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Top 10 Tips for Multichannel Order Management and Software Solutions

Retailing through a single channel to market whether eBay, Amazon or your own webstore creates tiresome order management administration which grows as your sales and order volumes increase. But the workload can be handled using the order processing features available on each of these outlets. But as your business expands, so will your need to make your products available to your customers where they want to buy them – and that means multi-channel selling. With customers accessing and buying your products from multiple channels they are thereby using various technology platforms and so must you.
 
Each and every sales channel brings with it another system to log into, another user interface to navigate around and another set of processes to manage when handling your orders. And because your orders reside in different places, it can sometimes feel you’re running multiple businesses. Business reporting and analytics become incredibly difficult and getting a holistic view of your business can seem impossible. Under these circumstances, the need for an intelligent, automated order management system is more important than ever. That order management system must be agile and it must be integrated with, or be part of your overall eCommerce management system in order to deliver a true omnichannel experience.
 
Order management refers to the entire order process including product listing, inventory management, order placement and processing, billing, payment collection, fulfillment, shipping management, CRM and communication. But we will focus here specifically on the order processing part of the process. There are several eCommerce OMS’s available (of which ours is just one) but we won’t be biased and instead we’ll just focus on the top tips for best practice.
 
Below are our top 10 order management best practices as well as key considerations that will ensure you choose and implement the most efficient and cost-effective order management system in place for your eCommerce business:

 

1. Define Your Needs

 
You will probably already have an eCommerce shopping cart platform (like Magento, EKM, BigCommerce or Shopify) and these solutions have some form of order management capability built-in. It’s important to first understand the limitations of your current webstore platform and its ability to natively integrate with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay before seeking out an OMS aggregator like ChannelGrabber. Then decide what you consider to be the most important features needed for your specific online business. What will save you the most time, increase efficiency and productivity.

 

2. Unify Your Data Sources

 
Consolidating your data into a single data source is critical to improving efficiencies, eliminating duplication and eradicating errors. Drawing together product, inventory and customer information as well as your all-important order data reduces the time and resources needed to manage them. A system that can consolidate all of your eCommerce data into “one source of truth” for universal access, processing and reporting to will also help to ensure data quality and improve overall services.
 

 

3. Aggregation Through Integration

 
Your customers want a product, quickly and they enjoy timely and clear communication. They want to buy wherever they choose and expect a seamless omnichannel experience. They will buy your products on your website, webstore, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay and they’ll do so on their computer, laptop or smartphones any time and anywhere. Your eCommerce order management system must be able to manage all of these types of orders from all these channels through a single system that everyone in your organization can have access to.
 
This is achieved through direct integration between your order management system and your sales channels. You should ensure that your chosen order management system is capable of integrating with your webstore and your chosen marketplaces as a minimum. Integration means that data can flow bi-directionally between your order management system and the other systems with which it integrates with minimal if any human intervention. Once again, order management aggregation across all of your sales channels will streamline your order management while eliminating the potential for errors around manual processes needed to track and consolidate orders.
 

4. All Your Orders in One Place

 
A fully integrated order management system will provide you with one user interface, and one location from which you can view and manage your orders wherever they originated. It should fetch your orders from those channels in real time and syncronise any changes you make back to the originating system. This means that you won’t need to log in to multiple systems or websites to keep track of and process your orders. And with all of your orders in one place, you should be able to benefit from executing bulk actions. This allows you to action all or batches of them all at the same time. So for example, you should be able to select all new orders (orders paid for but not yet dispatched) and then with a single click of the action button you can process them all instantly.
 

 

5. Barcode Scanning

 
Having all your orders in one place makes processing multi-channel orders as easy as managing orders on a single channel and dramatically reduces the number of administrative tasks involved in receiving an order, from processing it to getting it out of the door. Several order management systems enable you to scan your invoice using any standard barcode scanner to either view the order, or mark the order as dispatched. When you scan that barcode from any page of the order management system, it will perform the action.
 

 

6. Automation

 
Your customers have no concern for the complexity of omnichannel eCommerce management or the workload their convenience creates for the retailer. They expect a seamless experience and with the likes of Amazon now delivering Prime orders same day in larger cities, they expect the retailer to process orders immediately. Of course we know that for every order, there are many steps that need to be completed. The aim, indeed the necessity is to automate the completion of as many of those steps as possible. Every manual intervention introduces delays and increases costs and the likelihood of potentially costly errors. Your chosen order management system must be able to reduce, and ultimately, eliminate any manual steps in your order management process. This will not only improve efficiencies, but it will also free up valuable resources to focus on productive activity – like improving sales, improving delivery times and increasing ROI.
 

 

7. Managing Your Inventory

 
We cover inventory management in greater depth in several of our other articles but it’s worth noting here that your customers buy products that need to be listed from a single source of truth onto your various sales channels. Your inventory must then be associated with those products. We advocate unifying your stock levels to ensure that all of your stock is available everywhere at all times. But to manage this, you need to have an order management system that syncronises stock levels in real time across all of your sales channels. If you can’t do this then you risk overselling and disappointing customers or running low on stock in one outlet or another and missing those larger orders. Check out more on this topic here.

 

8. Customise, brand, and automate your invoices

 

Although some webstore platforms offer rudimentary invoicing capabilities, this has typically been a weakness or shortcoming of the marketplaces. Retailers are left to create generic invoices through the software platforms themselves or create their own either in their accounting software or manually which they then forward to customers. In selecting an order management system you should once again consider the benefits of unification of platform, process and methodology. Handling all of your billing at the point of sale using a single system then dispatching the invoice immediately to the customer saves time and ensures a better customer experience. Some OMS’s offer the ability to customer and brand invoices by sales entity and by sales channel with the obvious benefits for your brand identity, professionalism and customer experience. Look out for the capability to integrate with your accounting system. This will avoid further duplication of effort.

 
 

9. Simplify order shipping

 
Today’s eCommerce businesses no longer rely on one source for fulfillment. Many businesses have multiple warehouses, third party logistic providers, drop-shippers and in some cases, in-store fulfillment. Your system needs to be integrated with each fulfillment source so that every order is routed automatically and fulfilled in a timely manner. Where appropriate, shipping rules need to be automated, labels need to be printed and carriers and customers need to be notified of readiness, dispatch and tracking information. Automating your management of shipping will also help with inventory management across all of your online sales channels. 
 

 

10. Faster and more effective customer communication with consolidated messages

 
Customers routinely cite timely, proactive and clear communication as a key component of customer service. When pre-ordering, customers need to be able to send you messages, questions and queries and these need to be handled promptly. Once an order has been placed, customers need to be informed immediately when their order was received, processed and any predicted issues or delays. They need to be billed and they need to know when their order will ship and has shipped. Since customers may interact at any time with any member of staff, everyone involved in order management needs to be able to access all messages, to and from customers, in one place. Having a system that can consolidate customer and order data from each sales channel and links this to bi-directional customer communication is critical to good customer service and gives your sales and marketing teams access to information and valuable insights that can drive sales and improve customer satisfaction.  
 
Managing orders is complex and the complexity grows exponentially as you sell through more sales channels. But there’s no doubt that it is one of the most important processes an online retailer has to manage. Any modern retailer has to be able to keep up with and satisfy the needs and expectations of their customers and enable them to choose how and where they purchase. That means you have to be equipped for omnichannel ecommerce. But with constantly changing disparate technologies it is equally essential that retailers look to system integration, data and process unification and order management aggregation to reduce complexity, improve efficiency and productivity and maximize customer satisfaction to enable you to scale and successfully grow your online business.
 
And don't forget, ChannelGrabber's multi-channel ecommerce software helps you to automate the management of listings, stock, orders, billing, shipping and messaging so frees up your time to focus on making more sales!
 
 
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