With omnichannel excellence fast becoming a customer imperative, retailers and brands alike are rushing to operationalize an increasingly complex set of cross-channel order processing and fulfillment scenarios that are often referred to in aggregate as “buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere”. In fact in recent survey, we found that 52% of eBusiness professionals ranked omnichannel integration as a top technology investment priority.

The path to omnichannel maturity is far from simple; in fact it requires execution across a set of tactics that span organization, process and technology. Front of mind for retailers is solving the basics such as store pickup, cross-channel inventory visibility, store based fulfillment and endless aisle (in-store) ordering. Today, retailers that have already enabled these capabilities have done so by developing custom applications that integrate their eCommerce, POS and ERP/supply chain systems. However as these capabilities rapidly become the ‘norm’ for the consumer, retailers seek packaged solutions that enable them to rapidly rollout, experiment with and scale these programs.

Enter the OMS (order management system). In our May 2013 survey only 17% of eBusiness professionals identified the investment in an OMS platform as an investment priority, however this relative lack of interest is in fact easy to explain:

  1. Many retailers are still in the nascent phases of their omnichannel journey and have yet to fully map out their requirements. Simply put, these retailers still need to make the connection between the capabilities of an OMS platform and the requirements of their omnichannel strategy.
  2. OMS technology has historically been the domain of supply chain professionals; however in 2014 eBusiness professionals are now stakeholders too as the online buyer demands an integrated customer experience between the online and offline worlds.
  3. An increasing number of retailers are turning to their eCommerce platform vendor to meet their omnichannel and OMS technology needs. As retailers re-platform their eCommerce technology, some are increasing scope to include a simultaneous upgrade of their OMS capabilities.
  4. Having a mature, embedded OMS capability has become an imperative for the leading eCommerce vendors, all of whom share a strategic vision to own the customer transactional lifecycle across all channels (online, mobile, contact center and stores). This need for OMS as a core capability of eCommerce has driven a recent flurry of acquisitions:

Now Demandware have followed suit with their acquisition last week of long-term OMS partner Mainstreet Commerce. The acquisition will enable Demandware to fully support Omni-channel, drop ship and other order orchestration and lifecycle management capabilities to their existing clients and prospects. Forrester clients considering Demandware for eCommerce will find the addition of an integrated SaaS order management capability a welcome addition that fills what was until last week a significant void in Demandware’s capability map.

Over the next few months Adam Silverman and I will be taking a closer look at the relative capabilities of the leading order management solutions available on the market in our forthcoming Wave “Order Management Solutions, Q2 2014”. We’ll be looking closely at how the eCommerce and OMS vendors enable omnichannel order fulfillment scenarios as well as support traditional post submission order orchestration capabilities such as drop shipping, split shipments and an enterprise single view of inventory. For clients that are looking at an investment in OMS technology in the near future – don’t wait for the Wave to be published, please schedule an inquiry with us – we would love to hear about your omnichannel challenges and aspirations.