Order management systems are the glue holding your omnichannel commerce operations together. If it’s been too long since you updated your order management system, you may be missing opportunities to better connect everything. There are a few possible reasons to stick with an outdated solution – it seems to be working fine, you think it may be disruptive to change – however, considering the benefits a distributed order management system potentially brings, it’s clear the move is worthwhile. With the holidays just ending, there’s no better time to make a change. You have fresh data on how that busy period of the year went, and can therefore see where improvement or change may be necessary. It may be surprising just how many practices are directly impacted by the OMS at the heart of your organization, but once you note these potential changes, it’ll be hard to say no to a new distributed OMS.

Breaking Down the Benefits

All it takes is a quick glimpse under the hood to see just how a modern OMS platform can transform an omnichannel supply chain. Breaking down these advantages offers an important reminder that today’s logistics operations have shifted drastically from the prevailing models even a few years back. With new channels to worry about, constant consumer demand for speed and efficiency, and ample competition in the field, the problems addressed by an OMS refresh are numerous and critical.

The many individual advantages offered by a modern distributed OMS can be split into two major categories: intelligent order routing and endless aisle inventory. The former refers to a new level of intelligence and automation underlying everyday operations, while the latter is all about unified visibility.

Intelligent Order Routing

Today’s commerce moves so quickly that it’s safe to say manual operations are no longer the best way to manage back-end systems. An intelligent OMS that can automatically detect information such as the most efficient location to ship merchandise from both increases operational speed and helps cut costs. Once this action has been completed, it’s important to automate the next step, too – updating inventory to ensure there is no confusion.

This process can help your organization stand out, passing great shipping costs and times on to your customers. In an era when loyalty is hard to hold onto and individuals can change brands at the drop of a hat, your main way to keep shoppers’ interest over time may be to give them an experience they appreciate and want to repeat. When you have a backend system that facilitates quick and affordable delivery, making use of your whole inventory, these conditions become part of your brand.

This process is closely tied to the second general advantage of using a modern OMS. Namely, to route an order optimally, the system needs deep visibility into every warehouse, store and online outlet you operate. Once such a system in place, you’ll quickly find there are further benefits to this level of access.

It’s time to gain real, unified visibility into your inventory – all of it.

Endless Aisle Inventory

Customers who have become accustomed to large, online-native retailers’ promises of fast and efficient delivery expect a lot from the companies they deal with on a daily basis. An advanced OMS can help your organization step up to this tier. Physical stores become convenient assets, parts of a whole infrastructure where consumers can interact with your whole inventory.

Of course, taking an omnichannel approach to ordering, fulfillment and returns isn’t easy. This is one area where the intelligent automation of a strong OMS is practically compulsory. If communication between the various arms of your organization relies too much on manual processes, disconnect may seep in, hampering your ability to fulfill omnichannel’s promise. Creating a brand that encompasses every channel, in-person and online alike, is a dominant strategy today, but when shoppers test the limits of the system, you need infrastructure that delivers.

An Ideal Time to Improve

You’ve just completed the holiday season. Hopefully it went well, but in just about every case, there will be some elements worth examining and changing for next year. Chances are, you’ll be able to observe situations where greater inventory visibility and increased automation would have helped. A better OMS can lead to faster, more affordable orders, from any point of contact. Those factors, in turn, impress shoppers and encourage them to come back often.