So the time has come for you to choose an order management system. DUN DUN DURN. Talk about analysis paralysis. Where do you even start? How should you be assessing different vendors? Take a breath because we’re about to help you with this.
Now, this may be stating the obvious a little, but choosing the right order management software is a pretty big commitment. You’ll be spending a lot of time together so the fit needs to be right.
And one size certainly doesn’t fit all. There is no ultimate, best OMS (order management system). It’s all about finding the right one for YOUR business. That’s it.
Here’s the end goal: you want an OMS which “makes life really more efficient, which will translate to more sales and ultimately the success and survival of the company.” – Jeriel Tan
Not too much pressure then. So, where do you start?
In this guide:
- What to do before you start looking for order management software
- Order management software checklist
- Specifics to look at when evaluating order management systems
- Does the software have the essentials for a smooth order management process?
Before you pick up the phone and start a frenzied demo-booking marathon, let’s get organized and really clear on what you actually need.
“If you're looking at your order management, what does that look like on paper? What are your business requirements around that? Ask yourself those questions and physically map it out”
Caseblocks elaborates a little more on this:
“Is processing an order a simple task or is it complex with lots of different people, departments and 3rd parties involved? Thinking about what your processes look like and documenting how orders flow through your business is a great way to work out what you need an Order Management system to do. This will then make it easier to explain to vendors the way you operate and what you need to be able to do in your new system.”
Makes sense. Without doing this, you won’t have the full picture and so the prospective software vendors won’t either.
So, main things to think about:
- What is your order management process at the moment, step by step?
- Which areas need improving?
- What does your ideal order management process look like?
It’s also crucial to think about where you’re headed in the long-term. Wilson weighs in here on the importance of not being short-sighted:
“You don't want to select a system based on what you do now. You want to define what you want to look like in the future and integrate those requirements into your selection process.”
At the end of the day, there’s no point choosing software that’ll be near enough useless to you 12 months down the line. Things to think about may include:
- What are your plans for growth over the long term?
- How might those plans change your current processes?
- Any parts of your existing processes that you plan to overhaul later on?
Yeah, that’s a tad vague (sorry!). But every business is different. Just encouraging you to think along those kinds of lines is what we’re going for here.
1. Write down your order management system objectives and rank them by priority
Have a think about which features and integrations you need, and maybe ask other team members to weigh in on this. By forcing yourself to rank system requirements in order of importance, you’ll stop yourself being greedy weed out your “essentials” from your “wish list” functions. Remember to consider your long-term master plan that we talked about in the previous section.
2. Take note of important data
Jot down your:
- Order volume
- Number of SKUs
- Your ideal timeline for implementing new software
- How much time you’re willing to commit to training
- Any details about software you’re currently using
- Which channels you’re selling on, or planning to sell on
Again, this builds up that holistic view which helps you get super clear on your requirements. And when the time comes to talk to vendors about your needs, the conversations will be more productive when you’ve got these details to hand.
3. Research order management software providers
Yep, we’ve done a lot of ground work but now it’s time to start checking out vendors, based on the criteria you’ve jotted down.
The goal is to make a shortlist of 4-6 vendors to contact, to book demos or trials etc.
If you want to see a deep analysis of OMS vendors, go here.
While researching, if you find a provider that may be THE ONE, and then you find that ‘oh damn, they don’t have that feature or integration I wanted’, don’t despair. It’s still worth reaching out because you never know, they may already be working on that feature, or there may be another way for them to give you what you’re looking for. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
4. Score the vendors
Ok, so now you’ve had some demos etc, and learned more about the companies on your shortlist. How did they measure up against your criteria? Any pleasant surprises? Any that kinda left you feeling a bit flat? It’s a good idea to use a tally or point system here.
End goal: pick 2-3 finalists.
5. Final evaluation
In a perfect world, you’ll find a vendor who’s a match made in heaven that ticks all the boxes. But we’re not exactly in a perfect world (we won’t pull at that thread!). Is there anything you’re willing to let slide, in order to work with the provider who feels like the best fit?
Bowden notes that “features and function alone shouldn’t be your sole selection criteria as you’ll want to take into account the entirety of the business relationship you’re getting into.”
Think of the swans at the beginning of this post (THE SWANS). One company may look perfect on paper, but the staff you spoke to didn’t seem that friendly or the vibe just didn't feel right. It’s worth asking yourself if you’re really gonna want to work with them long-term.
On the other hand, there may be a company who didn’t quite meet all your requirements but were helpful and open to the idea of developing features you mentioned. Would that ultimately work out to be a better relationship?
The point is, you need to look at the whole picture (we’re sensing an unintentional theme in this article) and make a judgement call.
How quick will the software be to set up, and how easy will it be to use?
It makes sense to choose software that’s gonna make your life easier, not harder. The set-up process should be as painless as possible. No convoluted data migration or manual transferring. Look for software where it’s just a case of grabbing the data straight from sales channels and . . . well, that’s it.
It would also be a nightmare and a time suck to go for a complex platform that requires a ton of staff training. How easy is the system that you’re using now (if applicable)? What are your team used to and how techy are they?
It’s a good idea to choose straightforward software that includes some basic training and is easy to demonstrate to your team. You know, a system that won’t create too many waves or glitches in your workplace.
Circle Commerce sum it up nicely: “confusing interfaces can lead to lower productivity and overall frustration. When looking for an OMS, be sure to look for a system that is easy to use and feels natural/intuitive.”
On a side note: it’s also worth thinking about accessibility. Will your team be able to access the system, anywhere, anytime, on any device? If that’s what you’re after, then a cloud-based OMS is a great option.
What are you getting for your money?
This is a no-brainer: you wanna make sure you’re getting value for money.
Here’s the key thing to remember:
“Sometimes the ‘best’ and most expensive software on the market might not actually be the best for you.” – Jodie Pride at Veeqo
So don’t let yourself be immediately drawn in by pricey, super shiny software that's got magpies salivating all over it.
It’s about finding that perfect partner for your business. And making sure that what you’re paying for is a good investment that’s gonna be sustainable in the long run.
Here are things to consider when thinking about what you’re getting for your money:
Scalability and Flexibility
Circle Commerce has some great advice:
“As you’re able to take and manage orders more efficiently, you can spend more time on marketing and work towards increasing revenue. As a result, look for an OMS that can grow with you. Adding a new user or utilizing a new module should be simple and quick, allowing you to focus on your company, not on the software that’s running it.”
So yeah, go for a system that doesn’t give you a throbbing headache and is capable of growing painlessly with your business. Got it.
While we’re on the topic of scalability: look for software that lets you have unlimited users at no extra charge so if your team expands, you won’t need to pay out for that privilege.
Keep your peepers open for an OMS that is priced according to your order volume, that you can increase or decrease anytime if your order volume changes. That way, you’re always paying for exactly what you need.
Also, be on the lookout for flexible payment arrangements, where you get a choice of paying monthly or yearly. It’s nice to have control over your cash flow. If you go with a cloud-based order management system, you should have this option.
Ultimately, if the software you choose has too many restrictions and just isn’t adaptable, you’re bound to run into walls with it later on.
Security, updates and new features
Are these essentials baked into your fees? Or will you have to pay extra for them?
If you go for a SaaS-based order management system, these are usually included as part of your subscription cost.
It’s wise to implement software that doesn’t go out of date. So you’re paying one price for a system that is continually updated and upgraded, meaning you always have the latest version.
Other noteworthy things in terms of getting value for money:
- Is the vendor adding new features consistently?
- Are they customer-focused and proactive about requested features?
If they’re not doing either of these things, then you may end up paying out for stagnant software, to put it bluntly. Your provider should be excited about giving you the best OMS, and growing the platform. In other words, they should be adding more value over time to keep you feeling good about paying for it!
This post is a checklist buffet. But here’s another one. Must-have functions to look for:
- Brings multiple selling channels into one central location for easy management
- Order timelines, so you can click into each order and see the details/status
- Can bulk action orders with a single click to save time
- Can create pick lists easily
- Can create batches of orders easily to distribute daily workload
- Multi-courier integrations to create shipping labels etc
- Scannable invoices to view orders, or mark as dispatched
- Invoices and shipping labels combined, to save unnecessary extra printing
- Customizable order dispatch emails
- Tracking info that’s sent out automatically to customers
And we’d just like to note at this point (because it feels like the right time) that ChannelGrabber offers all of those functions.
We offer all these wonderful things too:
- Super clean, easy-to-use interface
- Live training session to get you comfortable with the software
- Accessible anywhere, anytime, on all devices
- Monthly or annual payment plans
- Cost is based on order volume
- Can upgrade or downgrade anytime
- Unlimited users included free of charge
- Security, updates and upgrades included in the cost
- We listen to what our customers want
Oh, and we like to think we’re easy to get along with. But we may admittedly be a little biased. Our part-time canine team member is an excellent judge of character though, and she likes us:
Have a chat with us here at ChannelGrabber and see how we can help your business grow: