just a cute interface

Scalability of an DOM (distributed order management system) is important. Too many DOMs have been designed with a very pretty interface that makes it look easy to drag and drop inventory. Wonderful. But, working on an international level take much more than a cute interface. Much more important is the robust underlying technology, that can scale at a moment’s Yetsdfsnotice.

Ask about how many stores and distribution centers (DC) the system is designed to handle. Remember that if the vendor tells you it is meant for 5 – 200 stores, consider this range to actually be 5 – 100, or 5 – 50 tested and handled safely. If your operation is a mid to large retail chain working internationally – this is a risk. More importantly, look for examples of international order management technology use across retail chains in the regions you need. Trust active store counts as the system’s field-tested capacity.

Yet it Goes Beyond Store Count

Also ask about the hard stress test results of the DOM. Recall that the order volumes hitting a system can easily multiply by 20x – 50x the hourly or daily average on key days. You cannot afford to find out the limitations on Black Friday, Boxing Day, or Singles Day. If you are a large multinational retailer, you need technology that can handle high volumes and scales fast. In fact, consider volume capacities in the 1 – 1.5 Million orders per hour range. You may never use this peak capacity, but it buys you the peace of mind to know your system will handle any load – on any day.

Conversely, you don’t want a system designed for ultra-high capacity, and stuck there. That can cost you $1 Million to $2 Million+ to just start the conversation. The key words are cost-effective and fast scalability.

2. Multi-Currency Support

World Map with Money

Ok. This is a no-brainer. Working internationally means you cannot survive without proven multi-currency support. Ask to see customers pushing the boundaries of the DOM in multiple countries. Since the DOM will have to ship across borders your system needs to handle multi-currency with ease.

3. Multi-Lingual Support 

Again, a no-brainer. If you are only shipping between two countries with very similar languages, this is not an issue. Commerce between Canada and US, Portugal and Brazil, Spain and most of South America, Austria and Germany, and so on. But, even in these cases, there are lingual nuances to which the DOM should adapt. As an example, Canadian French includes subtle difference to Parisian French. Ask your DOM vendor about the subtleties.

4. Double Byte Characters

If you have operations, or even vague future plans of transacting in Asia Pacific (APAC), then you need double byte character capability. The old phrase ‘never say never’ applies well here. To transact in Korean, Chinese, or Japanese requires double byte character sets. The last thing you need is to find out that to expand into these areas you will first need to swap out your OMS for a more powerful DOM that handles it. This counts either for having operations in APAC countries, and for catering to these communities around the world. There are many vibrant and large immigrant communities in countries like U.S, Canada, Australia, and UK – as examples.

As a multinational retailer – this capability is a must have. Consider it a ‘show stopper’ for any DOM vendor lacking it, today. Don’t get sold on a roadmap. Remember that roadmaps can change, adjust and meander. Shoppers do as well. Don’t cater to the customer’s needs locally, in their language and character sets – and they will meander away from you.

 

Will the Real OMS Please Stand Up Whitepaper

 

5. Local Cloud Hosting

Given that on-premise OMS solutions are a thing of the past, your modern DOM will be hosted on cloud technology. Unlike the sales pitch, it isn’t easy to spin up a new cloud system in a different country or region. Best is to find out where the vendor hosts their multi-tenant SaaS solution, on which vendor’s cloud, and in which regions. Look specifically for the regions in which the vendor has clients on the locally hosted network.

Why is Cloud Hosting Important? 

65% of Order Management Technology is hosted on AWS

First, you don’t want to have a major public controversy on your hands. Think about European data being hosted on a U.S. cloud provider. Any and all data are subject to the U.S. Patriot Act rules. Should such an investigation ever take place, your retail brand would be front-stage as part of the consumer protection press conversations. Not a comfortable conversation. Such publicity and public debate could be a serious brand eroding distraction for your business. Look for a DOM vendor with a balanced international client base, who has already worked out regional hosting.

While reviewing hosting, ask about which cloud provider your DOM vendor uses. Given that 65% of OMS vendors host on Amazon’s AWS network – be aware of which cloud provider your vendor has chosen. Remember that hosting on AWS is akin to sending money to your largest competitor. More and more retailers are realizing that systems hosted on the AWS network support their competitor – Amazon. Instead, look for DOM vendors hosted equally reliable and powerful systems like Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.

6. 24|7|365 Support

Running an international business is tough work. Shoppers don’t sleep. That means your system has to be up and operational – ALWAYS. It means finding a DOM that offers technical support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Yes, this should be a no-brainer. After all, it is the norm in today’s business environment. But it is always worth asking. You don’t want to find out that your international support is all hosted out of a small office in Nebraska (US), where the one technical worker fell asleep at 4:00am local time, during a full system failure in South Korea.

7. Adaptable APIs Woman holding up a globe

You want your international order management technology to be robust, and capable of adapting to the region. Find a vendor that has a team and process specifically designed for interconnectivity. Typically, this is done with webservice calls, middleware technology, interconnection cartridges, and adaptive API’s. A good DOM vendor with international deployment experience will have a team that develops and adapts API’s or interconnection methods to accommodate the local business needs. It includes connecting with local payment gateways, in-country third party logistics providers (3PL), or regional parcel delivery carriers. This lets you stay in control. If a sub-system does not work well, then it can be swapped out for another technology.

The Verdict

Running retail operations internationally is a major challenge. Doing it effectively, even more so. Your international order management technology needs to be there to support you, not to add to your head-aches. It needs to keep up with your needs. On that front nothing trumps experience, a solid track record, and a roster of multi-national retailers already in action. Consider this and the seven criteria above to choose wisely.

 

Author:

Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Vice President of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.

 

 

 

Related:  

Distributed Order Management: Why are frequent updates important?

Do You Need Global Inventory Visibility?

Platform vs Out-of-the-Box: Which Retail OMS is Best?