Regardless of what products you sell online, all mid-size and growing businesses have one challenge in common: keeping costs under control while meeting – or exceeding – customer expectations. A lot of that has to do with getting orders delivered quickly and accurately across all of your sales channels as your business evolves. New sales channels, additional volume, changes in customer performance expectations can all put pressure on manual and legacy systems. Not only can this result in lost revenue but an uptick in customer service complaints and returns can increase operating costs
Here are four signs it’s time to implement – or upgrade – an integrated order management system (OMS).
Your sales channels are increasing.
As your brand adds additional sales channels, an efficient order management system is a game changer. Perhaps you started out as a wholesaler, but are now launching an online store for direct to customer sales. Every new channel adds increasing complexity to managing the commerce infrastructure to fulfill, transport, report and analyze orders. Whether your customers are ordering online, by phone, 3rd party, by EDI, or you are placing orders on behalf of your customers, an OMS has the flexibility to seamlessly capture and process multichannel orders.
Your customer service team has trouble locating the information they need to resolve customer issues.
Whether it is a damaged product, a missed delivery, a change of address, or any other customer request, your customer service reps need to be able to quickly and accurately pull up real time data from all of your back end systems. Instead of multiple calls to the warehouse, delivery carriers, etc., all of the customer and order information is located in one place to speed up customer resolution. A tightly integrated, centralized OMS also provides a 360-degree view of customer orders, purchase history, order tracking and preferences so your reps can provide customized service and engagement.
Your customer service team can’t implement order changes.
Sometimes customers need to make changes. An order management system allows your team to change quantities, add or remove items, change the shipping method and process full or partial refunds to existing orders. The ability to make real time updates and changes before an item is shipped greatly reduces the chances of returns and cancellations. Whether it is removing an item, discounting one or more items, or applying a promotional code to the whole order, an OMS gives your agents the tools and flexibility to “make it right.”
You don’t know where your returned merchandise is going.
Returns and reverse logistics are one of the most expensive and time-consuming activities for brands (fashion and apparel brands report returned merchandise as high as 20% of total orders). From a customer perspective, returns should feel like an easy and cohesive experience. From the brand perspective, an OMS can track the reverse logistics from pickup to automatically returning the items to stock. Additionally, OMS analytics helps brands understand return rates by product and consumer segment to make better business and product decisions in the future.
We’ve seen each of the above scenarios with brands whose business is growing faster than their legacy technology systems and processes can support. This is where an OMS really shines. While order management systems used to be the sole province of mega-retailers due to the cost and complexity of implementation; technology advancements, such as software as a service, are making more enterprise level tools available to brands of all sizes. When paired with a well-defined set of customer service policies, an order management system improves workflow efficiency and helps brands provide better customer service, prevent returns, and reduce revenue loss.