Omni-Channel Order Management Strategies for Success

omni-channel order managementI recently wrote an article about the factors contributing to the growth of the omni-channel order management system (OMS) market. Some of these factors include changing customer expectations, the rise of B2B use cases, the store’s changing role in the retail landscape, and the use of artificial intelligence. However, adoption rates of an omni-channel OMS application have remained relatively flat. The big reason for a lack of adoption is the problems that arise with integration.

What was once a simple integration-point now requires 10 layers of interaction points and a slew of business rules to bridge the gap.  There are significant challenges from an integration standpoint, in terms of both technology and business processes, that are slowing the growth and overall expansion of omni-channel operations. However, the fear of integration issues should not deter companies from investing in an omni-channel OMS. An omni-channel OMS allows an organization to capture all information in the order management process across all relevant channels.  All fulfillment channels have access to the information, and the retailer can appropriately allocate the inventory depending on stock levels, demand requirements, and timing of fulfillment. This can play a huge role in improving customer satisfaction while also making fulfillment operations more efficient and profitable.

As the market evolves and becomes more mature, ARC has recommendations for both buyers and suppliers of omni-channel OMS applications.

Strategies for Buyers

Research OMS Purchases. This goes without saying, but buyers need to do their due diligence to ensure they are buying the right solutions. OMS solutions come in a variety of models, and understanding what criteria best meet your needs is critical.  These criteria include whether to buy an on-premise solution or to go with a cloud solution, how much integration is needed with your current IT stack, and what the upgrade cycle looks like.

Minimize Customizations. OMS solutions offered by the leading suppliers are highly configurable.  Generally, there are rarely good reasons to customize the base code.  Those customers that do end up paying for the customization experience the headaches associated with longer implementations and increased difficulty in upgrading their solutions.  There is a much better return on investment (ROI) from going with the base package, even if that means modifying existing processes.

Don’t Fear Change. The changing nature of the global economy is ushering in a new era of solutions.  A lot of times retailers are slow to embrace change and will not fully invest in new solutions.  An omni-channel OMS is going to be a crucial part of omni-channel strategies moving forward; getting onboard now will set you up for future success.

Strategies for Product Suppliers

Look to the Cloud. SaaS solutions are becoming increasingly popular in the industry, and this does not just apply to smaller companies that are targeting Tier 2 and Tier 3 customers.  A robust SaaS solution offers the same features and functionality as an on-premise solution but can be deployed quicker and generally more cost-efficiently.  Companies need to build a SaaS offering into their near-term growth plan to remain competitive in a crowded market.

Continue to Innovate. As customer expectations continue to change, so too does technology.  Incorporating machine learning into the OMS platform is one way to help make more cost-efficient decisions on how to fulfill orders. This will end up saving time and money in the long run and contribute to increased customer satisfaction.

Target High Growth Markets. Companies need to target high growth markets.  From a high growth market perspective, ARC advises companies to look at the Tier 2 market. While the majority of the largest players is actively targeting the Tier 1 market, there are more and more smaller companies venturing into the omni-channel world.  This second tier of customers will continue to claim its share of the market and provide an excellent area of growth for suppliers.

Conclusion

The omni-channel OMS market is poised for significant growth over the next five to ten years. This is due to the changing nature of the global economy, the rise of e-commerce, and the shift in customer expectations when it comes to service. Retailers need to make the investment in the technology, as it is the backbone of a truly omni-channel experience. Suppliers need to continue to innovate to help their customers meet the changing demands of their customers. As the market matures and solutions become more advanced, the sky is the limit for where this technology can go.