The Questions You Have to Ask Order Management Vendors at NRF 2019
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Categories: Retail Events

The Questions You Have to Ask Order Management Vendors at NRF 2019

Retail’s Big Show is exactly as the name says. It is really big! And NRF 2019 looks like it will be no different. With over 37 000 industry professionals attending, hundreds of vendors and a multitude of talks and events, it can get overwhelming, fast! So, to make the most of your NRF 2019 experience, it is always a good idea to go to the show prepared. Make sure you know what speakers you want to see, which networking events you have to be at and which vendors you want to talk to.

But when it comes to the vendors you want to talk to, you should do a little preparation. With all the information that is being thrown at you over the three days, make sure to have a system by which to analyze and remember the key vendors. Otherwise, you’re just going to miss asking the questions that count.

To help you through this busy time, here are a collection of questions to help you prepare for your retail order management needs.

Still doing your in-store fulfillments manually? Meet us at NRF 2019 at Booth #240What Should You Ask Your Retail Order Management Vendor?

Make sure you ask the Order Management vendors that you will visit at NRF 2019 the following.  Just save this list to your phone, and you’ll be ready to go!

Technology Questions

1. Is Your Technology SaaS-Based or On-Prem?

This is a very old argument – but for some reason, some people still go with on-premise retail software. Rather, make sure the order management vendor you are considering is SaaS-based. These days, every single vendor’s immediate answer should be ‘cloud-based’. But, there are still those hold-outs that insist the old on-premise ways are best. Cloud-based technology means you get automatic (and more frequent) updates. There are fewer upfront and long-term costs and fewer staff resources needed to run the system.

2. Is Your Order Management Technology Out-of-the-Box or Does it Need Custom Coding?

This once again affects your staffing resources. If you have a system that is custom coded, you will need a developer to make changes. Not a big deal, except that EVERY TIME you want to make an adjustment, you need to book time at your cost. It also means your implementation could be an extremely long and tedious process. Remember the stories about the ‘never-ending’ IT projects? Don’t let this happen to your DOM project, or to your career. Almost every system needs a bit of custom coding on the periphery… but the main system needs to be an out-of-the-box solution.

3. How Often Does the Retail Tech Vendor Update?

Even if it is a SaaS-based vendor, it doesn’t mean that they will be doing regular updates to their software (especially if Order Management is not their main focus). You want someone that is doing at least 4 – 6 updates a year. This makes sure you are not only staying ahead with your Order Management software but also that you have fewer security concerns.

4. How Long Does Implementation Take? How Long does the Order Management implementation take?

Implementation will vary depending on your needs and existing infrastructure. But you want to make sure that your order management vendor has done an implementation similar to yours in the timeframe that you are looking for. Ask about details here, and with which of their customers you can discuss the implementation experience.

5. On What Platform is the Technology Build?

Choosing a Retail Order Management vendor that has their platform build on AWS is like giving money to Amazon. Yes, be on their marketplace, and drive more sales & brand awareness this way. But, don’t feed the crocodile! Especially not the one that sees you as a juicy, margin enhancing snack.

6. What is the Peak Order Volume Capacity?

Scaling is essential for retail order management solutions. Just think Black Friday and Boxing Day. There are too many horror stories about system failures when the volumes scaled. Make sure the solution you consider will scale with you on those days. Oh, and ask for proof they can substantiate. It’s an easy thing to say that your system is scalable – while at a trade-show. It is a whole other story to prove it with field volumes, and capacity stress test results.

7. With which major ECP Systems (and Other Tech Vendors) does the Solution Successfully Integrate?

Flexibility and interconnectivity are important. Yes, all of the order management vendors want you to move to their unified commerce system that only contains their own products. That’s a nice scenario, but most retailers live in the real world. That means you have to use what you’ve already got. Or you may want to pick the best of breed technologies that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

To do this you will need retail technology designed and built to integrate easily with other systems. Ask about Salesforce, Episerver, the Cegid POS, BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, PCMS, or other vendors with which your system needs to interconnect seamlessly. Every order management system needs to think about working seamlessly in the retail technology ecosystem.

8. How Easy is it to Change Business Rules? How easy is it to change the business rules?

This is something that you want to be able to do quickly, without much fuss. If winter is warmer than expected, then you need to change your business rules, perhaps to fulfill from stores – to blow out your cold-winter merchandise. Making this type of change should be easy, and cannot require bringing in a coder to make the adjustments. Everyone will tell you they can do this… but ask to speak to a few customers about this one, too.

9. Is the System PCI and SOC2 Complaint?

With the number of security hacks you hear about, it is more important than ever to ensure you are taking every step to protect your customers. Ensuring that a key system like order management has the necessary security measure in place, is a must-have element.

10. Does the System Provide a Centralized Customer/Order Record?

Having one view of your customer is important, not only for things like marketing and offering relevant content, but also to help catch returns abusers.


1. Does the System Facilitate Click and Collect Orders, Ship-to-Store and Ship-from-Store?

This is no longer just nice to have but rather must-have features. Make sure your omnichannel strategy thrives with these fulfillment options.

What about multi-currency and multi-lingual capabilities?

2. Does the System Provide Multi-Currencies and Multi-Lingual Capabilities?

Global isn’t a choice anymore. And even if you are not doing it right now, you want to ensure that when you do grow to the global level, your retail technology will grow with you.

3. Can the Order Management System Pull Together All Inventory Positions to Provide Real-Time Inventory Visibility Online – Even Down to the In-Store Shelf Level?

Showing your customer that you have the stock and where exactly that stock is could save the sale. Make sure you provide the most up-to-date information to your retail customers with real-time inventory visibility.

4. Does the System Offer Safety Stock and Inventory Virtualization Options?

On the other hand, you also do not always want to show your customers all the stock in a specific store. If you know that you will have a lot of walk-ins for a specific item, don’t run out. Make sure you can set up things like safety stock.

5. Can the System Accept Receipt-Free Returns and Add Sellable Returned Merchandise Straight Back Into Inventory?

There is not a person in retail that doesn’t hate returns. So dealing with them in the most effective and efficient manner is important. Make sure you can offer your customers features such as receipt-free returns while making sure you get the returns items back out for sale as soon as possible.

6. Does the System Include an Advanced Analytics?

Data is king. And setting a business rule to a specific setting on only gut-feelings is just not going to work. Make sure that you can back up your order management decisions with advanced analytics.

7. Does the Order Routing Engine Allow for Complex and Multiple Order Routing Rules?

Just routing from the DC does not make for the strongest omnichannel retail strategy. Your Order management solution has to give you the option to set multiple order routing rules as well as complex ones. Such as routing from the DC only if store a, b, c, e and f only 5 items in stock and store d has less than 3 items in stock. (just saying – it should be possible)

8. Does it Include Advanced Features such as Order Consolidations, Split Payments, Shipping Rate Brokering and Preorders?

Once you have ensured that the system does the basics really well, check what other features you have. Things like order consolidation, split payments, shipping rate brokering and preorders not only make your customers happier (and more loyal) but they can also help with your bottom line.

Make the Most of Your NRF 2019 Experience

With the limited time you have with each vendor, these 18 questions are the basics of what you need to know when looking for an order management solution at NRF 2019. From there you can do a deeper dive.

Check out “Will the Real OMS Please Stand Up” whitepaper for an even more in-depth look at what key features should be included in your OMS.  And don’t forget to book your 30-minute one-on-one meeting with our Order Management specialists to discuss your omnichannel needs.



Steve Bielawski

Steve Bielawski is SVP, Sales and Marketing at OrderDynamics. Steve brings over 25 years of extensive sales, sales management and marketing experience in software application solutions and services. The last 8 years has been exclusively focused on digital commerce, Omni-Channel solutions and related services for brands and retailers around the world.