By Chris Mushinsky, VP End to End Marketing Solutions , Warwick Fulfillment Solutions
Selecting a Web platform can be a daunting part of the e-commerce process. It is one that requires a marriage of functionality, design, and budget. Since the design of the website is such a visible representation of the brand, much effort is usually put into selecting the Web platform and designing the site. However, in the process of building the site, often less time and thought is put into the actual order management and hand shake points between the various software systems that will drive the e-commerce engine. Ask most e-commerce merchants about their order management software (OMS), and you may hear the name of the Web platform. And, in part, this may be correct, as many Web platforms include some order management capabilities. However, even very robust Web platforms do not include true order management functionality.
So, what does an order management system provide, and why is this key to doing business on the Internet in the B2C arena? Well, as it is aptly named; an OMS system manages orders as well as activity related to those orders,but you already know that. What you may not know is that all OMS systems are not the same; a good OMS allows a brand to grow and thrive as its marketing matures and evolves. This means an order management system will play a key role in a brand successfully implementing such marketing initiatives as rewards programs, continuity programs, special sales (e.g. buy one get one, buy this, get that for X% discount).Most of the information technology required to manage these types of marketing-driven orders are typically not found in the Web platform. While Web platforms will often include some order management functionality they are often “OMS Lite.” Most Web platforms’ OMS allows for simple orders to be placed and payment captured but does not offer more advanced capabilities. Yes, of course the list of actual OMS functions integrated in a Web platform certainly varies by platform, but, in general, a Web platform will offer the ability to take an order, capture payment, track an order, and close an order. It may even offer some more advanced OMS functionality, such as continuity, but invariably it is a “lite” version of the more advanced order management functions. For example, you may be able to set up continuity on a given Web platform, but if a brand wants to offer payment scheduling that is timed at variable intervals, your Web platform’s OMS is probably not going to do the trick — not without having to request modifications. This is where an understanding of your fulfillment provider’s services comes into play.
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