Order management and ecommerce systems are invaluable tools that will assist you in tracking inventory, speeding up the order processing system, and identifying trends and opportunities, as well as improving sales, particularly in multiple markets.
These are just some of the many benefits such a system can provide. We will look at them in a little more detail.
If you are selling online in any capacity, with the exception perhaps of a pure affiliate site, you will already have some type of order management software. These might appear to be effective and sufficient for your current needs. As your business and the markets grow, you will probably find these applications unable to keep pace with the changes and growth. You are also missing out on the many powerful tools a good enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with integrated order management software can offer you.
As your business, product line and market increase, your current system will eventually start to let you down. This could impede your growth and result in increased costs, poor customer service and missed opportunities.
As your business model becomes more complex, it will be wise to investigate the benefits of a dedicated order management system that will integrate with other systems and ecommerce platforms.
Enhance and Streamline Order Processing Workflows
An order process goes through numerous stages, all with the potential for glitches or delays. This will lead to lower productivity and poor customer service. It could even result in canceled orders or lack of repeat business.
With the correct systems in place, all of this can be avoided.
The average order processing workflow looks something like this:
1. Order placed by customer
2. Notification of order sent to relevant/responsible person or department
3. Order is logged and packing slip is generated
4. Order is packaged and weighed
5. Shipping label is generated and printed
6. Shipping box is correctly and clearly labeled and ready for collection
As you can see, there are many instances in which a simple error could occur or points where delays could creep in.
The efficiencies and improvements of quality order management software are immense. It will speed the entire process up, eliminate errors and identify actual or potential issues in real time.
OK, so we are not all on the same scale as Amazon, but if you had to see how their fully automated order processing workflow operates, you would be blown away. It truly is amazing. Given the complexity of their operation, it would have to be. A good system might not get you to that level, but it will certainly improve and streamline your workflow.
Packaging and Distribution
Most modern systems will store information and remember it, reducing time and eliminating errors. For example, it will know the weight of a product and the dimensions; it can decide on the size and type of packaging required. These are all time consuming, repetitive tasks that are prone to human error. All of this can be avoided and done faster with great accuracy.
The order management system can also automatically print the shipping label as well as the packing slip because it has all the necessary data and information needed in order to do this.
While the system does many things, just this feature will save you an immense amount of time and eliminate errors. It will also lower your staff costs, and people can be redeployed to more productive activities while automation takes care of the bulk of the work.
As an added benefit, an automated order management system will work for you 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It does not take leave, call in sick or expect to be paid overtime.
If you are selling through a single channel, a basic ecommerce platform should be able to track inventory adequately. As the business expands and multiple channels are used, the tracking of inventory becomes more complex and challenging. Inventory management could become a nightmare without the necessary systems to drive it.
Real-time, accurate and easily accessible data that’s integrated across all channels and platforms is crucial to avoid inventory issues.
Many of the systems can also automatically update your ecommerce site, again in real time, while updating your other channels as well. This will avoid duplication of sales and avoid customer dissatisfaction.
There are some great systems and solutions that will integrate your systems if you are selling on multiple channels and marketplaces. These are great for larger enterprises but might not be affordable for the small-to-medium merchant.
Order management software might be the best solution in these situations. A quality ecommerce order management system will be able to integrate with eBay, Amazon, Etsy and other channels your business might use. These systems will be able to manage the multi-channel inventory and sales tracking.
Selecting an Order Management Solution
There are many order management solutions available on the market with a range of features and benefits. You need to research them and find one that will suit your business model both now and in the future.
Ensure that it is robust, reliable and can integrate with the necessary channels, markets and platforms required. Also be sure to deal with a reliable vendor that will give you the necessary backup and support to make sure the system works to its full potential.
The ecommerce market is fiercely competitive, a situation that is unlikely to change. Anything that can provide your company with a competitive advantage is worth investigating. Tying order management and ecommerce systems together is one such advantage that will give you the edge needed to stay ahead of the pack.