Seamless order management is important for ensuring the best possible online shopping experience for customers, writes Mark Troselj. Here’s how to to begin streamlining your operations.
Businesses trying to move toward an omnichannel environment are painfully aware of the challenges of managing orders over disparate channels with a set of siloed applications. The key to delivering a better brand experience, however, starts with streamlining your order management.
Customers don’t care how they get the products they want. What they do care about is accurate information, that the product arrives according to timing and description, and any variations are communicated quickly and accurately. They expect retailers to take care of them throughout their entire buying process and get the products they want regardless of channel.
The problem is that most retailers can’t provide this seamless order management that is so important to consumers. In fact, most retailers are still running their businesses across separate siloes with no real-time visibility into inventory levels across the organisation.
It is not uncommon for a retailer to be out of stock of a particular product online for example, yet not have the ability to inform the customer which of its physical stores may have the product available so they can buy in-store if they want to. I know I’ve had to ring around many store locations myself just to find a particular product because a retailer’s systems couldn’t tell me where it was. Not only is this frustrating and a complete waste of time for a shopper, it is damaging to the retailers’ brand reputation and is enough to persuade the shopper to look elsewhere to find an easier shopping experience. There’s always the chance that your online customer is instantly offered a better alternative – it’s a great feeling as a consumer to get an upgrade or newer model for the same price.
Integrated Commerce Platform
This shouldn’t happen if a retailer is working from an integrated commerce platform. Such a system should have the ability to alert a shopper to the closest store with the product wanted in stock, as well as provide several options on how to get the product – buy online/pick-up in store or buy online and ship from the store to the shopper’s home.
Shoppers are also demanding the ability to track an order online after a purchase has been made. If a retailer’s order management software is seamlessly integrated across its entire business, the shopper should be able to log on to the ecommerce website to access their order information and perform routine tasks, including view purchase history, cancel an order, track shipments and manage returns. Not only does this improve a customers’ brand experience, it also reduces customer service costs.
Fulfill Orders On Time and Get Paid Quicker
There is no doubt that having a seamless order management process in place delivers a faster path to increased sales, improved operational efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction and retention. By optimising your order-to-cash process and integrating the complete order-to-cash cycle to improve quote accuracy, eliminate manual inefficiencies and errors, and strengthen revenue recognition processes, you can fulfill orders on time and get paid quickly.
Vet-N-Pet Direct is a great example of an online retailer that has significantly improved its processes by implementing an integrated order management system. It has gained an array of billing options including invoice, usage-based and recurring billing, as well as associated payment capture and refunds, to support the wide range of business models required to serve its customers today. It can now also manage the lifecycle of a transaction—order-to-fulfillment-to-payment capture-to-repurchase, giving it much needed visibility into its business. The ability to trace an order to its precise location in the supply chain in real-time has significantly improved the service it offers its B2C and B2B customers.
Empower Your Organisation
The great thing about seamless order management is that it empowers your entire organisation, from sales and service teams, finance managers to fulfilment specialists, with role-based real-time visibility into orders and invoice ageing, as well as detailed order status and history. This allow them to quickly identify issues, reduce turnaround times and resolve customer queries to strengthen customer relationships.
By ensuring seamless control of customer orders, from order receipt to financial settlement, you can eliminate the errors and time spent manually transferring orders from the web store to inventory, shipping and accounting. Customers, suppliers and your partners always know exactly what’s happening with every order. Automated processes and better accuracy means faster orders, more satisfied customers and lower operational costs.
Not only does having a seamless order management system in place improve the overall customer experience, it also streamlines the entire business process. It’s time for retailers to take a good hard look at their order management system, or risk losing customers jumping to the competition, lost sales and the high costs of running separate systems.