NRF 2018: Questions For Your Order Management Vendors
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

NRF 2018: Questions For Your Order Management Vendors

To be competitive in today’s retail environment means you need to have an omni-channel strategy. Procrastinate, delay, or just not making it happen means you stand to lose customers. Plain and simply.  And where better can you learn more about omni-channel strategy than at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show?

Millennials, Generation Z, and even Boomers are using smartphones for everything. That means if you aren’t available online, or on mobile, or are not connecting ALL the pieces. It means you stand to lose in the long run. Furthermore, as your competitors deploy unified commerce infrastructure, and offer seamless brand experiences to shoppers, your brand will start to look stale, antiquated … yesteryear.

Nobody wants these scenarios. To get you off to a start on the right footing – think about your core systems first. Any omni-channel retail solution starts with a robust distributed order management system (DOM).  In part, this is why attending NRF 2018 could be a great idea, as an opportunity to meet several vendors, get a feel for their product, feature set, business, and culture. But, with so many choices which vendor is right for you? This is where it is handy to have a few questions in mind, to help assess which company can truly help you, versus those who just want to sell you their entire full suite of systems (whether you need it or not).

Questions To Consider at NRF 2018

1. Can The DOM Deploy in 90 Days or Less?

If only 5% of a vendor's clients went live in 90 days, how confident are you that your system will make the deadline?EVERY order management system (OMS) company is going to claim they can do this. The ridiculous part is that even the massive systems and ERP vendors make this claim. Get serious! Realistically there is little chance this can happen. Once the vendor starts pitching pulling out your old system, and replacing it with an entirely new ERP or Unified Commerce system… don’t bank on this being quick or painless. It is not.

If this is what you truly need, then account for the time you will need, realistically. However, despite the continual pitches about single vendor unified commerce (SVUC) systems being the answer to all questions – keep your wits. Seek out a good systems integrator. They can pull together a far superior multi-vendor unified commerce solution that distantly outclasses the single vendor solutions, and it can deploy quickly and intelligently. For example, a robusT OMS / DOM can be deployed as quickly as 90 days. Companies like OrderDynamics also give retailers the flexibility to deploy in a phased approach – if that is more appropriate for their needs. It also means that your entire project could be phased in to get you the unified commerce technology you need without the massive pain of a full overhaul.

Regardless of the pitches, make sure to understand which customers were deployed within 90 days. Was is a small 3 store chain… or one with 400 stores? Match this to your chain size, and needs.

2. After Deploying – is the System Ready to go Out-of-The-Box?

Many order management systems are really baseline platforms. They are a platform on which you or a team of consultants / coders can built an order management system – by programming or scripting it. It has the benefit of giving you a fully customized solution – but it also puts the onus on you the customer to design, architect, take responsibility and build the system. If you hire specialists to do so for you, that also is great, but make sure to budget in the extra costs and the additional time it will take to deploy the system.

In a way, this is like a car dealership selling you a car, and getting it to you on time. But the extra box next to your car is the engine, that you have to assemble yourself. Good Luck! If you are an auto mechanic, you might love this. For the rest of us, this simply won’t work.

An out-of-the-box solution means that when it is deployed, it is ready to go. The engine is pre-assembled. Add gas (your data), and enjoy the highway of retail business success.

3. Is it a Rip & Replace Pitch – or What You Really Need?

What questions should you ask your Order Managment vendor at the NRF 2018 show?Several order management systems are really only add-on modules to a larger ERP system, for example. Often the vendor leads with an OMS, with the deeper intention of carving out a bigger piece of pie. Sometimes it is a legitimate effort to make your retail operation more effective overall. However, many times, it is an over-sell job leaving the retailer with a huge new system with many sub-systems they neither use nor require. Sadly, this strategy often forklifts systems, and technologies that truly did not need to be replaced. Be weary of the large system sale, pitch. Not only are these a huge cost burden to your retail enterprise, they are usually nightmarishly long implementation cycles.

Best of Breed vendors, or working with a systems integrator can help here. Rather than trying to replace all your systems, they focus on what truly needs to be upgraded or added, to breath new life into your existing infrastructure. At the end of the day, this could be your most cost effective route.

 

Will the Real OMS Please Stand Up Whitepaper

4. Can the OMS Handle The Load?

Retail brings critical selling days. Be it Black Friday, Boxing Day, Singles Day, or Mothers Day – the order load skyrockets, and your system needs to handle it. You cannot afford to buy into a system that has not been load tested for high order volumes. We have seen some systems ripped out unceremoniously for exactly this reason (lack of scalability and capacity to keep up with the order volumes). Ask your vendor to fully disclose their load test results, and make sure it can climb to at least 5x-10x (five-ten times) your average hourly load (think Black Friday).

5. Is The Order Management Technology Based on Best of Breed Technology?

A core system like a distributed order management system needs to be based on best in class technologyLike the load test question, you need a core system like the distributed order management system to be based on best in class technology. Many add on systems to ERP, POS or eCommerce platforms are light systems, maintained by the vendor, but FAR from best-in-class technology. Don’t sell your retail business and brand short. The costs for order management technology may be similar across vendors, but make sure each is earning their keep with a focused and concerted effort to keep your OMS technology at the top of the field. Why would you want to buy a light system for the same cost as an advanced solution that will have you covered for years to come?

Don’t discount all large systems with add-on modules. Some vendors have wisely partnered with best-of-breed order management systems vendors. This means the OMS in their solution might actually be a top performing system. Just make sure they are giving you the top tier system, for your needs.

6. Are The Five Key Parts of a Retail Order Management System Covered?

The five core components of a robust order management system are:

  • Robust Order Orchestration
  • Intelligent Order Routing
  • Real-Time Inventory Visibility
  • Returns Management
  • Business Intelligence & Simulation

For a full description on any of these elements, refer to the free whitepaper: “Will the REAL OMS Please Standup?”

7. How Does the OMS Seamlessly Integrate With Other Systems?

NRF 2018: Get the question you need to ask your technology vendors when it comes to Order Management. Your retail order management vendor must have a robust strategy for how it easily and seamlessly interconnects with other systems and applications. Order management is the heart of modern retail systems. It needs to interconnect with almost every sub-system in a retailer’s technology mix. That means playing nicely with technology provided by many other vendors. Have your OMS vendor explain how their system interconnects with the rest of the retail technology world. This is where a vendor should have standard interconnections like a Demandware Cartridge, standard API libraries, the ease of using Web Services for system integrations, or partnerships with microservice connector / middleware offerings.

What you don’t want to do is buy into a solution with a vendor that only really connects well with their own solutions. You want to keep the door open to the possibility that you may want to change your WMS, or connect with key ECP’s like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Episerver, Big Commerce, Shopify Plus, Magento, or other such well established industry standard systems.

The above is but a few of the considerations you have to keep in mind when talking to the different vendors at NRF 2018. And if you are there, don’t forget to swing by Booth #240. We would love to discuss the above and some more advanced Order Management features as well.

 

Author:

Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Director 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: 

5 Signs Your Company Needs An OMS

Want to Know More About Distributed Order Management?

Retail Order Fulfillment: Is there a better way?