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Light OMS – What Exactly Is It?

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
Light OMS - What Exactly Is It? First of all an OMS is the industry standard term for an Order Management System. A 'Light OMS' is a term used for a system with limited order management functions and capabilities. Often legacy POS vendors, eCommerce platforms, and certain ERP systems have touted simple OMS features as a full order management add-on modules. Although, it provides more value to the systems in question, these systems often mislead retailers into believing they have the functions of a full systems, which they do not, when scratching beneath the surface.

Why is it Important?

Over the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that any retailer wanting to have an omnichannel retail presence, must have an order management system. Without it, a mid to large retailer simply cannot provide omnichannel capabilities to shoppers. The OMS connects the back-end and front-end retail systems, into one single cohesive technology. Doing so means that independent retail channels are interconnected, working as one. The OMS is at the heart of any well run omnichannel retail business. It ties disparate systems together to provide a seamless brand experience for the consumer. Given the nature of this mission critical part of omnichannel retail – many technology vendors want to claim they provide order management functions with their solution. What they often forget to mention is the strength of the order management solutions. In several cases, some of our clients were initially surprised to learn that what they believed to be a full OMS, only really provided a small fraction of what a robust order management system supports.

What The Retailers Didn’t Know

Blissful ignorance is not an objective if you want to succeed in retail. In fact, not realizing that you are missing core features which your competitors provide and which your customers expect; is a serious blunder. Don’t settle for merely an add-on module that your legacy POS vendor has suggested as a full solution. Once you scratch the surface, you will probably find that it does not have the robustness you expected. It might provide a simple feature or two, but will not satisfy the needs of a retail chain larger than 10 to 15 stores.

What is in a Light OMS?

Light OMS systems capture a function or two of a robust order management (OM) solution. For example, several eCommerce platforms have OMS modules that can be activated for a monthly fee. They might provide a static inventory visibility (pulled from the warehouse management system’s daily batch run), but lack the full integration to all systems as a centralized hub. That means, instead of getting real-time or near real-time inventory positions across your chain, a simpler system gives customers a view of the inventory positions first thing in the morning. Robust solutions take stock of the warehouse, all goods locations (stores, popup stores, etc), have a real time view of the orders and inventory arrivals from online orders, as well as in-store POS transactions. A true OMS integrates the full suite of retail technologies to give you a unified commerce solution. This perspective alone is intensely important. Customers are looking up your stock positions online, on their mobile, and asking about it from your in-store associates. What does giving them the wrong information mean to your brand promise? What happens when your website says store A has the item, but the customer standing in store A cannot find it (nor can the associate for that matter)? Don't get short-changed, it will cost your customers aggravation, and erode at your brand promise.

Do I have a Real Order Management System?

To get a clear picture of whether you have a light or robust OMS, use OrderDynamics’ Order Management Assessment Questionnaire. It is a set of 19 questions, which takes 5 minutes to answer. Scoring six or less means your existing OMS is a light one (not giving your what your customers expect). Scoring above 14 is a clear indicator that you have a solid system. Congratulations, pat yourself on the back for doing a good selection job! If you score between 7 and 13, then connect with an order management focused vendor to determine if you need more, or can make due with what you already have.      

Is a Light OMS bad?

No. A light OMS is not bad. However, you have to use it for the right application. For a small retail chain with fewer than 10 locations, a light OMS might meet their needs perfectly. At this level, the retailer might not need the feature depth, and peak order capacity of a more robust solution. In fact, a robust OMS might be overkill for the state of their business. A good order management vendor will let you know this side of the equation, too. However, if your retail chain is over 10 or more locations, then you need a robust OMS depending on your volumes. Simply put, a retailer is selling themselves short if they have grown past the 10 locations mark, and are still operating with a light system. It is like running the 100 yard sprint, while carrying a set of 20kg (lb) weights. If you were in a serious race, you just would not do this.

Get the Right Technology for Your Needs

For a more thorough discussion, read the whitepaper: "Can the Real OMS Please Stand Up?” It is free to download, includes the OMS Assessment Questionnaire, and provides a deeper explanation of what retailers should seek in a retail order management system. If the system you have does not suit your needs, a set of vendor questions is also provided in this paper. These can help you determine the needs of your specific retail chain. Select the questions that make the most sense for your business, and make sure the technology vendor’s system meet the criteria you set out. Don’t be fooled by the vendor telling you that they have OMS technology. The question you need to answer is whether it is a light or robust OMS solution. Not all systems are built equally. Let us know where your buyer's journey takes you!   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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