How and Why to Separate Your Store’s OMS and CMS
When you move to your own webshop, order management, product data management, and content management become some of your most important processes. Many ecommerce stores rely solely on solutions from Amazon or Shopify to handle these during early-stage growth. However, as you expand, build more storefronts, and adopt enterprise ecommerce solutions, your portfolio and markets diversify, which translates to products and orders coming in from everywhere and managed in multiple different areas.
Depending on the size of your business, order management, product management, and content management could span across departments, channels, and marketplaces. You may also have separate product taxonomies and mappings or bundling and discounts for each marketplace where you sell.
As your business grows, that lack of organization becomes an obstacle that limits automation and reduces your ability to update seamlessly across your organization. A product information management (PIM) solution and order management system (OMS) separated out from your storefront content management system (CMS) will allow you to connect all of your touch points and channels, update and manage product information in one place, and then push it to the relevant channel.
Separating your OMS and PIM from your storefront CMS can help you easily scale to new channels and marketplaces. However, it is also worth noting that integrating and OMS and PIM that focuses on vendor catalog integration, EDI/API support can enable you to onboard, integrate, and list vendor products to multiple channels very quickly.
Why You Need a Separate OMS Layer in Your Stack
For most retailers, an OMS is a necessity, as proven through a 2019 study by Forrester that showed 53% of retailers planned to implement one that year. When properly incorporated, order management systems integrate into your marketplaces to manage, merge, and track orders across all channels cohesively—often pushing to and from 3PL. The result is centralized order management, whether you sell on Shopify, Amazon in several countries, eBay, Walmart, or any combination of platforms.
Managing orders in one place reduces cost and complexity, which in turn minimizes the risk of orders slipping through the cracks, reduces the complexity of managing and tracking orders, and improves your ability to keep up with increasing scale without enlarging your team.
- Greater inventory visibility across all channels and marketplaces.
- The option to automate order fulfillment by automatically forwarding orders to a local and or relevant warehouse or a 3PL. For example, an OMS can split or merge orders based on the purchasing customer, inventory availability, and more to ensure the customer receives their full order as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
- Track returns and reverse logistics across marketplaces, channels, and customers (although this will mean defining order return points, returns processing, etc.).
- Full integration into 3PL and other fulfillment providers.
- Vendor management as part of order management and inventory flows. For example, automatically submitting orders to dropship suppliers with relevant data or automatically forwarding orders to the relevant 3PL, etc.
Eventually, if you’re selling on multiple channels, you need an independent OMS. If your omnichannel strategy also includes rich metadata, photos, and descriptions, which must be updated and pushed to different channels based on context, you likely also want a PIM or listing management tool. Many marketplaces have strong PIM solutions for smaller retailers. In fact, if you have less than a few thousand products, you probably don’t need a separate PIM, but you do need a channel agnostic OMS.
PIM might feel odd separating from your storefront catalog CMS, but it is essentially about master data management. You store master data in one place so it’s easier to update it, synchronize it via integrations, and push through automated updates across channels. This not only ensures product data is consistent across channels, but also greatly shortens the implementation process, including time to market for new products. You also avoid incidents like Proctor and Gamble faced when they discovered 3.6% of their total orders were obsolete products. The more SKUs you have, the more likely it is you need a separate information management system.
Integrating an OMS
Software solutions like OMS can be critical to scaling your ecommerce business. To be valuable though, your OMS has to integrate with your channels, processes, and other tooling, which entails:
- Direct integration into channels and suppliers (i.e., being able to reformat data to supplier/channel-required formats automatically so you can push data, rather than having to update each one manually)
- The ability to manage and push data and orders across marketplaces (e.g., regions) so an order coming through a channel is pushed to a relevant warehouse in that region in an acceptable language or format, and a replenishment order is created to update stock at that warehouse
- The ability to pull product data to build sophisticated order routing rules (i.e. certain product categories can’t ship to California, route to other warehouses)
- Direct integration into warehouse management and inventory management, whether your own or provided by a 3PL
- Integrated ERP or integration into ERP to enable accounting and financial management
An intelligent integration has to incorporate tools into relevant processes and have the right people run them so you fully implement and make the most of whatever tool you adopt.
That often involves more work than you might think. For example, integrating an OMS into your processes means connecting it to every touch point, which can be considerable. You’ll have to integrate and set up processes, design automations, set standards for each supplier, etc., which usually requires mapping those processes and touch points first.
Integrating an OMS becomes increasingly necessary as you scale across channels, fulfillment methods, and distribution partners. The more complex your order and fulfillment model, the more you need OMS to keep up. Separating OMS into its own layer ensures you can easily scale across platforms and move into new marketplaces without setting up order capture and maintenance for each new channel. The same holds true for PIM, which allows you to quickly onboard vendor catalogs and push product data from a central platform. Depending on the number of touch points you sell through, that can be considerable but, when implemented properly, can dramatically reduce the time to market, product update errors, and product listing errors across marketplaces.
You can enjoy these benefits whether you have Shopify Plus, Magento, Bigcommerce or another solution with an integrated OMS, because omnichannel integration and central management are often far more powerful than any channel-specific solution.
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