Order management is a key component in any ecommerce strategy. Not just from a technical perspective but more importantly for how it impacts the customer experience journey.
For many companies—especially those growing quickly—capturing, tracking, and fulfilling orders across multiple channels pose quite a challenge. It is even more of a challenge for retailers still using manual processes, and even pen-and-paper, at some point in the logistics process. This inevitably leads to human errors and order inaccuracies.
ORDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS: FROM CLICK TO CUSTOMER
Just think of all the touchpoints in the online customer journey. Consumers today expect a seamless and coherent experience through them all. This is where Order Management Systems become relevant, to provide a satisfactory customer experience through all the stages of the buying journey:
- Order entry and validation
- Billing and Invoicing
- Payment processing
- Inventory and sourcing
- Customer Service
- Returns and Refunds
- Service Needs
- Order preparation
When selling their products or services, retailers and businesses also must consider a multitude of other factors, such as:
- Channel options and opportunities
- Shipping options & fulfillment logistics
- Third-party logistics
- Analytics & business intelligence
An Order Management System (OMS) handles all of the behind-the-scenes: fulfillment process from order routing, the printing of shipping labels and return labels, and manages subscriptions and coupled products.
An OMS is taxed with the automation and integration of the ecommerce experience to ensure that the customer journey is smooth and frictionless. Any multi or omnichannel ecommerce solution adds layers of difficulty to order management and increases the need for a systematic approach.
Related reading: What is Omnichannel Retailing
ORDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ARE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT POST-COVID
During the pandemic, consumers have embraced the concept of doing everything online. They have become accustomed to lightning-quick deliveries, which means logistics need to be optimized as much as possible. There is no room for inefficient shipping routines; every item needs to be shipped from where it is. Consumers expect a multitude of options and want to pick the delivery that suits them best. This means businesses that have risen to this challenge have a clear competitive edge. The delivery methods that have grown immensely in popularity during the pandemic include:
- Directly from the warehouse
- From brick and mortar
- Pick up at brick and mortar
- Curbside pickup
- Local delivery
Each new option adds complexity to order management and increases the need for a systematic and automated approach. An order management system (OMS) tracks stock levels, combines order data from multiple channels, and coordinates deliveries with third-party providers to get products to the buyer as quickly as possible.
Related reading: What is a Dark Store? The New Post-Pandemic Retail Model
B2B BUYERS EXPECT THE SAME SPEED AND SERVICE AS IN B2C
As we’ve all become savvy online shoppers during the pandemic, consumers have come to expect the same buying experience from B2B companies as well. Which makes sense; why should we settle for clunky and fragmented processes in B2B when B2C has clearly shown exactly how smooth and convenient online interactions can be?
B2B providers can no longer get away with slower service than their B2C counterparts. The B2B vendors who keep their customer experience on par with those in B2C are the ones who will win.
A BLUEPRINT FOR YOUR BACKEND OPERATIONS
You can use your Order Management System to build out a blueprint for your backend operations. The OMS has a complete overview of all the complex steps in the order process and can help you optimize your order processes based on your business and systems rules.
Monitoring the customer journey with the help of your OMS will enable you to decide which channels and options are the most effective for your business, providing you with the most ROI. With the modern expectation of true omnichannel commerce, customers expect fast and accurate order processing and fulfillment, which requires a deeper understanding of the order journey.
Want more advice on this topic?
PICKING THE RIGHT OMS IS ESSENTIAL
Order Management Systems can vary from simple, single-channel systems with easy implementation to expansive, feature-rich systems with multi-warehouse management and fulfillment options. When evaluating what OMS is for you, you need to consider your current mar-tech stack and select a system that integrates well with your other systems.
Also, be mindful that operations and needs change, both due to fluctuating markets and seasons. An OMS that’s easy to use, and scale will make you agile and flexible, whether we’re talking promotions, Black Friday, or other events. Making changes to workflows, prices, and options for your customers should not be overly complicated for your marketing team and other potential non-technical users.
An Order Management System is a must, but there are different alternatives to choose from:
- Manual order management
- Using an ecommerce platform with integrated OMS out of the box
- Standalone order management software
- Enterprise retail platform (ERP) software
Which one works best for your business depends on your needs and the complexity of your operations. Some ecommerce platforms like Ultra Commerce have out-of-the-box solutions that can manage and fulfill orders with difficult business rules. The level of complexity is hidden from the customer, enhancing the overall customer journey.
An OMS is a significant investment that impacts your business at a fundamental level. Getting input from an experienced advisor and performing thorough analysis is essential, as many companies get this wrong. According to Statista, 42% of retailers state that the OMS they currently have in place needs improvement. When you get it right, on the other hand, the OMS has the potential to transform your operations and dramatically improve your ROI.
Related reading: Retail Customer Experience – Quick Wins to Boost ROI
BENEFITS OF ORDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
Control Over Your Stock: Real-time Inventory Visibility
The more complex your business grows, with multiple warehouses, logistics partners, and locations, the more difficult it becomes to control your stock levels. At the same time, it’s very damaging to your brand and the customer experience when stock is not updated correctly on your site. With an Order Management System, you have complete control of your inventory and know exactly where every product is in real-time.
Optimized Processes: Eliminated Duplication of Effort
It’s very common that the same processes take place more than once in ecommerce companies due to the lack of a centralized information hub. With an Order Management System, previously manual processes and tasks are automated, and everyone gets access to the same data and information, wherever they’re located and whatever their role. This reduces silos and lets your team focus on adding value rather than on administrative functions.
Valuable Insights: True Understanding of Buying Patterns
With an Order Management System, you can finally get the complete picture of your customers’ buying patterns and how your products are moving through the product life cycle. You will become aware of what parts of the buyer journey need tweaking, and you’re able to continuously work to optimize and improve each step of the process. This will not only lead to a better and more seamless customer experience but also have a massive impact on your ROI and bottom line.
In the increasingly complex landscape of online sales and with the ever-increasing customer expectations, Order Management Systems are essential tools for managing, optimizing, and understanding your ecommerce business.
The most important benefits of an OMS include:
- Control over your stock: real-time inventory visibility
- Optimized processes: eliminated duplication of effort
- Valuable insights: a true understanding of buying patterns
However, deciding on the right solution for your company can be challenging. There are numerous OMS solutions on the market, and they all come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing carefully is essential, as this is a business decision that will have a massive impact on your ability to grow and scale your business, increase your ROI, and provide satisfying customer experiences.
HOW VAIMO CAN HELP
At Vaimo, we’re experts in all things ecommerce. Letting us evaluate your current tech stack and make recommendations for an OMS can prevent you from having to dive into weeks of research and comparing and contrasting Order Management Systems. We have evaluated hundreds of ecommerce experiences and are poised to make detailed recommendations based on 13 years of experience.
We’re happy to help you evaluate your options by starting with a short but thorough audit of your ecommerce stack to show you the potential for the future of your ecommerce experiences. Get in touch with our team of experts to explore the opportunities!