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2020: The Year Order Management Changed Forever

Five new trends are shaping shopping in the future, and order management has never been more important. Stay on top of these trends to keep deliveries accurate and on-time, keep customers happy, and position yourself for growth as the economy reopens.

Package sitting outside an apartment door
[Stocksy United/File]

Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 9, 2020.

Porches and stoops are dotted with parcels of all sizes. From flowers to medication to home furnishings, nearly everything can be delivered — and consumers like it that way.

But in this all-digital world, the importance of order management has never been so high. A delayed package or inaccurate delivery can cause a loyal shopper to abandon your brand. This blog explores five new trends in order management that will shape shopping forever. We’ll explore how companies can keep deliveries accurate and on-time, keep customers happy, and drive growth. 

Curbside became a lifeline

Curbside pickup, or click-and-collect, has become popular for grocers and big-box retailers. When in-store shopping became limited or impossible, curbside pickup saved sales for stores. Curbside pickup offers the ease and precision of shopping online with the peace of mind for shoppers. They get the items they need on time. It also eases the last mile fulfillment burden for brands that rely on FedEx, USPS, UPS, and other carriers.

Companies should explore curbside pickup in case reopening plans slow down or revert. It preserves sales, repostions the store, and provides access to in-store inventory online.

Explosive ecommerce activity placed more strain on order management systems

With shelter-in-place orders, consumers panic-bought essential items. We saw record-breaking purchasing spikes for consumer goods and cleaning supplies. There were throttling inventory networks. Home improvement, exercise equipment, and hair styling products are still in peak demand.

But not all companies have order management practices in place to support the influx of shoppers. The result? Frustrating out-of-stocks, inaccurate inventory counts, and faulty orders — leading to upset customers.

Homegrown systems or customized enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) are often used to carry out order management processes. The problem is that these solutions often get delayed sales activity feeds. And, they certainly aren’t built to scale. As we prepare for coming peak events — the holidays, sales, even future lockdown orders — brands must invest in order management for positive shopping experiences. 

Enter: customer-first order management. Solutions like Salesforce Order Management are designed to help brands quickly extend capabilities to meet customer needs with easy-to-use tools and complete order visibility. As a result, brands streamline the entire post-purchase process by getting customers the products they want on their terms. 

Transparency around delays became critical

COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain and fulfillment processes, No matter the origin of the delay, customers experienced longer wait times. 

How can you become more transparent? First, deploy self-service capabilities.This way, shoppers can easily check on their order status online or via an app. You can also use bots to collect upfront order details and provide order status on your website. This frees up agents to handle more complex cases.

Alert customers if there are changes to your returns policies or other purchasing basics. Add a link to FAQs to your homepage if that’s where you’re collecting the most up-to-date information. 

Returns became more difficult than ever

Before COVID-19, there was an explosion in returns innovation. This included successful partnerships like Amazon and Kohl’s. Shoppers could return Amazon purchases in their local Kohl’s store. Now, with concerns about visiting a post office or store, shoppers have been sitting on returns.

To manage the difficult returns process, customer service can help. Self-service capabilities, like a workflow in your customer portal, can guide shoppers through their next actions on returns or exchanges.

For some, post-purchase experiences change permanently

A silver lining to a digital-first world has been the influx of new online shoppers. With online as a preferred option — or sometimes the only option — behaviors emerged that will likely outlive the pandemic.Shoppers will turn to ecommerce for holiday shopping. As tolerance lowers for delays, the order management experience is critical. 

Kemberly Gong is Director of Product Marketing for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, who is responsible for messaging and positioning of integrated solutions for Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud. In her nearly three years at Salesforce, Kem has worked on both the Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud, creating content, enabling sales teams and managing event strategy. Kem has more than 12 years' experience in eCommerce, software product marketing and content marketing, and holds a BS in Journalism and a BA in Political Science from San Jose State University.

More by Kemberly

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