What You Want in an Order Management System
The most important attribute of a business is profitability. Close behind, the next most important feature is organization; a disorganized business isn’t long for the market. Perhaps the easiest way to stay organized, even amidst hectic startups and unpredictable economies, is to rely on an order management system to track orders from receipt to delivery.
Fortunately, there are dozens of order management systems available, so you can find the one that perfectly suits your business needs. Unfortunately, not all OMS providers offer the same features or pricing structures, so it is possible for you to be stuck with a cheap option that does little to keep your business organized and on track. To prevent the latter scenario, here are the features you definitely want in your order management system.
Perhaps this is the most obvious feature for an order management system, but it is nevertheless true: Your OMS must sync with your inventory management system. Making sales on products that are already sold out is an extremely bad practice that makes customers angry and wastes employee time. A thorough order management system can track items placed in carts – but not yet purchased – and update stock levels to keep employees aware of resupply needs. An inability to integrate with inventory is a major red flag in an OMS.
Any small or medium-sized business that isn’t using QuickBooks for accounting and other administrative purposes needs to reconsider. Intuit’s software suite is incredibly comprehensive, allowing businesses to manage sales, marketing, training, inventory, and more. Therefore, an order management system that integrates with QuickBooks is a powerful tool. For one, it assists workers’ productivity by maintaining all pertinent information within one practical program. For another, it ensures accuracy of data by eliminating the need for workers to transcribe figures from one source to another. With order management integration, as soon as an order is made or input into the system, it appears in QuickBooks, so all workers can see and use that information, remaining organized and productive.
When customers make orders online, they might have a few expectations, most are looking for at least two features: intuitiveness of ordering process and access to order information. Your OMS should be able to provide both. It should be obvious why you need to keep customers happy, but in addition to developing loyalty in your customers, you should be eager to relieve your sales staff and customer service department of the added responsibility of answering simple questions, like “When will my order arrive?” and “What is your return policy?” Instead, that information should be provided through the order management system.
Some customer management features of an OMS might include:
- Customized order forms, so customers can find frequently ordered items quickly.
- Order information and history, usually emailed, which should include answers to FAQs and other data that prevent unnecessary customer service queries.
- Stock information, so customers know how much is available, which can inform their buying decision.
- Shipping information, so customers know when to expect their orders.
Sales Rep Management
A system that does not allow employees to quickly and easily find the information they need is not a system you want for your business. Sales reps need to act efficiently to deliver accurate information to customers; order fulfillment is inherently a time-consuming process, and the sooner orders can be completed, the better. Armed with the right order management tools, your sales reps can take more orders faster, increasing your business’s profits. The most useful sales management tools include:
- Online order forms. Your sales team should be able to log orders even away from the home office. Hosting integrated forms online provides constant access for 24/7 sales.
- Customer-specific pricing. Different conditions may trigger different pricing structures. Order managers should be flexible.
- Customer information tracking. Sales reps need access to customer information to provide the best possible experience and make the most sales.
Integrating warehouse processes with your order management system will help your business run even more smoothly. The warehouse is responsible for packaging and sending orders, so they are integral in order fulfilment. The sooner warehouse workers are aware of incoming orders and the sooner you know of the orders’ fulfillment, the better. With warehouse integration, you can simplify your logistics, decreasing order fulfilment time. Plus, you can offer customers more accurate shipping information, so they aren’t anxiously awaiting details on their orders.