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What Exactly Is An Out-Of-The-Box Retail DOM?

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
What Exactly Is An Out-Of-The-Box Retail DOM? There are two philosophies in the world of order management systems (OMS). One is that distributed order management (DOM) systems should simply be a platform that lets a retailer code and fully customize their own system. The other, that we recommend for most retailers, is a retail DOM that is ready to go ‘out-of-the-box’ and can adjust and be configured to the needs of the merchant. Which is right?

Platform Retail DOM

Order management systems that that have a platform base are like getting a new computer, with only the operating system on it. It can be a highly powerful machine. However, no applications are set up already. It is up to the purchaser (retailer in our case), to create the exact custom application that they want.

Platform Positives

A positive about platform retail DOM’s is that they are fully customizable. After all, the actual order management system will be built by or for each retailer purchasing a platform. With enough time, money and effort, the system can include as many different features, configurations, and options as the retailer wants. The look and feel can be fully customized. Simple and some advanced functions are accessible for the retailer’s exact needs. Best of all, in this case a retailer can have the system match their existing workflows, for easy adoption by their teams.

Platform Negatives

Negatives about these systems are that they leave it up to the retail customer to hire or apply their own expertise to design and develop an order management system. That can be a significant amount of effort and time on an IT development project, that you are not spending on building the retail business. It also relies on the retailers’ development and coding capabilities, or the cost of hiring coding consultants and contractors. Rather than pulling on the deep expertise of specialists who ONLY work on developing order management systems, it relies on teams who may be new to order management technology. After fully integrating the platform, there will be additional time and costs to design, code, test, and debug the new retail DOM. Aside from the additional time, resources and budget needed, retailers should also expect that future changes, tweaks and alterations will need the help of specialized coders.

When Are Platforms An Advantage?

Platform retail DOM technology is a throw-back to the early days of order management systems. When this was a completely new technology, there simply were no technology vendors with a system that would meet 80% of a retailers’ needs. The earliest among systems would have been fully designed and coded by in-house developers. Eventually companies like IBM developed large platform technologies that allowed customers to program an OMS at a higher level. You no longer needed coders to go into the deep coding levels of customizing connections to every interconnected system. A big step forward, and wonderful for exact bespoke customization, but still requiring extensive coding, and highly specialized order management technology knowledge. This is all good, until you need a change, or realize that deep retail DOM coding knowledge is rare among coders, and therefore an expensive resource (whether full time or on a consulting basis). Think of it as Lego bricks. Buying a box of Lego, and building a small toy house or car, can be fun. You let your imagination run wild, and you create exactly what your heart desires. However, if you had to build a full scale house of lego, and had 25 Million bricks delivered to your door; it would be an altogether different experience that would not include the word ‘fun’.

Out-Of-The-Box Retail DOM

With the evolution of omnichannel retail, and maturity of order management systems, out-of-the-box retail DOM systems are finally becoming more common. Out-of-the-box systems, are pre-built solutions. In our earlier analogy, it is like buying a powerful new laptop with an operating system, but ALSO having several industry standard applications already loaded and ready to go. Definitely, a much more positive and immediately productive experience. Out-of-the-box systems aren’t just robust platforms. They are intelligently architected, designed, coded, fully functional, and ready to go order management systems.  

Out-Of-The-Box Advantages

When a vendor integrates and deploys an out-of-the-box solution, the retailer can immediately use the system. There is no further time needed to build the OMS on the platform. There are no additional costs of hiring dozens of coders to architect, design, and program a new system. Deep specialists who focus exclusively on order management technologies also architect, design, code, test, and debug the technology. That means you are getting a new system that you know works, for your needs. It will work on day one, without wasting your retail resources waiting for the consultants to finish building or refining certain modules. Because these systems are ready to go and tested across many retailers, these DOM’s come with field tested best-practices. They may need some configuration and tweaking to fit your specific processes, but are otherwise ready to fulfill. However, in many cases, some of the best practices from industry standard practices, can help improve your own retail practices. With customization, out-of-the-box technologies allow retailers to configure the system to their exact needs. As an example, staff can create, add, delete, or change order routing business rules. This eliminates the need for high cost "consulting experts." This is particularly important for any retailer with seasonal needs. Ship-from-store, ship-to-store, and ship-from-DC rules may change with end of season shifts. Best of all, these adjustments can all be done by the retailer's own administrative staff, rather than by consultants brought in to continually adjust the hard-coded, or poorly coded platform systems.

Out-Of-The-Box Negatives

The biggest challenge some retailers find with out-of-the-box technology, is that it isn’t a big box of Lego. Some retailers continue to believe that their own in-house developed system, or platform based systems are the only option, because they are fully customized. Certain retailers may also have highly specialized needs for their business, which are completely unlike any other retailer’s functionings. If the customizations would represent 40%-60% of the system, then an in-house or platform solution might make more sense. However, in these extreme cases, the retailer may want to review whether there is still a need for such high customization. It is best to hire a retail consultant who does NOT offer OMS coding services (to avoid any conflict of interests, or predefined conclusions). Alternatively, if it is time to adapt; take on the industry standards, and focus on running an exceptional retail business - rather than building an OMS.

When is Out-of-the-Box An Advantage?

With the evolution of omnichannel retail, and order management systems, there are very few cases where in-house development or platform technologies still make sense. Out-of-the-box retail DOM’s are ready to go with industry standard processes and functions. They are the culmination of industry best-practices often built with the input of many retailers around the world. OMS experts design, architect, and build ready to go retail DOM's. Think too about the fact that a prebuilt solution has already been field tested, and debugged by other retailers. In fact, you are getting this as a bonus with your system that is ready to go. It means the system works. It also means that retailers can focus their resources on the business of retail, rather than IT development projects.

Do You Love Retail Or Coding?

Don’t be fooled by the allure of a fully customized platform based system. The age of custom built, or in-house built retail order management systems is over. Today, any best-of-breed retail DOM will meet northward of 95% of a retailers needs. For the vast majority of retailers, out-of-the-box retail DOM systems are what they need to run their business effectively. An out-of-the-box system gets retailers onto a robust solution. This provides flexible configurability, depth, capacity, and most of all peace of mind. An out-of-the-box retail DOM lets you focus on what you are best at, and what you truly love doing – retail.   Author: Charles Dimov is Director of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.       Related:           
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