By Shine Mathew
Implementing a new ecommerce engine or an OMS (order management system) both come with their own myriad collection of intricacies. When choosing between which one to implement first it’s crucial to understand the complexities these implementations face, to do this it’s first necessary to evaluate the underlying purposes of each implementation and which areas they focus on.
Implementing an ecommerce platform is often an exercise in evaluation of your customer’s purchasing journey and the creation of all the necessary content for brand awareness, a successful one demands an understanding of your customer. The aim is often to improve in the above areas with new capabilities, faster time to market and a sleeker design.
An OMS implementation is driven by a need or desire to enhance the customer journey post-purchase, i.e., you’ve already gone through all the necessary steps to convert them into a customer, but their experience isn’t over until your product is in their hands and so how can you make that last leg of the journey seamless for them? This ability to enhance the post purchase experience is then reflected in the online store, with real time inventory availability. The complexity of an OMS implementation arises simply from the degree of functionality required by the end user.
The areas of complexity in these implementations are broad and regularly tailored to the specific businesses undertaking the implementation.
Understanding Areas of Complexity
An eCommerce implementation’s challenges revolve around data, tools, people, and process. The first challenge is usually about providing information correctly and using the data provided to you, understanding the customer who’s coming in and what to show them which then drives the content strategy on the website. From this what tools do you need to manage that content and are there enough of them? How complex are those tools? and can they be managed by someone who isn’t a developer or part of the IT team? If you want to provide more autonomy to the team performing their tasks on a day-to-day basis, then you need to make sure these things are accounted for. Do merchandisers have enough tools to easily perform their activities as they’d like day to day? All of these factor in to the backend point of view during implementation and selection.
Successful eCommerce implementations aren’t just about technological complexity. As mentioned earlier, it’s also about the people and processes that drive your strategy forward. All successful eCommerce businesses have one thing in common: they’ve implemented an organizational change in their management process. Most organizations have legacy systems, processes, and sometimes even people that keep them from being able to innovate digitally. Changing management and processes to account for their new level of digital maturity should go in lockstep with the implementation, but this isn’t an easy task and for some, is best undertaken gradually
It takes a team effort to implement and manage an eCommerce site, so a good start is remembering that your eCommerce initiative is not a ‘lone wolf’ project relegated to your IT team, although they should certainly be involved. You’ll need to consider hiring dedicated people to manage day-to-day site management duties such as making product updates, developing new content, and troubleshooting technical issues if you want to manage the project without third party support.
When considering OMS, it’s primary aspect is inventory visibility, does your current system provide inventory visibility? that visibility is needed to tell you how to fulfil orders efficiently and to provide granularity to your consumers. Much of the complexity as mentioned comes from the degree of functionality you require, so a close examination of exactly what you require from an OMS will give you a list of items to consider for your implementation. You have to consider; does the implementation provide the flexibility to change the fulfilment orders based on market trends? The importance of this showed when Covid hit, many businesses had a lot of store stock which wasn’t available/couldn’t be utilised due to it not being in their stock system as they only tracked their warehouse stock. When considering OMS implementation, it’s imperative to think about building a flexible solution that covers all inventory so you can configure it to the market needs and meet fluctuations in demand.
Other complexities range across a handful of topics. For example, if you lack something in one country can you import inventory from the nearest country with the stock you require if the system is international? Is this a necessary or simply helpful requirement for you? how can you make use of every inventory available? This is some of the best sophistication you can bring into an OMS.
If you don’t have an OMS then your fulfilment can be very different across countries, standardising your system is an essential part of implementing an OMS so that format to be considered. Ideally you would want roughly 90% of your shipping solutions to be the same across territories, developing fulfilment templates helps greatly as you can transport these across markets making expansion easier, they can save you a lot of time going to market in new areas and help simplify your maintenance.
Often, fulfilment practices are in place due to legacy systems, not due to the requirements of that locale and therefore not customised to that locale. Building flexible, adaptable architecture is essential. Many companies simply have an eCommerce website and then have an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system with nothing in between, Often ERP systems lack flexibility and can’t make changes based on need, you also can’t modify their systems as easily; returns and order amendment are generally difficult in these systems, bringing an OMS in between allows Orchestrating based on your need which is often the best practice This layer lets you make the system future ready which is one of the most important factors in any implementation. Bringing all your stock together to use as a whole naturally demands a lot of complexity due to the nature of the functionality required that has to be both defined and then realised.
Want to discuss the complexities you might face in managing your own implementation? Talk to us here!