Commerce has to be unified in the eyes of consumers. But let’s face it; inventory fulfillment feels far from unified without a consolidated system to handle orders from a variety of channels. OMS and DOM (distributed order management systems) hold the key. But why, how, and how well is the retail industry doing?
Most retailers would like to say they’ve arrived at unified commerce – whereby they offer personalized products where and how their customers want them, with fast delivery and no mistakes. But our omnichannel report with Retail Dive reveals that most are not equipped to fulfill their promises.
For many, it’s too much chaos going on behind the scenes.
The crucial puzzle piece
Real-time distributed order management systems and order management systems enable seamless integration and coordination of various channels, touchpoints, and systems. These technologies ensure the brand consistency, accuracy of available inventory, flexible delivery options, tracking, and personalized experiences that consumers expect within a unified ecommerce environment.
So why are they ignored?
First, let’s dive into the importance and benefits of unified commerce, its impact on fulfillment operations, barriers keeping the industry from OMS and distributed order management systems, and strategies to accelerate your journey.
Consumers are driving the car
Products are sold, delivered, picked up, and returned everywhere. Consumers can change their purchasing behaviors last-minute, and still expect a unified commerce fulfillment experience that’s flexible and seamless. No excuses.
Retailers know this is table stakes. But the current rush to offer more personalized products, options, and channels has turned inventory fulfillment operations inside out.
Fulfillment teams are tied to the bumper
In the earlier days of retail, inventory could be managed in data silos. Today, shoppers’ habits and preferences are too fluid – and dictated by the product they’re buying, when they’re buying it, pricing, availability, or simply the wild hair they got that day.
Consumers don’t care if you are a mom-and-pop or enterprise retailer. No more hall passes for stock-outs, late, missed, or incorrect deliveries. If the technology responsible for keeping this all straight does not share that same unified mindset, you have no business saying you’re a ‘unified commerce’ business.
Investments like OMS and distributed order management systems put the “unified” into unified commerce. They bridge the gap between the shopping freedoms consumers want and the supply chain execution brands can deliver at scale.
Unified commerce – Is the juice worth the squeeze?
Yes. According to our report, 87% of retail executives agree. But only 25% of retailers are completely satisfied with how “unified” their omnichannel strategy really is. One must ask WHY? Are they losing too much margin on execution? Do they lack the right analytics to identify problems in the first place? These numbers feel alien to the world we live in.
If you define unified commerce as having a website and marketplace, then it’s time to go deeper. Unified omnichannel retail fulfillment is a sophisticated model that involves proactively engaging with customers with the right inventory, at the right time, and right place.
Which channels provide the greatest volume?
Despite obvious growth in ecommerce, brick-and-mortar provides the majority of sales volume for 60% of retailers. But it’s a mixed bag that’s always changing, according to the report:
- 30% of retailers say their customers want a stronger online presence
- 17% want a stronger brick-and-mortar presence
- 17% say customers aren’t asking for anything, which proves they’re not asking the right questions
- 19% don’t even have data on what their customers want!
83% of retailers already use some sort of omnichannel fulfillment technologies to chase these preferences, but only 42% have confidence in those systems.
What’s standing in the way of tech progress?
Retailers value automated solutions like OMS and distributed order management systems that weave together channels, closing data gaps that have costly consequences. But investments remain under-prioritized.
The biggest obstacles are lack of time, resources, or in-house technical talent (58% of respondents). Many still believe they need enterprise-sized IT teams and budgets. Clearly, that’s no longer practical or possible. [Or necessary].
The right order management and DOM software partner will:
- Evaluate current performance
- Map out a scalable growth path and predictable spend
- Right-size the solution, not just sell a cookie-cutter platform built their way
- Roll it out quickly with knowledgeable, professional, and consistent support as you grow
A partner’s focus should drive the brand’s journey forward with highly efficient, effective ways to operate in changing environments. Once retailers realize that, it becomes harder to find a reason to delay putting technology like OMS and distributed order management systems in place.
DOM systems, a top priority
The question always comes back to: how do you continuously differentiate to attract the attention of customers, while still increasing your own profitability?
High-growth brands are investing in better personalizing the online experience (37%), bringing a more human element to the online experience (21%), and improving the in-store experience with technology (29%).
OMS and distributed order management systems allow them to add or move freely from one channel to another and facilitate new trends – such as shopping visits becoming more like leisurely experiences than errands. Or new opportunities for cross-fertilization and new partnerships, like a store-in-a-store concept, that unlock new revenue streams.
All of this makes a pretty stunning business case for distributed order management systems that offer real-time transparency, adaptability, and scalability.
How should you measure the success of your unified commerce tech investment? The litmus test is how quickly your brand can pivot – and how much profit erosion you’ll face – to stay relevant as evolution picks up.