Buying and paying for anything, anywhere – that’s the biggest challenge that omni-channel retailers see themselves facing.
There was once a time when your only concern was to ensure that there were sufficient products stored for stocking up the shops, but today completing a purchase has become the most complex aspect. There are many different channels and fulfillment scenarios to cover, and a good order management system can create that much-needed order out of the chaos.
Customers want to have exactly the same experience every time, whether online or offline and anywhere and everywhere. They expect to receive useful product information, near real-time availability, and the option of viewing their order status. That’s an almost impossible task if the backend processes for customer interaction and sales are not linked to an order management system (OMS). Here are six excellent reasons why an OMS is guaranteed to improve the customer experience.
1. Effectively managing different distribution centers
The products you sell in shops and online can be spread among a number of distribution centers. Many companies employ what is known as a silo approach – a storage area for their own shops, a distribution center for resellers, one for online orders, and so on. A good OMS allows you to see exactly what is located where. The article you’re looking for may be out of stock at the online store warehouse, but it could still be available in the stockroom of a shop close to the prospective buyer. Or maybe the shop has run out, but it can be found in the distribution center devoted to resellers. This means you don’t have to reject customers or be stuck with stock simply because it might not be selling like hotcakes online but is ticking over nicely in the brick and mortar shop. Moreover, customers love the fact that instead of missing out they are offered an alternative solution. An OMS allows you to effectively manage your inventory and satisfy customer demands.
2. Real-time availability
An OMS also offers transparency in terms of availability. The system not only records the products that are in stock, it also registers the articles that are in a shopping trolley or reserved for a customer. This means that you have a current picture of what can or must still be sold, while customers don’t receive an unpleasant shock when they check-out if the item they purchased suddenly turns out not to be immediately available.
3. Customer history at a glance
Another major benefit of an OMS is that you have an overview of all past orders for each channel, enabling the customer experience to be a seamless one. Because all past orders and customer details are located on the OMS, the customer is able to order a product online and pick it up in the store, or if they’re not happy with a product from the store, they can return it online. The OMS lists all the customer interactions so that complex processes such as these can be easily standardized. Another advantage is that it becomes much easier to maintain contact with customers regarding orders, as you can see the exact history of an order on the OMS.
4. Marketing data
The fact that the OMS collects and aggregates all the customer information and sends it through analytics tools also makes it a brilliant tool for marketing. It allows you to be much more targeted when approaching the customer.
The omni-channel approach means drastic changes for your internal systems and processes. Because the customer journey is no longer a linear one but can rather twist and turn in numerous directions, analytics, ERP, CRM, and all the other processes must be connected. Your OMS can link order flow and order information to the underlying back office systems, keeping everything centrally managed and allowing you to anticipate changes. Let’s say you decide to introduce internet-of-things apps or tackle the world of m-commerce. If you had to reconfigure the internal system each time you added another channel or partner you’d waste a lot of time and unnecessarily delay the go-to-market strategy. That’s where an OMS can save the day.
6. Standardization and decreased costs
It is a reality that systems that focus on internal processes, such as ERP, tend to be highly inflexible. The OMS ensures that despite this fact the customer journey is frictionless and easy, and also cost-efficient as the work processes are now standardized. And this not only pertains to the stock-management side, it covers invoicing and payments too. The OMS gives the customer relevant information and allows them to introduce changes at any time – a self-service option that works through shipping partners and the online store constantly feeding information to the OMS.
Customer case: INDI
INDI, a Dutch supplier of technical and industrial components, uses Intershop’s order management solution, which supports the web shop’s large catalog and transaction volumes and enables customers to see product availability in real time. It helps INDI manage the complex order orchestration, invoice to cash and return management processes, and allows B2B and B2C customers to access a range of fulfillment options, self-service functions, and after-sales services. In addition, Intershop’s Order Management solution improves INDI’s business agility, enabling the company to attract new suppliers and fulfillment partners much faster.
And that’s why you need an OMS
An OMS allows the customer to place orders through any channel desired as well as to access after-sales and self-service options. The system keeps stock for all the sales channels and links them together, while also making the operating process more efficient and thus lowering the operational costs. In short, if you want to properly manage the complexities of an onmichannel system, you will gain a great deal from a good order management system.