Customers placing lots of orders is the best part of running an e-commerce store, right? It means business is booming. However, managing those orders is a tricky business. That said, there are plenty of ways you can take control of your order management.
We’ve got 5 great tips coming up, but first…
What is order management?
Even though it seems very obvious, order management is so much more than ‘just’ managing orders. Think of it as the brains behind every step in the ordering and fulfilment journey.
How you manage orders can make or break your relationship with customers. Get it right, and you can build customer loyalty, boost your revenue streams, and even find ways to save money!
To manage a high volume of orders properly, you need an Order Management System (OMS). Unlike a WMS (Warehouse Management System) which only manages your warehouse processes, an OMS is a digital way to manage the entire lifecycle of an order.
It will track all the information and processes needed to fulfil an order. This includes order entry, fulfilment, after-sales services, and more. An OMS can easily be integrated with a WMS, and using both systems together will make for more efficient inbound and outbound logistics.
However, an OMS is just one piece of the streamlining jigsaw.
The importance of optimised and accurate order management
Nearly every process and system in your supply chain is touched by order management. However, like most companies, perhaps you no longer oversee order management in-house.
You might have multiple partners involved, like picking and packing services or third-party shipping companies.
This makes it very easy to lose sight and control of orders. You then have to rely on costly manual processes to complete and deliver orders without errors.
An OMS gives you complete order visibility, helps you control costs, allows you to automate manual processes and reduce errors.
Equally, accurate and optimised order management is important to your business reputation. It can have a direct impact on how people perceive your brand.
Your customers expect a seamless experience. As you fulfil an order, they will want to see updates every step of the way.
Each point in your order management process is an opportunity to provide a positive customer experience, boost retention and revenue. That’s why optimised and accurate order management is a game changer.
With that in mind, here are 5 ways to optimise your order management process to get the best out of it.
5 ways to optimize your order management
1. Streamline your warehouse management
Picking and packing orders is a hugely time-consuming and labor intensive job. According to Business Insider, warehouse workers spend anywhere between 10 and 12 hours a day picking items off shelves. That’s a lot of prep time, and tired workers make for more errors.
The fact is, simplifying your pick and pack process will save time, reduce errors, and improve overall order management.
Yes. You can change the layout of your warehouse, reorganise your inventory, use a warehouse management system, and have orders double checked before shipping. But who’s going to sort all that out?
Changing the way orders are picked and packed is a quick win in the first instance. Semi-automating or fully automating your pick and pack process with a solution like Sendcloud’s Pack & Go is a game changer. Easily process orders and print labels in just one click. Pick items more efficiently with picking lists and then pack orders with the help of packing slips. An additional feature like Item Packing lets you scan items off as you go, offering an extra check before sending off the items to your customer.
2. Improve order visibility and communication
Nothing frustrates customers more than being left in the dark about the status of their order. They won’t stand for ambiguous answers as to why their order is delayed. Equally, they won’t let you get away with saying nothing at all.
Then there’s your customer service reps. If they don’t have access to the right information to answer customer queries, you will have them on your back as well.
One of the secrets to order management success is order visibility. Giving customers and your customer service reps the ability to track orders provides peace of mind.
If you can’t track an order, it will mean more time spent answering emails and phone calls from unhappy customers, resulting in a frustrated customer service department. Plus, your brand reputation could take a hit.
This is all avoidable. With fully automated tracking emails and pages that provide clear and timely updates, you can make sure your customers know what’s going on with their orders at all times. Added bonus: all your tracking emails can be sent in your own branding to improve customer loyalty.
3. Streamline your returns process
Returns are an inevitable part of your e-commerce business. So why not make this process more efficient?
Customers want the flexibility to return items, often at no cost to them. The last thing you want is people hesitating to buy and abandoning carts because of an unfriendly return policy or high return costs.
Your returns policy should make it as easy as possible to send items back to you. In our latest Consumer Research we found that 71% of online shoppers would order more frequently from an online store if they offer a fast and easy way to return items.
Not only does it improve the customer experience, an efficient returns process will also make it easier and quicker to resell the items that are returned to you.
This is how you make your returns process easy for yourself and your customers:
- Have a clear returns policy. Make return terms and timelines clear so your customers know what to expect and you receive the returned items in a timely manner.
- Provide them with a return label in the box. Not only does this improve the customer experience, it also reduces the workload on your customer service.
- Use an automated return portal. Your entire return process can be automated. This makes life easier for you, and gives customers a self-service return experience that’s convenient.
- Implement an efficient reverse logistics system. Once the returned items are received, it is important to have an efficient system in place to process them. This includes inspecting the items, determining whether they can be resold, and preparing them for resale.
4. Use analytics to monitor orders and returns
Analytics help you to measure user behavior, performance trends, return on investment, and more. In modern e-commerce, information and data is power.
This is especially true for your sales and customer service teams who deal directly with customers when it comes to orders, payments, shipments and returns. Having the right data in real-time is a game changer.
Equally, access to analytics is key to optimising your order management long-term. Having reliable data on order and return trends, shipping times and revenue generated helps you to make faster business decisions.
Data points will tell you stories about your business you might not have even known about. Let’s say you’re seeing certain items sent back more than others. Access to analytics helps you to chart those returns and see how to reduce the return rate.
Perhaps you’re seeing a particular product flying off the shelves. Reliable data would tell you exactly how many you’re selling. Based on the analytics, you could decide to reposition that product in your warehouse for faster picking and packing.
Having reliable analytics lets you zero in on those areas of your order management process that need attention. Accurate data gives you a clear picture of what’s happening across every business department.
Visibility like that means:
- Greater operational efficiency
- Accurate forecasting
- Reduced risk
5. Integrate your shipping process
With order management, time is of the essence – mostly thanks to Amazon setting standards so high. Thank you Mr Bezos! This means you have to get creative with managing your orders.
Delivery is key to successful order management. So, it makes sense to integrate your OMS with shipping software like Sendcloud.
When you integrate a shipping platform with your order management system, immediately order data can be quickly and easily shared. This means faster delivery for your customers, lower operational costs for your business. Win-win!
By integrating your OMS with a shipping platform, here are some of the things you can do:
- Connect with carriers in seconds
- Create shipping labels almost instantly
- Track orders
- Generate customs forms to ship globally
- Create branded tracking messages
- Process any returns automatically
In working practice, you will have a powerful integration for booking in consignments and printing dispatch labels within seconds. In most cases, you will just need to scan your item bar codes and the shipping platform will take care of the rest. This is a huge time saver.
Your shipping is an order management performance metric you should be measuring. Combining a shipping platform with your OMS lets you monitor your order fulfilment cycle time to identify bottlenecks and remove or reduce them. This makes for better shipping and more satisfied customers.
Streamlining your order management makes a big difference to business performance. However, there’s only so much streamlining you can do. Your order management system might need a power-up, and integrating with a shipping platform like Sendcloud is a good place to start.
This will pave the way for optimizing your warehouse management, improving order visibility and customer communication, streamlining your returns process and accessing key data to help your business run better.
You can set up a Sendcloud demo right here, right now and see for yourself how we can play a part in optimising your order management.