Order fulfilment isn't easy for any online retailer. In fact, the bigger the merchant, the more challenging the order fulfilment process becomes. There isn't an online retailer out there that doesn't struggle to provide a consistently high order fulfilment service.
In the current retail environment, order fulfilment is getting more and more complex. When selling to customers, retailers have to take several factors into account:
This is where Order Management System (OMS) software can be of tremendous help— especially if you're running an eCommerce business. The OMS can automate your online sales and order fulfilment—as well as backend functions like inventory management.
But firstly, let's answer the most basic question with regards to Order Management. What is Order Management?
Order Management Systems is specific software that is designed to automates the entire order fulfilment process. It is designed to streamline the whole process from firstly registering customers orders, and then managing all the processes involved in routing, tracking and fulfilling those orders.
The OMS software goes into action once the customer places an order and manages everything until the customer receives their goods. The OMS will also be able to handle the return process, if necessary.
Since the OMS integrates all the different warehouses and suppliers where you have stock inventory in one system, the software makes all of your stock inventory available to your customers for purchase. The software gives customers the option to choose the shopping channel and shipping/collecting method that suits their particular needs—and then ensures that they will receive their goods in the shortest amount of time possible.
Implementing an OMS takes a considerable investment in both time and money. That is why it's important to consider if the OMS will be worthwhile for your business. Here it’s useful to consider specific benefits to using OMS software:
The OMS allows you to keep track of inventory levels in real time across your business. This allows both your team members and customers to get accurate information whether a specific product is in stock and available for sale.
The OMS puts the correct inventory numbers at your fingertips at all times. This takes the guesswork out of ordering new stock since you will always know exactly how much product you have in stock. You will also know how much new stock you need in order to keep up with demand.
Accurate stock numbers are also available to your staff, so they don’t have to guess if you have enough inventory to fulfil an order. Everyone knows what's going on at all times, which streamlines your order fulfilment process. An accurate overview of your stock will also give you the ability to move stock around so that it's available to service each sales channel efficiently.
Since you know how much product you have in stock, you will avoid overstocking. The system will help you to make accurate sales forecasts so that you will always have the right amount of product in stock. This will automatically lower costs, since you can guess with some certainty what sales numbers to expect.
A further benefit is that you lower the costs from manual inventory management. This is because the OMS keeps tabs on your inventory automatically as you take and fulfil orders.
With an OMS, orders from different sales channels can be processed in one place—whether the orders originate from your web-store, phone app, POS and other in-store systems, or third-party retailers.
Managing multiple sales channels using different software platforms is a recipe for fulfilment errors. The solution is to have all of your business functions integrated in a single system. This will also ensure that all data from the different sales channels will both be up-to-date and accurate.
You will also be able to compare the data from the channels with each other. This will instantly shine a spotlight on the marketing campaigns that are more effective. In this way you will have real-time data to optimise your marketing.
When a retailer uses a manual order processing system, it's difficult to have a clear view of how your business is doing. Your managers and staff members can't be everywhere at once. They don't really know everything going on in your business all the time.
But a good OMS package is able to keep track of everything going on in your business at all times. The system is able to give you accurate, real-time information with regards to the status of orders, inventory and distribution, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of your management decisions.
A major benefit of the OMS is that your business can be run digitally—without the need for mountains of paperwork to keep track of customers, orders, and fulfilment. This saves time and lower costs as well as freeing up office space.
Since your business is automated by computer software, you have access to important information from anywhere in your company—information that's always up-to-date and accurate.
This is important, because paper can get lost or misplaced. When you use a paper system, it becomes incredibly difficult to keep track of the information that runs your company. Also, paper and printing costs money. A digital system will also keep sensitive information more secure.
Since OMS software automates your order fulfilment and inventory management, you will always have current information on your orders. Your team members will know the status of every order and will be able to communicate this information to your customers, which translates into better customer service.
Since your inventory numbers are always up to date, a customer knows if a product is in stock when they place an order. Since the OMS synchronises your sales channels with your inventory, you will also be able to give customers accurate shipping times when they place an order. This allows you to give them more options when they buy from you— which simplifies matters considerably.
What causes errors in order fulfilment and inventory? The answer is a lack of current order status information as well as human error. An OMS will solve both of these problems.
The OMS takes over the management of order fulfilment and information through your business, which eliminates human error. The OMS will also automatically update your inventory levels as you take and fulfil orders. Which means you don't have to rely on old or inaccurate data to make decisions—which further reduces mistakes.
When it comes to sales and marketing, accurate, up-to-date information is crucial. As we mentioned, this is the strong suite of an OMS. With an OMS, you can monitor your sales channels from one console and compare that information to your marketing campaigns. In other words, you will have real-time sales numbers to prove the effectiveness of a specific marketing campaign.
The system will show you which products are selling, and which aren't in real time. At the same time, your sales staff will have accurate inventory information. If they offer something for sale, they know it's in stock.
When all your sales channels have access to the same real-time, accurate data, you will eliminate so many problems in your operations. Now orders can be fulfilled smoothly and efficiently. The OMS will also simplify your order and inventory management. Since your customers get access to up-to-date, accurate information about their orders, they will be happier.
The OMS is able to route orders in the most cost and time efficient way to minimise cost and shipping times. So whether the product is shipped from a store, distribution centre, or a third-party supplier, the system will calculate the most efficient order fulfilment option. The OMS will also give your staff and team members across the different areas of your business the tools to pick, pack and dispatch the right product to the right customer on time.
Since the OMS automates the return processing of orders that have already been fulfilled, returns management will be simplified considerably. This benefit becomes crucial in the busy holiday season when there tends to be an uptick in returns.
There are several benefits to using OMS software to streamline your retail operations—benefits that range from minimising inventory costs to providing excellent customer service:
The bottom line is that the OMS will cause your business to run smoother and at lower cost. This will translate into a better customer experience—whether they engage with your business online or in-store. When considering the tremendous savings in operational expense and wasted time, it becomes clear that the software will soon pay for itself.