When your ecommerce business starts growing, it’s an exciting time. But, it can be a difficult period too. Your manual processes and huge spreadsheets will become overwhelming
If you want to automate some of the most repetitive parts of your ecommerce business, from capturing orders to updating your inventory list to fulfilling orders, you just might need an Order Management System.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
An Order Management System (OMS) is software that helps you manage and automate your ecommerce store order fulfillment process.
Your OMS will bring together data from across your organization such as order information, customer data, inventory levels, and more, and you’ll be able to manage key areas of your business from one place.
It covers the order-to-cash lifecycle, from logging orders, to organizing fulfilment, to invoice management.
The main reason brands start using an OMS is that they’re struggling to unify their data and want more efficiency in their processes.
Your customers expect a personalized and consistent shopping experience every time they visit your website and place an order.
If they had next-day delivery on their first order with you, they’re going to expect that on the second order.
But, as your brand grows, your systems will get tested. If your inventory is low and a customer order can’t be shipped within your usual time frame, you need to make sure your shipping estimates are updated. If not, your customer will place their order, expecting fast delivery, then be left waiting.
Inefficient processes can leave huge gaps in your service experience, resulting in a bad customer experience, leaving your team playing catch-up.
Modern ecommerce companies need an order management system if you want to scale without feeling like your company is about to break at the seams. You’ll save time on manual processes, freeing up you and your team to focus on bigger-picture projects, solving complex customer problems, and setting you up for sustainable growth.
Order Management Systems help with every aspect of your product fulfillment journey.
Here are some of the key areas they can help you with:
A good Order Management software can help with a wide variety of business-critical processes and tasks, ensuring everything in your business is in sync and you can always fulfill your promises to your customers.
The first major benefit to an Order Management System is that it enables your team to automate repetitive but essential processes such as reporting, processing orders, updating inventory levels, and managing returns.
Most good OMS platforms will integrate with all of your existing ecommerce software, eliminating the need for your team to transfer data between tools manually.
At the end of each week, month, or quarter you can use the data in your OMS to build reports for your team to better understand and manage sources of demand, fulfillment operations, transportation lanes. With access to your key metrics, you can use the data to improve your overall operations and run more efficiently, and more profitably.
Another key benefit of using an OMS is that you’ll have more visibility into your most popular products and SKUs.
It can be hard to unify your sales data if you’re selling on multiple platforms, like your own website hosted on Shopify or WooCommerce, plus selling on Amazon and other third-party platforms.
An OMS will integrate with each platform you sell on, bringing your sales data together to make it accessible and accurate.
You’ll know if one particular SKU is trending up on Amazon, or if a product is selling less than usual on your website.
Over time, you can spot trends in customer behavior and make smarter, data-driven inventory management decisions around which fulfillment locations need new stock and how many products you need to order from your suppliers.
Today, most omnichannel ecommerce retailers will have a main store on Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce, as well as selling via online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, Etsy, or other platforms used by your ideal customer.
In the past, you’d need to treat these as separate entities, setting and updating your inventory on a per-platform basis.
If a customer placed an order on your eBay store but you’d mistakenly already sold that item on Amazon, you’d have to let them down with an email letting them know.
You can’t afford to have discrepancies in your stock numbers, and be in the dark over how many SKUs you’re selling per platform. At the end of the quarter, you’ll need to review your orders line-by-line to make sure you’ve accounted for every item correctly — in short, it’s a process you can’t afford to do manually.
With an OMS, you can link every platform you sell on. You’ll be able to easily manage your inventory levels across channels, make pricing updates to individual SKUs across channels, and easily track performance across channels.
Thanks to Amazon Prime, your customers expect next-day or two-day shipping as standard.
If a customer places an order with you and doesn’t receive an update on when their product is arriving by the next-day, they’ll start to wonder: “where’s my order?”
An effective Order Management System will integrate with your fulfillment center and keep your customers updated on their order status in near real-time.
Whenever a relevant update from your shipment partner comes in, the update can be sent directly to your customer so they know where their order is.
You can also reduce shipping times by having your OMS identify which fulfillment centers are closest to your customer and process orders from that location (if the product is in stock there) to get your customers their orders as quickly as possible.
Customer experience is also improved when you are able to accurately predict inventory availability based on sell through and replenishment cycles, and by minimizing your key product and inventory stockouts, you’ll make more sales, and improve your overall profitability.
Related Read: How to Create Shopify Customer Accounts on Your Store
As your company scales up, every part of your operations will be affected.
You’ll need new warehouses. New accounting systems. You might start working with a Third-Party Fulfillment (3PL) partner.
If you’re manually integrating all of your systems, building your own integrations in-house, or relying on manual data transfer, you won’t have any time to spend on what you do best: growing your business.
An OMS can help with scalability as it’ll plug into your existing ecommerce software stack, linking all of your key systems together.
As you grow, your tools will keep your business organized and running smoothly, ensuring your customers experience the same high level of customer service no matter where they order your products from.
In the early days of your ecommerce business, you can do things that don’t scale.
But, as you market your products and build your customer base, you’ll quickly find yourself having to update different spreadsheets manually every time an order comes in, or spending hours on simple tasks that an OMS can easily automate.
Migrating your operations to an OMS can feel like a complex task in itself, so it’s normal to put it off until the last moment. But, if you have ambitious growth plans, it makes sense to start using one sooner rather than later so when you hit high-growth, you won’t be playing catch up, risking letting your customers down.
Every ecommerce company will have different priorities and considerations when choosing an Order Management System. Here are some we’d recommend thinking about before onboarding your whole company to a new OMS.
If an Order Management System doesn’t integrate with your CRM or other key systems, it may not be worth testing. There will always be manual work for you and your team, defeating the point of using an OMS in the first place.
As well as integrating with your tech stack, make sure it integrates with tools you’re potentially going to be using in the future. For example, you might not be using 3PL now, but consider if it’s something you want to do in the future, and if so, look at how the OMS will handle that.
The main benefit of an OMS is that it’ll cut down the manual and repetitive work you need to do every day, week, and month.
Review the processes you’re regularly doing manually:
When you’ve listed them out, find out if the OMS you’re considering can automate it. The more of your repetitive work the OMS can handle, the better. You’ll save more time and have more time to spend on high-leverage tasks and projects.
Related Read: Complete guide on Customer Service Automation
Some OMS’ are designed for small companies selling to one state, or country. Others are designed for giant retailers with a multi-country presence.
When choosing your order management system, find out if it’s designed for a brand like yours. If not, there’s a high chance you’ll either be paying for features you don’t need, or, you’ll outgrow it and need to switch to a new platform in six months.
To ensure you don’t go wrong, map out every feature you want and how the Order Management System will fit in with your growth plans. Then, reach out to the OMS vendors you’re considering and ask if their platform will be a good fit for you. Most will be transparent and honest with you, and it’ll make the decision less of a risk.
The ecommerce landscape changes quickly, and you need to make sure your Order Management System can handle the change.
Make sure the platform is shipping new features regularly and is keeping up with what your customers expect from your experience.
If the platform has an API, it’s also a good sign. You can link your newest tools and build on top of the platform to ensure it always provides the flexibility and functionality you need as you grow.
There are a variety of excellent order management systems out there for fast-growing ecommerce stores. Let’s take a look at them.
Netsuite is an Oracle-owned product and it contains almost every feature you’ll ever need to run and grow an ecommerce brand.
It’s an ERP, CRM, and also includes inventory management tools that show you a real-time view of available inventory across multiple sales channels and store locations.
For most small companies, Netsuite will be overkill. But, as you scale, it does have everything you need to easily grow and understand what’s going on across your entire business and fulfillment chain.
Stitch Labs is for medium-sized to large, high growth brands that need to automate inventory management and easily sell across different channels.
You can track your available inventory across channels, seeing how many units are available in different locations and sales channels, see how many are being sold per platform, as well as seeing what it’s priced at on each sales channel.
It’s used by a variety of fast-growing ecommerce brands like Thinx, Brooklinen, and Sunski.
Veeqo is an “all-in-one inventory fulfillment platform”. It integrates with all of the main ecommerce platforms and channels, including Shopify (and Shopify Plus), Amazon, Magento, WooCommerce, Etsy, and more.
You can use it to track and sync your inventory across every channel and location you’re selling in, and manage every order in one place. You can manage your invoices, find and print shipping labels, and more.
It makes your life easy by syncing everything, so if a customer reaches out to your customer service team, they can search in Veeqo and instantly see which platform they purchased on, the order numbers, and more, then proceed with the most suitable return system.
Brands using Veeqo include established ecommerce companies EVEREVE, Brompton Bikes, and Dove.
If you’re already using Quickbooks for your account needs, Quickbooks Commerce will likely be a great option for you.
You can manage your orders across channels, track your store inventory levels, and review how effective your order fulfillment is across each channel.
Compared to other platforms, it’s very affordable, so it’s ideal if you’re in the early stages of growing your ecommerce business. Because of Quickbooks’ background in accounting, this OMS is also effective at handling multi-currency transactions.
Orderhive’s order management software is another excellent choice for ecommerce brands selling on your own website and other channels like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy.
It syncs all of your orders across all channels (including offline) makes it easy to understand where your sales are happening, which products are performing well, and whether your customer orders are being fulfilled in the promised turnaround time.
The user experience is designed for busy store owners, and features like bulk order confirmation, invoice creation, creating shipping
Your Order Management System will help you solve internal problems and processes as you grow. As you grow, you’ll also see an influx of support queries, which will start to eat into the time you’ve just saved by using an OMS.
What it won’t do is solve your customer support problems for you.
With Richpanel’s customer service CRM, you can bring all of your customer data and order details into one place and start letting your customers solve their support problems themselves.
It’s more than just a help center — our self-service platform lets your customers solve around 50% of their questions without ever needing to talk to a support agent.
Our ability to achieve high levels of customer self-service resolution is because Richpanel was built for ecommerce merchants. We have deep integrations with a wide range of systems that support complex ecommerce ecosystems. These integrations span:
Related Read: Best Shopify Apps to Integrate with Ecommerce
When a complicated customer question comes in — over live chat, email, Facebook, or any other platform you’re using — your self-service systems and support agents can jump in and solve it quickly thanks to having all of the data on customers, orders, and their journeys all in one place and easily accessible to self-service automations and/or your agents.
If you’re ready to start reducing your time spent on customer support and helping your customers resolve the majority of their problems on their own, try Richpanel today.
An Order Management System can help you automate repetitive but business-critical tasks and ensure you’re always up to date with what’s happening in your ecommerce business.
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing one. Before you jump in, consider the key things you need from it. Then, work backwards to find a platform that offers exactly what you need.
Once you’ve integrated your business operations with an OMS, you’ll have a clear overview of exactly what’s going on in your business, be able to accurately track and forecast sales volume, and ensure your fulfillment promises are kept.