With the eCommerce market expected to reach $8.1 trillion by 2026, maintaining an efficient online order management process has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have. eCommerce order management coordinates various systems and tasks, from order placement to product delivery, creating a seamless workflow to reduce fraud and chargebacks.
Yet, despite its critical role, many merchants let the opportunity to enhance this aspect of their businesses slip through their fingers. This oversight can lead to delayed orders and mounting customer frustration, culminating in losing business and market share.
In light of these challenges, this article delves into practical strategies to amplify your online order management process. The insights shared will help you ensure timely and accurate order fulfillment while boosting operational efficiency.
What Is an Online Order Management Process?
Online order management is an inclusive process that oversees and monitors an order from the moment a customer makes a purchase to the final delivery of the product. Throughout each phase, data is collected to track and manage the order’s progression.
With eCommerce being the preferred method of shopping for 68% of consumers, the process plays a huge role within the operational framework of online retailers, directly influencing the customer experience. It defines how swiftly and effectively they’ll receive their orders, impacting overall satisfaction and future visits.
eCommerce Order Management Challenges
Navigating the eCommerce landscape is not without its obstacles. Understanding and addressing common challenges in your order management process should be your first point of call.
These are just some of the main challenges that you may face:
- Managing multichannel orders: eCommerce businesses often operate on multiple platforms, making it necessary to synchronize data and ensure consistency across all channels. Without efficient multichannel order management, you’re at risk of overselling.
- Ensuring accurate order fulfillment: Customers expect timely and accurate order fulfillment. Implementing robust automated systems can significantly enhance accuracy and efficiency, catering to customer expectations effectively.
- Customer communication: Effective and timely communication with customers throughout the order process can be difficult to maintain. Customers today expect regular updates and transparent communication regarding their orders.
- Returns and exchanges: A smooth return and exchange process is vital for maintaining customer satisfaction, yet it can be logistically complicated and time-consuming to manage eCommerce chargebacks.
Benefits of an Efficient Online Order Management Process
- Accelerated order delivery: Customers want quick deliveries. A resilient order management system (OMS) refines delivery expenses and shipping paths so you can meet and exceed customer expectations.
- Improved inventory management: With real-time inventory tracking, your business can maintain optimal stock levels, avoiding overstocking and stockouts.
- Avoid errors and confusion: Handling large volumes of data across various channels can lead to human errors and security risks, resulting in clients receiving incorrect orders. Using eCommerce order management software minimizes these issues, ensuring accurate and secure transactions.
- Integrated systems: When an OMS can integrate seamlessly with your business systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), it produces consistent and accurate data across all your operations.
- Scalability: An adaptable order management process can scale to meet increasing order volumes and business growth, so as your business grows your OMS grows with it.
Understanding Your Current Order Management Process
Before delving into the strategies to boost your online order management process, it’s best to understand the ins and outs of your current system.
Look at the following:
- Evaluating existing systems: Conduct an assessment of your existing order management system, identifying its strengths and weaknesses. Complement this by gathering feedback from employees and customers.
- Identifying areas for improvement: Post-evaluation, pinpoint specific areas within your order management process that require improvement. This ensures you direct your efforts where they’ll make the most impact.
- Setting clear objectives: Set clear, measurable objectives. Outline the goals you wish to achieve, such as reducing order processing time, improving customer communication, or minimizing errors, and develop a structured plan to attain these objectives.
Eight Ways to Improve Your Online Order Management Process
- Opt for an OMS That Supports Omnichannel Integration
Choose an OMS renowned for its omnichannel integration capabilities such as Shopify Plus and Amazon Pay. This combines multiple sales channels into a single dashboard, allowing you to easily track customer orders.
Additionally, your OMS should possess a robust application programming interface (API) platform. This application enhances omnichannel fulfillment, ensuring rapid order processing, heightened accuracy, increased visibility, and superior inventory management.
Companies striving to deliver an exceptional post-purchase experience manually may encounter challenges when scaling up operations. Incorporating API-powered OMS smooths this transition, eliminating potential issues while ensuring a seamless operational workflow.
- Optimize Inventory Management
An OMS provides real-time insights into inventory from various sources. This feature allows you to calculate your Available to Sell (ATS) inventories.
When relying on ERP systems, retailers get a broad estimate of stock availability, often with minimal coordination between the point-of-sale (POS) system and other parts of the fulfillment ecosystem.
In contrast, an OMS offers an extensive view of inventory data from multiple systems, including third-party inventories. This unified perspective offers vendors precise information about their available stock.
- Embrace Automation
Minimize manual data entry to lower the potential for errors. Allow customers to place orders via a custom form, with information automatically syncing with platforms like QuickBooks. This automation – along with features like business call tracking – records every interaction.
As your business grows, you won’t need extra employees to manage the order workload. Existing staff members can concentrate on more significant and strategic tasks, boosting productivity.
- Integrate Systems
A good OMS should not function in isolation – it should integrate with other systems in your eCommerce business.
For starters, linking with inventory management and CRM keeps all your data consistent across the board. When your OMS integrates with your inventory system, it allows for real-time updates on stock levels.
Secondly, integration with a CRM system means customer information is up-to-date and consistent, improving customer service. Integration between departments permits faster order processing, accurate order fulfillment, and timely customer service.
- Handle Returns and Exchanges Effectively
While you strive for flawless order fulfillment, there will be instances where customers need to return or exchange their purchases. Here are some best practices for handling returns and exchanges:
- Streamlined returns process: Implement a user-friendly returns process on your eCommerce platform. Make it easy for customers to initiate returns or exchanges, providing clear instructions and a hassle-free experience. You can even consider using a phone service online to support you with this.
- Transparent policies: Clearly communicate your return and exchange policies on your website. Customers appreciate knowing what to expect if they need to return a product. Ensure your policies are fair and align with industry standards.
- Efficient processing: Once a return or exchange request is initiated, strive for prompt processing. Quick turnaround times demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. Use your order management system to track the status of returns and keep customers up-to-date.
- Customer communication: Maintain open and transparent communication throughout your return or exchange process. Send automated updates or personalized messages to keep customers informed about the status of their request.
By incorporating these best practices into your online order management process, you’ll improve customer satisfaction and build trust among your customer base.
- Ensure Your Team Is on the Same Page
Boasting a top-notch system is useless if your team isn’t on the same page. So, ensure all employees are trained and aware of the benefits of your system.
Create an internal document outlining the best practices for your order management process. This serves as a valuable tool for acclimating new employees and establishing a standardized guideline for your organization.
You can include various essential practices in this document, such as procedures for order fulfillment (“picking, packing, and shipping”) and crystal-clear outlines for managing the post-sale experience with customers.
- Use Analytics
Analytics and reporting lets you glean insights from your data, unveiling patterns and trends crucial for making informed decisions. Proper use of analytics uncovers hidden challenges, highlights opportunities for improvement, and provides clarity in complex scenarios.
Some essential metrics include:
- Order processing time
- Automated analysis of chargeback trends and patterns
- Cost per order
- Inventory levels
- Customer satisfaction scores
These metrics shed light on the efficiency of your online order management process. By employing advanced analytics, particularly in streamlining chargeback processes and optimizing cost efficiency, businesses can significantly enhance operational efficiency. This ongoing monitoring of key metrics ensures you meet customer expectations and sustainably grow your bottom line.
- Prioritize Continuous Improvement
Emphasize the importance of consistently evaluating and improving your order management process. Regular assessment identifies potential issues or weaknesses and ensures that your system meets your business’s evolving needs.
By prioritizing continuous improvement, your company can adapt to changes, optimize operations, and consistently meet customer expectations.
Boosting your online order management process is not just a matter of operational efficiency – it’s a strategic move to enhance customer satisfaction and secure your competitive edge.
Remember, continuous improvement is the key to staying ahead, so assess your current system, identify areas for improvement, and set clear objectives to ensure your order management process remains agile and customer-centric.
With these insights, you’re well-equipped to streamline your online order management process and foster long-lasting trust and loyalty.
About the Author: Dori Cerulo is a communications expert with over 15 years of experience in content creation and digital marketing, including ecommerce. A data-driven and creative marketer at heart, she specializes in enterprise content strategy, with deep expertise in all things content: ideation and creation, research, editorial planning, operations, content design, and analytics. Here is her LinkedIn.