Distributed order management can be a valuable tool for companies looking to orchestrate their order capturing and sourcing, says Kumar. The concept isn’t new, but the processes associated with it were previously manual in nature. As a result, supply-chain managers had a hard time acquiring visibility over complex networks with multiple distribution facilities. “They never had one place where they could see what was happening,” Kumar says.
True distributed order management provides a better way to source and control orders. And it’s more necessary than ever, according to Kumar, given changing consumer habits. Today, a buyer might want to purchase an item online and pick it up at the store. Or he might browse the selection at the store and ask for purchases to be sent to his house.
What’s made this complex retail environment possible, says Kumar, is the evolution of technology, especially mobile devices. “You can just stand there and order it now,” he says. Hence the rise of the so-called omnichannel, whereby consumers can order and pick up just about anywhere.
To manage such a multifaceted network, companies need to be able to centralize key functions, especially inventory fulfillment. They should be able to move product to where it’s needed at any given time. Distributed order management helps to make that possible.
Distributed order management isn’t for everyone, says Kumar. It’s best applied to companies that have a broad network of distribution centers and channels for order capture. It can also be of value in warehouses that perform cross-docking, an increasingly popular method of moving product in the age of e-tailing.
Companies deciding whether distribution order management is right for them should ask some basic questions, says Kumar: Are we network-based? Are we capturing order sources and demand from multiple channels? Will distributed order management solve our capacity issues, and reduce our cost to serve?
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