These days, the key to delivering a better brand experience starts with streamlining order management. Customers don’t care how they get the products they want. They expect retailers to take care of them throughout their entire buying process and get the products they want regardless of channel.

The problem is, most retail organizations can’t provide this “seamless order management” that is so important to consumers. In fact, most retailers are still running their business across separate siloes with no real-time visibility into inventory levels across the organization.

Here’s an example of a recent experience I had with a well-known retailer, which I bet is an all-too-familiar story to anyone reading this post.

It started like most shopping journeys do, with a visit to the retailer’s Ecommerce site where a pair of black boots caught my eye. To my disappointment, the boots were out of stock in my size, but they recommended that I visit one of their retail stores to see if they might have them. Mind you, the website did not reveal which store had the item in stock, but I decided to take my chances anyway and took a trip down to the closest location at the local mall.

The store didn’t have the boots in my size either. The sales associate then proceeded to call around to multiple stores in the area to see if they had the boots. After about 30 minutes she located the boots in my size at a location more than an hour away. I had a choice. I could either drive to the location and pick them up or have them shipped directly to me. I opted to have shipped to me.

The next step of the process is what really surprised me. I was handed a printed form and asked to fill out my name, address, phone number and…credit card. Somewhere in my mind, the term PCI compliance was drifting around. The sales associate then faxed the document to the store and told me I would have the boots in about three days. I wasn’t exactly confident in the process.

It could have been so much simpler. If the retailer was working from an integrated commerce platform, the system could have alerted me to the store closest to me with the boots in stock and provide several options on how to get the boots - buy online/pick-up in store or buy online and shipped from the store to my home.

As it was, I had no way of tracking my order after it was faxed to the store. If the retailer’s order management software was seamlessly integrated across its entire business, I would have been able to log on to the retailer’s website, sign into my account and look at the order I just placed in the store and access my tracking number.

By having a seamless order management system in place, not only does it improve the overall customer experience, but also streamlines the entire business process. It’s time for retailers to take a good hard look at their order management system because not every customer is as patient as I am…at least for now.

- Ken Calvey, Vertical Market Expert