Order Management as E-commerce Middleware

Order Management as E-commerce Middleware

One of the major challenges in contemporary e-commerce is the complexity of integrating multiple customer-oriented applications with diverse internal or external business applications as well as partner systems. The reason for this is often the existence of legacy IT landscapes, whose components are woven together through a complex array of direct point-to-point integrations. Besides creating headaches for IT departments, such legacy environments undermine the company’s agility and performance.

Not that point-to-point integration is necessarily a bad thing. If you only need to integrate a few applications, the point-to-point strategy is fast, simple, and inexpensive. The problem is that most companies have to integrate many different applications and/or external partners—and these integrations are rarely static.

The task of maintaining or expanding the ever-increasing number of interfaces and integrations presents a range of problems for IT departments. While project and maintenance costs rise, the speed of integrating new systems and partners or replacing existing solutions is reduced. And whenever another point-to-point integration is needed, the IT architects and developers often end up reinventing the proverbial wheel.

Modern e-commerce landscapes consist of a large number of systems that have to be networked with each other. E-commerce middleware solutions play an important role here in creating a powerful and flexible e-commerce architecture. These middleware systems can be used to centralize and standardize future integrations, thereby eliminating complex point-to-point architectures. Rather than being directly connected, applications are linked using the standardized methods defined by the middleware.

This is where a modern and sophisticated order management system comes in. As e-commerce middleware, it integrates heterogeneous systems using common information and process elements.

It embeds itself completely in a wide range of processes and solutions, linking online stores, marketplaces, EDI hubs, approval processes, credit checks, payment providers, marketing and reporting solutions, ERP and logistics solutions, CRM, and offline stores to create a holistic order processing system. A well-designed order management system is also capable of streamlining all processes and aiding the integration of all important data and processes into a unified e-commerce architecture.

Intershop Order Management: the solution for SMEs

One of the most significant results of digitization is the fact that large global corporations and SMEs are becoming increasingly indistinguishable, mostly in terms of their order management requirements. Of course, there are differences between these two types of companies with regard to the complexity of the processes used throughout each business. Yet both need a high level of agility and flexibility and the ability to integrate an increasing number of sales channels in order to remain competitive. In Europe, for example, there has long been a need for an independent order management system from a leading e-commerce provider that is specially tailored to the needs of SMEs.

At one extreme are the two flagship OMS solutions from Manhattan Associates and IBM Sterling Commerce. These powerful systems are joint market leaders, according to Forrester Research.[1] They are scalable, customizable, and ideally suited to large multinational companies with highly complex order management scenarios. At the other extreme are software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, such as Order Dynamics. While these are useful solutions, the SaaS model means they cannot be customized or expanded to meet specific business needs, i.e., they are unsuitable for SMEs, which typically require a mix of operational agility and long-term security.

SMEs therefore have the following options: Use the Manhattan or Sterling products, spending seven figures on roll-out, but only actually needing around 40% of the available functionality. Or opt for a more affordable SaaS product, while also adapting their established business processes to accommodate the fixed functionality of the SaaS model.

“There are currently no lightweight distributed order management systems in the European market that offer the flexibility of an enterprise solution but at a cost that suits SME budgets,” says Simon Phillips of Javelin Group (Accenture).

The Intershop Order Management System has been created to fill this gap. It can be adapted to suit individual business needs and is available as an on-premise solution or off-premise in the cloud at Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. With its flexible and SME-centric licensing and operational model, it also suits SME budgets. Another important benefit of Intershop Order Management is that it is not limited to Intershop Commerce Management, one of the world’s leading e-commerce systems:

“What's special about our order management system is that it can be used independently of our commerce management system,” says Intershop CEO Jochen Wiechen. “There are lots of companies that are hampered by a lack of order management functionality in their e-commerce or ERP systems. Our order management system provides a new alternative for these companies.”

With the Intershop OMS, small and mid-sized enterprises now have a solution that enables them to respond to current and future demands from markets and customers—simply, quickly, and efficiently.

More insights and interesting case studies can be found in our OMS-Whitepaper!

[1] The Forrester Wave: Omnichannel Order Management, Q3 2016

Matthias Müller

Senior Product Marketing Manager

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