By Dan Lawson, E-commerce and OMS Expert at Access Mintsoft
The current e-commerce boom, paired with industry challenges such as supply chain issues and warehouse space shortages is causing online retailers and multi-channel sellers to struggle to fulfil orders as quickly as needed to keep up with customer expectations.
As customer expectations evolve, so should the fulfilment processes of retailers. One trend expected to be seen more in 2022, is the implementation of technology which automates many fulfilment processes, making picking, packing and shipping orders a lot more efficient.
An order management system (OMS) is the perfect aid for online and multi-channel retailers, as it can help to streamline and automate certain processes, provide data-driven decisions and reduce operating costs.
Whilst there are many benefits to investing in and implementing automated fulfilment software such as an OMS, there are also many considerations too. For those looking to implement one for the first time, or even for those looking to upgrade their current automated fulfilment software solution, there may be some features that you hadn’t thought – or weren’t aware could be taken care of by an order management system. What features and functions should you be looking out for when onboarding an OMS?
One of the most important considerations when it comes to implementing automated fulfilment software is opting for a cloud-based system. A cloud-based OMS will make management of the whole fulfilment process a lot more streamlined, allowing you to consolidate all your orders in one place, from anywhere. In addition, cloud-based systems are also easy to scale and are highly configurable, which is an important aspect to consider as your business grows or you look to sell through more channels and marketplaces.
Cloud-based order management software will also drastically reduce errors and will help to make informed data driven decisions, allowing users to deliver a more responsive and consistent service by automating unavoidable admin tasks and saving your business time and money.
Opting for cloud-based software as opposed to locally hosted software will make set-up a lot easier – and quicker – as it removes the need to install complicated software on computers or other devices used to run your e-commerce business.
Contrary to their name, certain order management systems can take care of a lot more than just managing orders. One such element is dropshipping.
If you rely on a dropshipping business model, the order management system to look out for are those that have the ability to set up lists of dropship products and suppliers to automatically split out products from orders you do not fulfil yourself. Find one that offers visibility of all your order streams for a full understanding of what you are selling and what’s been sold, all in one central place. In addition, you need the ability to sell on platforms (perhaps like eBay and Amazon) and get the order details to the company holding the products without having to log into each platform, download forms, print them, and then send emails on.
An OMS with strong inventory management functionality gives you automated insights to product information at your fingertips, so you know the best place to store it, and how to handle certain stock.
Many order management systems also use automation to predict how much stock you’ll need to avoid over-ordering, or worse, over-selling. This can be especially important during peak times and helps with optimising existing warehouse space
Another functionality to consider when implementing e-commerce order management software is whether it allows integration with other channels and systems. Opting to invest in an OMS that easily connects with marketplaces, ecommerce platforms, major carriers inventory and accounting systems will make fulfilment a lot easier.
Not only do integrations remove the need to log in to multiple platforms, managing your orders from one centralised platform also means that accuracy and speed of orders will be enhanced – saving both time and money in the long run.
The systems talk to one another, which will give you a complete view of orders and data and help to reduce errors by putting all the information you need into one accessible place – based on real-time data.
When the warehouse picks, packs, and ships products, your order management system should send a notification to the customer that their order has shipped, so the ability to track and monitor orders may be the most important basic function of an OMS.
Your OMS should also have the ability to provide information about when your customer can expect their order, based on their shipping address, and order information. This is a really important feature to look out for, with customer demand and expectations at an all-time high. Offering a streamlined customer experience with regular updates is key to ensuring repeat orders and a loyal customer base.
Red flags to watch out for
With so many order management systems on the market, it can be challenging to find the perfect OMS to meet all your needs. In addition to things to look out for, here are some of the challenges you may run into:
An order management system that doesn’t integrate with your existing systems, or provide the option to scale up on additional marketplaces or connect with multiple couriers
An order management system that doesn’t continually adapt and release regular updates based on your evolving needs
An order management system that involves complicated implementation – always look for a vendor that offers a demo, video tours and ongoing support
Consider implementing a cloud-based order management system, as this allows users to check on orders anytime, anywhere
Overall, there are many systems available for order management and each has its advantages and drawbacks.
It’s important to remember that the right OMS for you is one that offers automation and eliminates as many manual processes as possible from your fulfilment process – saving precious time and effort.
Determine which tasks are taking up a lot of time – or causing a lot of errors – and invest in an OMS that can efficiently automate these features.