Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 9, 2020.
It’s hard to overstate how much shopping habits and customer expectations have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Q2 2020 alone, global digital revenue soared 71% compared to the previous year. Ecommerce sites that offered buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup grew digital revenue 127% year over year.
The pandemic has proven that omni-channel retail isn’t something to strive for. It’s something brands and retailers must deliver today.
The non-linear way we shop can wreak havoc on legacy order management systems. This is especially true for those that aren’t integrated with an ecommerce platform. Manual workarounds, form submissions, and brittle technology integrations create the potential for botched returns, missing orders, delays, and, of course, frustrated customers.
There’s a mind-boggling web of systems that govern orders and inventory. Those systems are getting smarter than ever. Next-generation order management systems are able to capture orders and process fulfillment across physical stores and online. The best order management systems integrate into ecommerce solutions, so that orders are seamlessly processed, regardless of channel. Buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup are classic examples of how this works.
Here are some ways that customer-first order management enables omni-channel retail:
Retailers can turn stores into distribution centers
Retailers are constantly under pressure to hold down shipping costs, even as they experience COVID-19 surcharges from traditional fulfillment partners. At the same time, customers want their orders as quickly as possible from the stores closest to them. Order management systems can help solve both. They empower merchants to activate all inventory in stores and warehouses to be sold online. They also prioritize shipping across short distances to save on costs. Having an order management system integrated to commerce helps retailers achieve a single source of truth — down to location-level inventory to optimize every order fulfilled.
Retailers can turn returners into shoppers
With billions in merchandise returned each year, returns are the bane of retailers’ existence. Still, retailers have to ensure a smooth returns process in-store or online (with the help of self-service tools like a help center or chatbot). With tight integration into ecommerce and customer service software, a great OMS connects shoppers to their order history and allows for easy exchanges,returns, and cancellations with self-service options on the channels shoppers prefer.
Getting to the next phase of omni-channel
Order management today is not just about processing orders. It’s about integrating all customer-facing systems that impact the purchase and post-purchase experience. The key is to make that available and accessible in a single unified platform.
Start by bridging the online and in-store experience. This gives you a single view of customer preferences, purchases, and order information. You can use that same information to enable BOPIS or endless aisle solutions. Conversely, store associates can use this information to provide the best customer experience.
Salesforce Order Management can help. You can deliver fast and easy shipping, transparent order status, and hassle-free returns at global scale, all powered by the world’s #1 CRM. Partners such as Mad Mobile, NewStore, and PredictSpring work in concert with us. They all bring something to the table, so you can choose the solution that makes sense for your business.
This is what customer-first order management is all about. Learn about the tenets of customer-first order management and build your roadmap with our guide, Beyond the Buy Button.