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“If it ain’t broke, why fix it”

Many retailers may not realize that an outdated (and sometimes inaccurate) system might be stealing from their profit margin. Issues of scale are usually paramount, with old and bloated systems requiring constant patches or upgrades to function as businesses grow and diversify their channels.

Another way legacy systems can cause unnecessary headaches is how they limit retailers’ ability to innovate with new omnichannel shopping experiences. With a monolithic system, it can become increasingly difficult to develop and deploy new applications. As customers’ expectations rise and competition intensifies, retailers need an Order Management System (OMS) that provides them with the flexibility they need to easily integrate with other systems and best-of-breed applications to, ultimately, go to market faster with unique use cases that will set them apart from other retailers.

Assessing your existing Order Management System

The retail industry is no longer defined by retailers; it must now adapt to retail customers’ channel usage, preferences, and consumer habits. That said, how can retailers know when it is time to leave their traditional OMS platform behind?

There are many ways to answer this question, and it usually involves an audit of internal processes, even when management has a strong idea of where the inefficiencies lie. Retailers must be honest with themselves about where pain points are, both internally and with customers. This means asking employees involved in the sales, channel management, inventory, customer service, and product fulfillment process. Which activities take up the most unnecessary time and keep them from reaching aggressive sales goals?

To evaluate customer pain points, go to the source. Reviews and customer complaints are a great place to start. Today’s customers are vocal and opinionated. They will let retailers know how they have failed to live up to their expectations. Gather this data from online reviews, comments on social media, and feedbacks from in-store sales associates to get an idea of what customers are happy with and where your brand fell short.

Once you have completed your audit, combine pain points from key employees and customers and analyze your results for trends and indicators that your OMS may be falling short, process-wise.

Assessing your existing Order Management System

Common signs that an Order Management System is at fault may include:

  • Lack of clarity regarding inventory: Key employees might not know where inventory is located, which items have been “reserved,” and when new items will be available.
  • Dealing with customer confusion during key sales and marketing campaigns: This is a question for your customer service team. Ask them about major campaigns over the past year—were customers confused? Were essential employees aware of the details of the campaign?
  • Managing discounting, particularly across platforms: Is a single discounting tool being used for relevant promotions? Are there times when, depending on the channel, a customer can get a better deal? How are discounts across platforms reported and measured?
  • Having trouble with real-time inventory: As different channels “claim” existing inventory that might not register in disparate channel systems, omni challenge retailing strategy can break down. Inventory confusion means extra phone calls, meetings, and overtime hours spent in the warehouse
  • Unreliability with current OMS: Features and functionalities that were added piecemeal to the system might not work as intended, causing one channel to fall behind in the marketing stack. Many retailers find that their app or social media ordering is not where they would like it to be.
  • Issues with discounting: Over-discounting, faulty discount codes across platforms, and loyal customers who see better deals elsewhere will breed distrust for your brand. While the traditional retail mentality might be that everyone loves a discount, omnichannel marketing and OMS expertise shies away from positioning retailers as a “discount brand” and instead focuses on demonstrating value. Additionally, nothing enrages a loyal customer quicker than feeling that everyone else is paying less than them for the same products.
  • Lack of product availability: It’s great to be popular, but it’s not so great when customers are unable to get their hands on the products they were initially interested in. Does your OMS inform customers about when to expect inventory and notify them when it arrives? Are they able to source inventory through varying channels where the product may be available?
  • Inflexible return process: Today’s consumers don’t have the free time that previous generations had, and their shopping habits reflect this lack of leisure time. Customers want to be able to buy today, return easily, and hop between channels at their convenience. If an OMS cannot handle a flexible and user-friendly return process, it is time to seriously consider upgrading.
  • Confusing brand merchandising experience: In previous decades, retailers were at the mercy of nascent ecommerce technology solutions in which a mobile site might not look anything like a desktop experience, which might look completely different from a brick and mortar store. This is no longer the case, and potential customers will be put off by a channel that feels cheap or outdated. Keep in mind that consumers no longer simply compare competitors, they also compare best-in-class retail experiences from other product categories.

While a leading omnichannel Order Management System provides a great deal of robust technology and functionality, the ultimate goal is to please customers. And customers are simple—they want it all! They want to buy anywhere and fulfill their purchase anywhere. Secondly, in a choice-heavy consumer-driven market, they are seeking a positive and frictionless retail experience—whether in-store, online, or anywhere in between. To be successful, retailers must transform themselves into digital-first companies that respond to customer expectations at lightning speed.

Getting down to work

Now that you are familiar with the common signs that indicate when you should consider changing or upgrading your OMS, it’s time to take the next step by looking inward. Schedule a meeting with key employees in your organization to talk about pain points and how your order management system is measuring up the challenges and opportunities posed by your customers.

Next, you will be able to confidently evaluate what your business needs to be a forward-thinking retailer today and remain one tomorrow. For any help in taking the first steps, guidance for building unique omnichannel experiences, or to learn more about Orckestra's API-first omnichannel order management and fulfillment solution, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts.