Your Options in Order Management Systems
Catalogers use a remarkable variety of systems to manage their businesses. Accounting software packages such as QuickBooks do the job at many smaller catalogers, while larger companies have done well with a package like Great Plains, often using the services of a value-added reseller to customize the system to meet their specific needs.
Some order-management packages function as companions to an accounting system. For instance, OrdersPlus works with the BestWorks accounting suite from Best Software. The Everest system from iCode also falls into that category (several iCode systems are derived from an accounting/manufacturing foundation).
Other catalogers have adapted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, including large-scale systems (e.g., SAP or Oracle’s business suite), to their order-management requirements. Still other catalogers, not finding a packaged solution they can live with, have written their own systems.
Taken together, such alternatives most likely account for 15 percent to 20 percent of all catalog companies. And as disparate as catalogers are, they have one thing in common: They’re not using one of the three dozen catalog management software (CMS) applications, i.e., systems specifically designed for managing a catalog company. (Actually, users of packaged systems in this miscellaneous category most often aren’t even aware of CMS alternatives.)
Catalog management systems have been around since the late 1970s, when companies poured several million dollars (when that was real money) into developing systems in-house on minicomputers (in the pre-PC era) to manage their catalog businesses. To recoup some of their investments, they licensed these systems to others (usually through a third-party software company). Eventually, the software firms took on a life of their own, and other competitors followed.
Today, about three dozen CMS packages are on the market, ranging from shrink-wrapped systems costing a few hundred dollars to massive enterprise applications costing tens of thousands to acquire and install. The following summary may help you better understand the range of choices available.