Your Options in Order Management Systems
Clearly, catalog management systems are the most completely configured systems for running a direct commerce business. They support order entry for first-time customers without first requiring a separate, lengthy customer set-up process (typical of accounting or manufacturing packages). Among other things, they’re designed to handle source-code tracking, customer segmentation and mailing lists, complex kits and sets, promotional pricing, gift shipments, gift certificates, product personalization, flexible fulfillment batching, high-volume picking strategies, and rich customer service views of customer and order data.
Companies that are unaware of CMS options often don’t identify themselves as catalog businesses, but rather as retailers, manufacturers or distributors. Their direct commerce business is either incidental or has grown slowly in the context of a larger enterprise. Not considering themselves direct marketers, managers at these companies don’t often read direct marketing trade publications, which is one of the few places they can find out about CMS (other than online searches — but if you aren’t looking for such systems, you’re not as likely to find them).
This point is worth revisiting, because it establishes something else that’s critical to appreciating catalog management systems. Unlike vendors of systems for accounting, ERP, manufacturing, customer relationship management or supply chain management, virtually all CMS vendors are relatively small companies with, at most, a few hundred users.
The rare exception is a company like Dydacomp, which sells the shrink-wrapped application Mail Order Manager (M.O.M.), in use at thousands of direct commerce companies, giving it as large a share of the market as all the non-CMS systems combined. Not surprisingly, Dydacomp also advertises M.O.M. widely, and is thus able to gain visibility in nondirect marketing circles.
M.O.M. belongs to a group of entry-level systems intended to help companies get started in direct commerce fulfillment. Other entry-level applications include: Mailware from Core Technologies, POS/OE from EES (runs on both Apple- and PC-based systems), OrderMate Pro from Tamalpais Technologies, and Stone Edge Order Manager from Stone Edge Technologies. There’s also the Wizard from NewHaven Software, which recently was superceded by NewHaven’s CMS application, and which actually shares many of the characteristics of the enterprise systems (see below).