Why You Need Distributed Order Management in a Customer-Centric Retail World

Why You Need Distributed Order Management in a Customer-Centric Retail World

people working in a warehouse

Distributed Order Management (DOM) software can help solve many of the challenges that retailers face in this new omnichannel world. Unlike traditional order management systems, which lack the flexibility to support multiple channels, a distributed order management system works to unify a business by blending multiple platforms. This system provides visibility into inventory across the supply chain while not impacting the customer experience and keeping the bottom line in check.

Retail has become increasingly customer-centric. Plus the stakes are higher than ever to keep up with demand. Consumers want the ability to buy a product from multiple channels and in a variety of ways. That can mean moving from a web browser on their desktop computer to an app on their phone; some even want to buy an item on their mobile device while browsing in a physical store.

Shoppers also now want options in how they receive their purchase, whether that means fulfilling their order in-store or to their home.

In response, many businesses have adopted an omnichannel approach to distribution—and with that are encountering an entirely new set of challenges. Ensuring both physical stores and ecommerce platforms seamlessly work together is not an easy task. This is where distributed order management comes into play.

What Is Distributed Order Management (DOM)?

Distributed order management helps fulfill customer orders with rule-based procedures that allow retailers to maximize order fulfillment while meeting customer expectations at the lowest cost possible. Often these two constraints must be traded off over the other. For example, you delight the customer, but shipping costs were higher than the product purchased. Or on the flip side, you keep costs low by not offering two-day shipping but lose a customer to Amazon.

A distributed order management system will work to improve those supply chain kinks by automating key functions. Those include:

  • Synchronizing order routing and inventory data with all sales channels and fulfillment centers
  • Processing orders from multiple sales channels
  • Shipping
  • Inventory forecasting and reordering
  • Inventory management

In addition to improving how a company processes and manages customer orders, a distributed order management system can help streamline stock replenishment by connecting your technology to a central platform. This central platform offers one viewpoint of every item in your inventory.

A distributed order management system can also process orders from multiple sales channels and route them to the best fulfillment center—and may even be able to select the best shipper. This creates faster order turnaround with more accuracy at lower costs.

Not only can a distributed order management system automatically route orders, it prioritizes fulfillment of each order against others and can manage back orders and pre-orders for upcoming product launches.

Why Retailers Need Distributed Order Management

Distributed order management software can help solve many of the challenges retailers face in today’s omnichannel world. The retailers that will benefit most from distributed order management are already facing friction in several areas of their business. The following are examples of such retailers.

Retailers working with a high number of product suppliers often struggle to manage those relationships and track product data. DOM systems can help manage this information and track how and when a retailer orders from their suppliers.

Retailers with more than two warehouses can also benefit from DOM systems. The more warehouses, the more difficult it is to keep track of inventory. Add to that 3PL warehouses and dropshippers, and a distributed order management system becomes essential in consolidating data across all sources. The system also gives retailers access to that data at anytime, anywhere.

A SKU portfolio that has grown to the hundreds and thousands is no longer manageable on a spreadsheet. Retailers facing a growing SKU portfolio are looking to distributed order management to give them a view of these products and which channels they’re available.

A lack of connectedness across a retailer’s current technology solutions is also a problem. DOM decreases the added risk of tech silos by bringing all processes together. Retailers without a central technological platform can also stunt growth. A distributed order management system can create a single data hub and help companies manage their data before challenges arise that make it harder to grow.

Distributed Order Management Software Selection Process

Identifying your requirements is the first and most important step in selecting the best distributed order management system. Of course, this list should be comprehensive and unique to your business. For example, you may ask yourself questions, such as, “Do we need to purchase order support for B2B ecommerce? Do we want to enable customers to choose their delivery date? Will we enable customers to set up recurring orders?”

Once you have a clear view of your needs and their importance, you are ready to select a vendor. Consider drafting a proposal that includes your must-have technical requirements, as well as wish-list core features.

Here are a few examples of elements to include in your proposal:

  • Order volumes
  • SKUs
  • Details of existing vendor landscape
  • List of current software
  • Systems acquisition process timeline
  • Detailed breakdown of training processes

While selecting from a list of distributed order management vendors, make sure to do your own research, too. Don’t just take vendors at their word. Check out for yourself whether the order management software does all that you were told it does. One of the best ways to ensure this is by making use of vendor trials and demos that show real capabilities in action. Also be sure to ask to review success stories from existing clients, or to speak to a vendor’s client base directly as an added reference.

Keep in mind, you may not be able to find a vendor that can fulfill all your requirements. It is important to consider what requirements you may be willing to trade off while still guaranteeing that your most vital needs are met.

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