Order management and fulfillment has gotten more complicated. We all know that. At one time, the order management process might have been as simple as taking the order, applying the lead time, meeting the desired order delivery date, tracking the order status, invoicing the customer, and handling any subsequent returns. Multichannel commerce has changed this, while customers have become more demanding.
As many companies’ operations have become more complex, through organic growth, mergers and acquisitions, or outsourcing of production or fulfillment operations, what has evolved in many cases is an installed base of multiple internal order management systems that are not integrated with one another. These silos can prove to be a real obstacle to offering a satisfactory customer experience, much less an acceptable consistent, cross-channel customer experience.
To make matters worse, the cost of an imperfect order has certainly increased, not decreased. So the consequences of flaws or discontinuities in the order management process have greater implications than they might have had at one time.
Against this backdrop, scores of companies are pursuing a strategy of “buy anywhere, sell anywhere, fulfill anywhere, return anywhere” to satisfy these ever-increasing customer expectations, and to be able to do so with greater operational agility.
Distributed order management has been around for a while; the advent of multichannel commerce has increased the focus on increasingly sophisticated order management systems that can be much more channel agnostic.
Order Management Solutions
The vendor community has responded to these new realities with order management solutions with broader, deeper capabilities, particularly in areas such as the following:
Solutions from vendors such as IBM (Sterling Distributed Order Management), Manhattan Associates, Oracle, SAP, Softeon, and Syncron, in particular, offer order management capabilities that are worth looking at. The space is even attracting new vendors, such as Lettuce, to service the needs of small to medium businesses (SMBs).
Recommendations for End Users
Companies that are pursuing a multichannel commerce strategy really need to assess the capabilities of their order management systems to rise to the competitive challenge and to meet customers’ expectations. As the customer experience has become more important to customers, and is often one of the major decisive factors in whom a customer wants to do business with, companies need to recognize the importance of their order management systems to the customer experience, and to commit to meeting customer expectations.
Companies need to be aware and think about things such as the following:
What is your channel strategy, and what are you doing to align your order management strategy?