Best Practices for OmniChannel Order Management
In eCommerce, the ability to process and manage orders efficiently is crucial, not only to customer satisfaction, but to your bottom line as well. With consumers accessing your products from multiple channels and on various technology platforms, the need for an intelligent, automated order management system is more important than ever. Your order management system must be agile and it must be integrated with, or be part of your overall eCommerce management system in order to deliver a true omnichannel experience.
Order management refers to the entire order process including initial order, payment collection, customer management, fulfillment, shipping management and inventory management. Different order management solutions (OMS) accomplish some or all of these tasks.
Plus, some eCommerce shopping cart platforms (like Magento, Volusion and Demandware) have some form of order management built-in. What’s important is to first understand what tasks each system can handle, or if you are looking for order management software, what are the most important features needed for your specific online business.
Below are some order management best practices as well as key factors that we have identified here at SalesWarp that will ensure you have the most efficient and cost-effective order management system in place for your eCommerce business.
1. Consolidated Order Management
Today’s consumer expects an omnichannel experience. They are purchasing your products on your website, online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, in your store, on their smartphones and even through call centers. Plus, they want the ability to buy online and pick-up in store. Your eCommerce order management system must be able to manage all of these types of orders from all these channels through a single system that everyone in your organization can have access to. This consolidation of channels will streamline your order management while eliminating the potential for errors around manual processes needed to track and consolidate orders.
With every order, there are many steps. We are continuously amazed by how many retailers still need to complete one or more manual steps with every order.
With every touch by your team, you increase costs, plus open the door for potential errors. Your OMS must be able to reduce, and ultimately, eliminate any manual steps in your order lifecycle, not increase them. This will, not only, improve efficiencies, but allow you to free up valuable resources for more strategic uses, ultimately improving sales, improving delivery times and increasing ROI.
3. Fulfillment Integration
Today’s eCommerce businesses no longer rely on one source for fulfillment. Many businesses have multiple warehouses, drop-shippers, 3PLs and even in-store fulfillment. Your system needs to be integrated with each fulfillment source so that every order is routed automatically and fulfilled in a timely manner. Additionally, this integration will also streamline and automate inventory management across all of your online sales channels.
4. A Single Database
This is paramount to improving efficiencies and eliminating duplication. Being able to consolidate order data (as well as product, inventory and customer information) reduces the time and resources needed to manage your orders. Having a system that can consolidate all of your eCommerce data into “one source of truth” that everyone has access to will ensure data quality and improve overall services.
5. Inventory Management
Synching your order management system to your inventory is critical. Getting customers to buy is the end goal, but if your inventory isn’t integrated, orders become back-orders, lost orders and in many cases refunded due to out-of-stock or discontinued products.
Nothing hurts a business more than not being able to deliver, literally. And when it happens repeatedly, it’s very easy for unsatisfied customers to share these experiences with their social networks. Having to repair a reputation is much more difficult and costly than ever before. Making sure your eCommerce order management system has access to real-time inventory data will ensure orders are fulfilled and customer’s expectations met.
6. Customer Management
Customer communications should be part of every order. Knowing their order was received, is being processed, when it will ship, or if there are any issues is critical to a positive customer experience and the success of any eCommerce operations. You also need to make sure your call centers also have access to this information so that orders can easily be accessed and modified. Having a system that can consolidate customer and order data from each sales channel gives your sales and marketing teams access to information and valuable insights that can drive sales and improve customer satisfaction.
Managing orders is complex and probably one of the most important processes an online retailer has to manage. Today’s eCommerce industry is evolving and changing at a very rapid pace. Being able to keep up with, not only your customers and how and where they purchase, but with the technologies that are constantly changing is imperative to success. In summary, make sure your eCommerce Order Management software meets all of your critical business needs, creates efficiencies, integrates with all of your eCommerce operations, and is able to scale so you can successfully grow your online business. Your ROI will thank you for it.
For those of you who need a detailed list of questions to ask OMS providers, check out E-commerce consultant
Fit For Commerce.