Article Series

Pandemic Exposes Cracks in Retail Technology

Crack 2 – Fully Integrated Order Management

Oct 31, 2020
   |   by 
Rick Boretsky

The pandemic has exposed fundamental weaknesses in the system foundation of many retailers. In this six-part series, we explore the five most obvious foundational cracks and discover what retailers are doing about it. This blog focuses on the challenges of fully integrating Order Management Systems into a modern omni-channel retailer’s operation.

This is not the first time we have addressed Order Management Integration. (See our “pre-pandemic” blog series on this topic.)

We think of your Order Management System as the new “epicenter” of your technology. It is where your suppliers, supply chain, products, channels, and inventory meet your customers. Friction in your omni-channel order flow can be extremely harmful in the context of pandemic retailing. You may do your best to mask this friction from your customer, but if it results in customer inconveniences then you are sure to destroy the customer loyalty you have worked so hard to establish. In pandemic retailing, shoppers are reassessing which retailers they trust with their shopping needs.

A fully integrated omni-channel retailer requires nothing less than a fully integrated order management system. Too many retailers have taken short cuts in the past and are living with cumbersome procedures that impact seamless and efficient order fulfillment. We call this the residual “silo” effect.

We have prepared a series of questions that will help you assess whether you have achieved a frictionless omni-channel operation.

Are your products described, presented, priced, merchandised, and promoted consistently on every channel?
Is “inventory availability” now an enterprise-wide measure? Can you distinguish available inventory from “on hand”, “reserved”, “in process”, etc.?
Can you fulfill orders sold in one channel from any other channel? This includes the capability to modify, expedite, delay, or cancel seamlessly between booking channels and fulfillment channels.
Is your reserved inventory shared between digital and brick-and-mortar channels?
Are you accounting for order fulfillment costs such as shipping and handling in your cost of sales calculation?
Is your merchandise planning system able to project sales and inventory for every channel and fulfillment option?
Do you have consistent technology for tracking customer interactions from call centers, stores, mobile, web, and marketplace?
Are your loyalty programs seamless across channels?
Are your payment systems common across selling channels?
Can your shoppers redeem gift cards, credit vouchers, or coupons across channels?
Are you successful in deploying such essential capabilities as BOPIS, BORIS, and curbside pickup?
Are you able to smoothly handle customers' returns across channels?
Are your supplier orders consolidating demand across channels?

Retailing success comes from eliminating any silo-based friction. The above list of questions will help you measure your progress against best practices. If your order management system is yet to be fully integrated into the fabric of your operation, it is time to remove that friction.

RIBA-Aydept has been working with its most progressive clients to rid themselves of the “silo” effect inherited from earlier retailing eras. This is vital work because your customers will no longer tolerate friction of any kind.

In our next blog, we will address how retailers are removing the system barriers that inhibit innovation in digital engagement.

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