- What is an order management system?
- What are the benefits of an order management system?
- How an order management system streamlines vital business functions
- Factors to consider when choosing an order management system
- Optimise order management: Move faster at lower cost with Salesforce Commerce Cloud
For every industry, whether it is manufacturing, retail, or e-commerce, an order represents an opportunity to build long-term relationships and grow your business, impacting almost all of your business operations. But with the explosion of online shopping and increased demand for faster deliveries, managing orders could become challenging. B2B orders are often complex and require customisation with regard to pricing or unique delivery schedules. On the other hand, B2C orders could be lower in size but higher in volume and frequency. But whether it’s B2B or B2C business, customers expect fast and accurate deliveries, and oversights could lead to negative reviews and even lost sales. The last thing you’d want is for a customer to receive the wrong or delayed delivery that hurts your reputation.
What you need is a one-stop solution for accurate order fulfilment that also helps you exceed customer expectations, lower costs, and grow efficiently, whether it is a customer’s first purchase or one of many. This is where an order management system can help.
What is an order management system?
An order management system is a platform that manages everything that happens after a customer places an order. It helps control all operational processes, people, systems, and partnerships that are needed for order fulfilment. The system helps you keep track of orders, inventory, payments, customer care, etc, and also acts as a unified source of order visibility for all teams- sales, operations, logistics, and customer support.
What are the benefits of an order management system?
An efficient order management system:
- Enables accuracy and transparency in activities such as order processing, order fulfilment, shipping management and more
- Aligns workflows and processes to drive high customer satisfaction
- Deploys order automation workflows to optimise operations and scale order volumes at minimal cost
- Integrates order fulfilment operations with sales, service, and support workflows to boost customer experience
- Offers greater control and visibility to customers – critical factors in a customer-first environment focussed on personalisation and self-service
How an order management system streamlines vital business functions
By providing a centralised platform for managing orders, inventory, and customer information, an order management system can improve your service, sales, and marketing efforts. In fact, an effective order management system helps streamline various business functions, including operations, customer management, sales and marketing, service, and financial management. Additionally, automating key processes and providing real-time data on inventory levels and customer behaviour, can help you make data-driven decisions.
Here’s how an efficient order management system helps optimise some of these functions.
Expanding across geographies and customer bases are the top priority for Indian commerce organisations, as per Salesforce State of Commerce report. An order management system helps you efficiently scale your business across new markets and product categories by transforming the following operational functions:
1. ORDER PROCESSING
The world of digital commerce is fast-paced and always-on. With order management systems, businesses can manage everything from order confirmation and fulfilment to delivery schedules, across multiple channels. The automated system enables you to be up-to-date on dispatches, cancellations, delivery address changes, delivery schedule preferences, etc.
2. INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Inventory management is complex, especially when you have multiple inventories, or when you source on a pre-order basis to avoid blocking cash flows.
An all-in-one order management system makes things easier by tracking orders in real time across warehouses. This system can also help manage stock levels and ensure timely restocking based on shipping and sales forecasting data. When combined with end-to-end supply chain management, it helps you easily manage your inventory and stay on top of your orders.
3. FULFILMENT AND SHIPPING
Efficient order fulfilment and safe, timely shipping are critical components of any successful business, but managing them at scale can be a task. An automated, end-to-end order management system can handle several orders and offers real-time tracking to monitor shipments. This clear view of your entire supply chain, allows you to make better decisions faster, manage the supply chain more effectively, and run operations more efficiently.
For example, you can use data sourced from the order management system to identify and avoid costly mistakes in the inventory management and order fulfilment process like out-of-stocks, overstock, or incorrect or missed shipments and ensure order accuracy and timely deliveries. It also forecasts potential challenges and delays, allowing you to proactively address issues before they become major headaches.
4. RETURNS AND REFUNDS
40% of the commerce professionals in India feel that their organisations are not effective at using data for process automation. Customers expect order returns and refunds at the speed of digital order confirmations. An order management system can significantly reduce the amount of time and resources required in returns management.
For example, an order management system can automate the process of handling common customer requests, such as refund processing and tracking the status of returns. This lets customer service reps handle more requests without switching systems, in less time. Additionally, the system provides real-time updates to customers, enhancing transparency and customer satisfaction.
The end goal of any customer management function is to ensure seamless customer journeys that result in long-term relationships which drive revenue. What if we told you there is a strong connection between customer experience, customer journeys, and order management? Mapping out the customer journey helps identify key touchpoints where the order management system can be deployed to improve customer experience. Smooth and timely order management helps you exceed expectations, increase customer loyalty and drive long-term success. An integrated order management system is a powerful tool that takes into account customer order and delivery preferences, helping you better serve and understand your customers.
1. CUSTOMER ORDER TRACKING
An integrated order management system generates an order tracking ID that can be used by your customers and your own teams. The unique order tracking ID:
A. Gives customers complete visibility into order fulfilment timelines, order movement, and delivery dates.
B. Equips your team members, especially customer support teams, to quickly track orders in case of customer complaints or escalations.
2. CUSTOMER DATA MANAGEMENT
An integrated order management system gathers, sorts, and analyses data around customer purchases and deliveries. And makes this data accessible to relevant teams for enhancing customer engagement and personalised customer experiences.
For instance, the marketing team gets access to a customer database that includes information on each customer’s purchase history, demographics, and product preferences. Using this information, the team can create targeted email campaigns that feature products or promotions that are relevant to each customer’s interests. If a customer has previously purchased, say, athletic shoes, you can send an email featuring the latest models of running shoes.
At a time when 79% of customers expect offers to be personalised, the importance of effectively using customer data for contextual communication cannot be overstated.
3. CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION AND FEEDBACK
Customers use 13 channels (and counting!) to interact with companies, according to Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report. And they expect brand communication across these channels to be integrated, personalised, and contribute to enhancing their overall experience.
An order management system offers a visual dashboard for a comprehensive view of customer interactions across all channels. This allows you to access actionable insights and seamlessly meet the moment for the customer. Additionally, an order management system can help businesses identify common issues and trends in customer feedback, enabling you to make more informed decisions about product development and customer service initiatives.
Sales and marketing
Well-optimised order management accelerates growth across critical sales and marketing functions.
1. SALES ORDER MANAGEMENT
An integrated order management system generates an immediate backend order entry for every purchase. It notifies every team member involved in order processing, ensuring efficient and streamlined order fulfilment. This helps you to:
- Scale your sales order fulfilment network across multiple partners or locations for optimum quality and pricing.
- Get real-time visibility into the sales and revenue pipelines for easier sales forecasting and budgeting
- Streamline sales pipeline management using accurate data on orders and delivery in real-time
- Study emerging trends to develop agile sales strategies and ensure accurate sales forecasting.
- Improve your category management-Grow your most successful product categories, and even create new offerings for your most valuable customers.
2. CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION AND TARGETING:
A unified order management system makes it easy to develop a deeper understanding of your customers on the basis of their order history. These insights can help with more precise customer targeting across sales and marketing activities, resulting in faster sales at scale.
A typical order management system offers some filters that help optimise customer segmentation:
- Demographics: Unlike persona demographics, data of customers who have completed order confirmations are an accurate representation of your top customer demographics
- Psychographics: The links between orders placed or carts abandoned and customer interests/mindsets can help tailor future experiences
- Discounts: Customers who place maximum orders when offered discounts or special offers are crucial for targeted campaigns
3. MARKETING AUTOMATION AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT
Once an order is placed, an order management system plays the important role of connecting with the customer regarding order status, delivery updates, and product returns or exchanges. This constant engagement is facilitated by automated messaging, and it can be seamlessly integrated to marketing communication and running personalised campaigns. It keeps track of your customers’ order history, preferences, and other relevant data, which can then be used to segment your customer base into different groups.
Using these customer segments, the order management system can automatically send out targeted marketing messages via email, SMS, or other channels. These messages can include personalised product recommendations and special offers tailored to each customer’s needs and interests.
Scaling your commerce business demands highly efficient and accurate financial management without any manual lapses or errors. An automation-led order management system serves as a cost-effective solution for astute financial management that supports growth ambitions.
1. ORDER AND REVENUE TRACKING
An efficient order management system offers clear insights into the revenue earned and the revenue pipeline subject to order fulfilment. Such insights are critical for various financial projections that fuel growth and expansion strategies.
2. PAYMENT PROCESSING
The Salesforce State of Commerce report highlighted the rising popularity of new payment types. 34% of professionals said they plan to accept Apple Pay within two years, while 48% revealed that they are exploring cryptocurrency. However, you simply cannot introduce these payment types and expect high customer satisfaction if there are glitches in integrating your payment processing application with the rest of your order management system. An efficient order management system ensures seamless data flow between a partner payment processing application and your platform. As a result, there are fewer glitches in payments, reducing the risk of customer frustration or disappointment.
3. ACCOUNTING AND BOOKKEEPING
Accurate bookkeeping is especially challenging in a digital, multichannel selling environment. You need to keep track of refunds, manage currencies, avoid data duplication, and keep pace with high volume order entries as you scale. You can do away with all these challenges and reduce the cost of accounting operations when you invest in an integrated, automation-led order management system. An order management system updates your accounts in real time on the basis of revenue generation across channels and currencies.
Considering that an order management system can play a significant role across all your business functions, how do you select an order management system that works for your business? There are several factors that you should consider when selecting an order management system to ensure you choose a solution that meets your unique needs.
Factors to consider when choosing an order management system
Only 56% of commerce professionals feel that their organisations are effectively using data to connect commerce with other areas of business.
When looking for the right order management system to invest in, it is important to consider the technology behind it. Is the solution compatible with existing commerce platforms? And does it easily integrate with your CRM solution? These are some of the questions that need to be answered. The system should also offer high scalability; having to invest in yet another solution can slow down your operations during a growth phase.
1. PLATFORMS AND INTEGRATION
An order management solution that is part of an all-in-one commerce solution is key to ensuring seamless compatibility with your commerce management platforms. CRM integration with your order management system and using headless commerce can help you create enriching customer experiences across different channels and streamline your back-end operations.
An order management system within an all-in-one commerce solution promises
- Unified, familiar workflows for high team productivity
- Integration at increased speed, so you can scale when you want
- Access to experts for seamless integration
- No disruption risk to existing commerce workflows and platforms
2. DATA MANAGEMENT AND ANALYTICS
An effective order management system must have robust data management and reporting and analytics capabilities. This provides businesses with a comprehensive view of their operations, inventory, and customer behaviour. This should include real-time access to sales data, inventory levels, shipping information, and customer purchase history.
Additionally, advanced analytics capabilities on a single interface can help businesses identify trends and patterns in customer behaviour, allowing them to optimise their marketing and sales efforts for maximum impact.
3. SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE
Ensuring the highest level of data security is critical to customer loyalty in a trust-based market like India. Hence, an ideal order management system is the one that offers:
- A highly secure data ecosystem
- Authorised user access to minimise threat entry points
- Continuous security upgrades that also support higher data volumes
- Compliance with global security standards
In an increasingly competitive commerce environment, your team members have little time to struggle with an ill-designed or complex order management system. The success of an order management system also depends on user adoption. Therefore, prioritising solutions that support an intuitive employee experience is crucial. It is equally essential to consider the ease of use for customers when choosing such a system.
1. USER INTERFACE AND NAVIGATION
Your order management system should offer an interface and navigation that enhances user productivity and customer confidence.
Choose an order management system that offers:
- Low-code, drag-and-drop functionality: To keep up with your business’s growth, your team needs agile order management workflows. That’s why you need software that makes it easy to create and update workflows with drag-and-drop tools, improving your team’s productivity and saving time.
- Visual insights: Order management systems generate an enormous amount of data; it is crucial that you are able to easily make sense of relevant data through visual reporting and analytics
- High familiarity: Customers and team members should be able to intuitively find the information they seek. So, your order management system should have a heuristic UX design and familiarity for high user satisfaction.
A heuristic UX design is an approach to designing user interfaces that focuses on creating a user-friendly experience based on a set of heuristics or best practices. This approach is based on the idea that users are more likely to engage with a system or product if it is intuitive and easy to use.
2. USER PERMISSIONS AND ACCESS CONTROL
A secure order management system offers optimal data access and workflow control to users. It ensures data safety without restricting ease of use. An order management system that lets you update user permissions and access control in a flexible manner is key to aligning your workflows for scale.
3. CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE AND SUPPORT
Customers want to feel in control of their shipments, similar to their online shopping experience. That makes them more likely to make repeat purchases from brands that offer:
- Optimal and immediate order updates
- Convenient order tracking experiences
An end-to-end order management system integrated with CRM and chatbot capabilities enhances user experience. It lets you offer prompt and round-the-clock customer support across channels such as website, app, email, phone, social media, and WhatsApp.
Such a system also offers proactive real-time order visibility. When customers can access their order status updates at the click of a button, it goes a long way in winning customer trust.
Analytics and reporting
Automation and advanced analytical tools are vital to effectively analyse the varying volumes and speeds of multichannel selling.
1. SALES PERFORMANCE METRICS AND KPIS
Choose an order management system that provides your marketing, sales, and product strategies with accurate KPIs. More importantly, the system must paint a clear picture of sales performance metrics and connect it to the work done by each team or department. Relevant users must be able to access and understand the alignment of order volumes, top categories, average order prices, etc. with every team’s KPIs and the overall business targets.
2. DATA VISUALISATION AND DASHBOARD
In an always-on-commerce environment, your teams do not have the bandwidth to go through cumbersome data spreadsheets or multiple report interfaces. A unified dashboard with simplified data visualisation can help your team members understand order-defined patterns within minutes; and make swift, informed decisions that translate into improved CX and growth.
3. SALES REPORTING AND DATA EXPORTATION
Your order management system should export sales data into a unified stream. This lets all teams align with common sales targets while meeting their individual team KPIs. For example, suppose a WhatsApp campaign about a new product launch translates into record orders. This data should be immediately available to not just the marketing or sales teams, but also your finance and procurement teams. It allows them to immediately strategise for the next product launch.
Optimise order management: Move faster at lower cost with Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Growing revenue and expanding the customer base are the top priorities for businesses in today’s commerce environment. However, you need to balance it with a decentralised purchasing environment where tech-savvy buyers demand flexibility and swift, easily customised experiences.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a comprehensive and flexible B2C and B2B order management solution that can help organisations of all sizes effectively manage their order processing and fulfilment needs. The platform is designed to provide businesses with real-time visibility into their orders, inventory, and customer data, enabling them to optimise their operations and enhance the customer experience. The customer-first solution offers a range of features such as
- Easy integration with your CRM
- Flexible, omnichannel order management worldwide
- Visual workflows
- Virtual order fulfilment journeys
- Self-service features for customers
- Distributed order management to optimise processes
- Localised support for languages, tax formatting, currencies, etc.
Maximise your order management capabilities with an all-in one commerce platform
Learn more about Salesforce’s Order Management System.