by Stephanie Miles
Published on 11 December 2013
Order management is often referred to as the "least glamorous" part of running a retail business. While the majority of media ink gets spent touting flashy marketing platforms and cloud-based point-of-sale solutions, order management software are the real workhorses that keep online retail businesses moving forward.
Once they've thought about developing products and marketing those products to a wide swath of consumers, merchants need to start focusing on the logistics of running digital businesses. After all, a seller might have the best inventory in the entire world - and that inventory might be selling at an excellent price point - but it's unlikely that any customers will return to the seller's store if he or she can't execute those orders in a timely fashion.
Traditionally, retailers dealt with order and inventory management by using paper logbooks and digital spreadsheets. These documents allowed business owners to see which products they had in-stock and which products they needed to re-order, but they were time consuming to maintain and easy to mess up.
Now, retailers are making life easier on themselves by automating the online order management process. Order management tools in the cloud have been designed to capture and process orders coming from online and offline channels. In many cases, these tools even integrate with a business owner's existing payment channels and shipping partners to completely automate the sales process.
Here are five additional reasons why retailers should consider adopting order management tools in the cloud.
eCommerce retailers face a competitive landscape, with hundreds of thousands of businesses fighting for the same consumer dollars. Digital order management tools can reduce the demands of the fulfillment process by 98 percent. Orders that are captured in person, online, or via fax can be managed within a unified system. Credit cards get charged, shipping labels get printed, and products get deducted from inventory rosters without the business owner lifting a finger.
Retailers need to know immediately when they've sold out of particular items to avoid the frustration that occurs when customers are told that a product they've requested is unavailable or out-of-stock. Order management software connects the back office with the front office. In many cases, retailers can use online management software to pull products down from their ecommerce websites automatically after they've sold out.
Speed is everything to an online retailer. Shoppers who are forced to wait weeks for their orders are unlikely to become return customers. One way that smaller retailers are overcoming this obstacle is by using order management apps with integrated shipping solutions. Many of the most popular systems let retailers create shipments directly from major shipping carriers like UPS and FedEx by entering their box dimensions and weights. Shipping labels can be printed from any computer, and real-time shipment progress updates are viewable from within the order management system.
Ecommerce business owners who use order management systems can give their digital stores a hometown feel. Customer management tools make it easy for users to track orders, notes, and contact information in one place, where it can quickly be pulled up during online interactions. Service representatives can rely on this information when providing assistance to customers who've had problems with their orders.
Knowledge is power, especially in the world of ecommerce sales. By digitizing and tracking every step of the online purchasing process, order management applications are able to provide users with useful analytics and sales statistics. This information can be used to forecast future sales and guide product placement decisions. Ultimately, retailers that rely on analytical data are able to make smarter business decisions based on fact, rather than instinct.
If you are looking at streamlining your order management processes, check these four popular order management apps.