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WEBINAR OVERVIEW Order management: an engine for delivering rapid omnichannel

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In a recent InternetRetailing webinar, Order management: an engine for delivering rapid omnichannel, we heard from Imran Choudhary, UK commerce lead at IBM, Nigel McGrane, Watson Commerce lead for UK IBM and Tamer Shaaban, director – omnichannel domain architecture, global IT at adidas group. Here’s a bulletpoint overview of the event.

• Imran Choudhary, UK commerce lead at IBM, started by summing up some of the disruptive forces currently affecting retail: Instagram, Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon – all through immediacy and meeting the needs and expectations of the customer.

• The role of fulfillment as a competitive advantage, at Amazon and others: next day delivery is now the norm. But it’s important it can be profitable.

• Nigel McGrane, Watson Commerce lead for UK IBM, then considered the role of order management systems in omnichannel retailing. “Customer behaviours can be complex if you don’t have an order management system,” he said.

• OMS isn’t just for sales orders, also the associated orders (movements of stock, purchase and return orders).

• Market leadership: next-day is now almost a norm. Argos now click and collect in four hours. Other retailers have increased sales revenue by extending their range. “All these different types of omnichannel processes add complexity, making delivery of their promise ever more complicated.”

Leveraging the store network: critical in the fight to retain market share. Significant uptick for those that do it well. Use of store as a fulfilment source on the rise: shipping from store avoids mark-downs and out of stock situations.

• Gives ability to promise stock, deals with the cost of doing omnichannel and makes a difference to the bottom line.

• OMS as the engine to omnichannel growth, and its “secret sauce”. Foundation or engine for omnichannel initiatives. Order management is a bridge between the two. Optimises the way we meet the omnichannel promise, at right cost, right time. It also gives the ability to serve customer in the store in the same way as when online, and by knowing the customer: able to upsell products.

Common questions: does an OMS take years to implement? New order management products are different – now a rapid deployment approach, and available on cloud. Network of implementation partners. Cookie cutter approach now possible; some people fund subsequent releases just from first implementation eg introducing click and collect can fund future upgrades.

• Releases now take months: 6 to 9 months very common.

Case study: Charlotte Russe. 500 store fashion retailer. Delivered a scope for call centre, multi-brand ship to home, inventory visibility across channels, change of carrier. Delivered in 22 weeks for order management and 7 months in total, including new ecommerce website.

• Tamer Shaaban, director – omnichannel domain architecture, global IT at adidas group then shared his insights into using an OMS from a retailer’s perspective.

• For you to be able to do omnichannel properly you need to look at the landscape, architecture and where OMS fits best. Needs to be super flexible; what asking for today will most definitely change tomorrow.

• Be aware of what omnichannel means to you: step back and understand what your strategy is and what you have to say, how you want to progress with that. Our experience is that it’s been a very important part of the architecture and what you need to build on in the future.

• In the good old days, whe the only thing we did was ship from warehouse, we looked on OMS as a back office function. But as soon as we started doing omnichannel we started looking from the front end and what the consumer sees. Flexible delivery options, in-store experience. Functionality came in dribs and drabs; once implement transition from a front office function.

• Providing end functionality to consumer while they wait transitions it from back office to front end consumption. Architects that provide projects, response times for web services.

Tamer’s five tips for a speedy OMS implementation:

• Choose the right platform and OMS: what approach (cloud, on-premise) works for your business?

• Extend – don’t customise

• 3. Have a well-defined integration strategy: integration is the key to success, define rules before starting.

• 4. Build a global template: but allow for local and regional variations.

• 5. Be agile: don’t spend a year looking at the design documentation – look at a minimum viable product and think about ‘slicing the elephant’.

• Bonus tip: Learn from peers: Global OMS User Group – first session held in September 2017, next in March 2018.

• Nigel McGrane then talked through how cognitive systems can improve OMS: understand, reason, learn and interact.

• Imran Choudhary then talked through his offer of an OmniChannel Consultation for attendees on the webinar. Watch the webinar to find out more.

The webinar was followed by a Q&A session. To see the webinar, slides and hear the Q&A session in full, view the IBM webinar here.

You can also view Nigel McGrane’s blog post here.

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