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Managing orders is a fundamental part of any online retail business, but it’s not always a simple process. Everything from customer satisfaction to your bottom line can be affected by order management. With a streamlined approach, you can ensure your operations are smooth and efficient and avoid the headaches of missed sales, delays and upset shoppers.
Having control over your orders is more important than ever. Customers and businesses are fragmented across websites, marketplaces, social media and other channels, which adds complexity to your orders. You need a multichannel presence for shoppers to find your products, and you need to do this while also managing your other responsibilities.
Learn why order management is important, how to streamline your processes and how to provide a great experience for your customer.
Order management, also known as order fulfillment, refers to everything from tracking incoming orders to managing the processes required to fulfill each of them. Your customer’s experience doesn’t end once the order is shipped, and your online order management process shouldn’t, either. Take a strategic approach by including the after-sales experience, including returns and refunds.
Order management workflows can coordinate tasks among your staff, and synchronize inventory data between systems. This can cover such areas as order placement, picking, packing and shipping, as well as customer satisfaction.
As your business grows and order volume increases, it's difficult to keep up with managing all orders manually. Here are some of the reasons why ecommerce management tools are important and how order management automation benefits high-volume ecommerce websites.
Automated systems can be especially useful for ecommerce businesses experiencing rapid growth. After a customer places an order, these systems immediately go into action, which increases productivity and avoids the wasted time and additional errors associated with manual processes.
Managing multiple sales channels simultaneously is especially difficult when you’re doing it manually through spreadsheets. An order management system (OMS) connects all of your sales channels, including marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart and direct-to-consumer channels like Shopify.
Customers expect a transparent and easy returns policy. Order management automation ensures that returns are seamless. For example, an order management system can automatically print return labels for customers or select a return address for the warehouse closest to the customer. These systems can help customers not only track online orders but also track returns.
Additionally, order management systems can track stock levels across multiple locations, analyze order data across multiple sales channels and coordinate with third-party logistics providers. Essentially, order management systems help businesses be more efficient while providing better customer service.
Ecommerce sellers have a few options for fulfilling orders. There are three main types of order fulfillment:
Order processing is a sequential procedure that encompasses order picking, packing and the delivery of items to a shipping carrier. This process starts with taking and collecting items to fulfill orders, sorting them according to destination, and packing and consolidating them into loading units.
The order picking process consists of locating and collecting products within a warehouse to fulfill orders. This step sits within the overall order management process. Order picking is one of the most controlled logistics processes in an ecommerce business. There are several ways to tackle it.
Order packing consists of placing every item in an order into an appropriate container before shipping to the customer. This process involves the selection of suitable packaging, weighing the final parcel, printing out relevant labels and invoices, and selecting a courier to complete the delivery.
Order packers are the last people to see and touch your products before shipping, making them a crucial checkpoint for spotting simple errors such as incomplete orders, damaged products or mistakes in counts, stock-keeping units or shipping labels.
Before you can ship products to customers, you’ll need to decide on your pricing strategy for shipping and define what shipping methods your business will use.
There are a variety of ecommerce shipping strategies to choose from, including:
If you’re selling online internationally, you’ll also need to research the costs and requirements associated with foreign locations. After you’ve selected your shipping strategies, it’s time to figure out how to calculate your shipping costs. Many elements can affect shipping costs, including package dimensions, weight, destination, shipping service, shipping carrier and total value of the order.
Creating an effective after-sales experience is crucial for customer retention, and it’s a sometimes-overlooked component of order management.
Generally speaking, ecommerce retailers should aim to send a minimum of three confirmation emails — when the order is placed, when it’s on its way and when it’s been delivered. Each of these touch points presents an opportunity to offer personalized messaging or offer incentives toward further purchases.
You should also be ready for negativity in the after-sales experience. Monitor social media and respond to reviews, especially if they’re critical. Have a plan to take care of your ecommerce platform’s returns and refunds. Define your route to return and ensure that you document it for your staff and customers through an official returns policy.
When you improve order management, you’ll streamline business processes, improve customer support, which will support higher rates of customer satisfaction, customer retention and profitability. Order management software can easily automate these processes and enable your business to scale. After you’ve streamlined your order management process, review it on an ongoing basis to find new ways to improve your efficiency in your business and marketplace operations.
Interested in learning more about how a modern order management system can help your business become more efficient? Discover how Rave Coffee used Linnworks automation capabilities to increase their orders 100%!
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