Order management is the administration of business processes related to orders for goods or services. Order management is the order-to-cash sales process that sits at the heart of any goods-based B2C and B2B company. Put simply, it’s the end-to-end cycle of receiving and processing a customer order through to fulfillment.
Order management is not conducted in isolation; it relies upon almost every department in a company: from a customer service team to the warehouse staff, the accounting department through to delivery partners. When mastered effectively, order management ensures a business’s workflow runs smoothly by establishing efficient processes to keep it moving forward; maintaining customer satisfaction and protecting a company’s reputation.
Order management involves a series of interconnected touchpoints and stakeholders who work collaboratively together to enable customers to order the right products, for the right price and receive them at the right time. The order fulfillment system (as it is also known) not only secures that order-to-cash (O2C) processes run smoothly, but also gives businesses the opportunity to build customer profiles and keep track of inventory volume and sales records.
When scaling your business, it’s important to automate and streamline this process — otherwise, you’ll eventually be overwhelmed by the sheer number of orders coming in. An ordering system gives you a one-stop shop to view and manage all customer orders in one place.
Some systems offer a two-way sync that makes sure order information is passed between your order management system and your ecommerce platform while providing you with visibility into the entire process. This can help automate the flow of sales order information to every piece of the supply chain. That means you can track the entire journey of a customer order, from the “Buy” button to delivery — and even returns.
Order processing is the process or work flow from order placement to delivery. This is a key element of order fulfillment, where reliability and accuracy lead to customer satisfaction. Steps in order processing include picking, sorting, tracking and shipping. Order processing can range from manual (hand written on an order log sheet) to highly technological and data driven (through online orders and order processing software) depending on the operation.
In order to establish a fast-moving, cost-effective and accurate order management cycle, both B2C and B2B companies are choosing to use an integrated and responsive order management system (OMS). The OMS integrates directly with a business’s ERP and is set up to work alongside the human workforce in order to obtain the most productive and profitable order management cycle possible.
An integrated order management system may encompass these modules:
- Product information (descriptions, attributes, locations, quantities)
- Inventory available to promise (ATP) and sourcing
- Vendors, purchasing, and receiving
- Marketing (catalogs, promotions, pricing)
- Customers and prospects
- Order entry and customer service (including returns and refunds)
- Financial processing (credit cards, billing, payment on account)
- Order processing (selection, printing, picking, packing, shipping)
F.A.Q about Order Management
What is OMS software?
An order management system is a software system that facilitates and manages the execution of trade orders. An order management system is any tool or platform that tracks sales, orders, inventory, and fulfillment as well as enables the people, processes, and partnerships necessary for products to find their way to the customers who bought them.
An order processing system software should provide one centralized place to manage orders from all sales channels. Centralizing this in one system is critical to delivering a superior customer experience by providing order status, on-time deliveries and meeting customer expectations for buy, fulfill and return anywhere.
The right solution gives you a foundation for consistent and seamless execution across all customer, financial, inventory and supply chain touch points that drives customer satisfaction, repeat business and long-term loyalty. Additionally, order management systems can improve sales visibility and reduce delays and back orders by giving you a single view of demand, inventory and supply.
An effective order management system software lets you seamlessly orchestrate the fulfillment of products and services across virtually all your customer touch points. Without a centralized order management system, realizing a comprehensive view of demand, transactions and customers across all channels and fulfillment locations can be extremely difficult.
Order management software equips you to think beyond the inventory on hand to focus on what's available to promise to your customers. It eliminates costly and rigid inventory segmentation across channels and business units with a single, real-time, consolidated view of inventory across the enterprise, from your suppliers and manufacturing facilities to your warehouse and stores.
How to choose the right OMS software?
- Define your system objectives and priorities of each. By doing so and discussing with your internal stakeholders, you’ll clearly understand features that are “absolute requirements” vs. ones that are “nice to have.” Don’t forget to factor in scalability and future thinking.
- Draft a request for proposal (RFP). This will help your team get organized and both you and the vendor(s) understand the technical requirements and limitations of the system you’re hoping to implement. Don’t forget to include order volumes, number of SKUs, current vendor landscape, existing software, hardware, and networks, a timeline for the systems acquisition process, and details on training & enablement.
- Research systems options. It’s unlikely that you’ll find an ideal fit for your business with your first contact (but how amazing would that be), so compile a list of 4-6 vendors to evaluate and reach out to for demos or trails.
- Review trade-offs. It’s unlikely you’ll find a vendor that is a 100% fit and your final selection will be based on a number of trade-off criteria. Feature & function alone shouldn’t be your sole selection criteria as you’ll want to take into account the entirety of the business relationship you’re getting into.
How do your customers benefit from an online order management system?
An online ordering software doesn’t just benefit you, though. It also benefits your customers. The system will give them a quick, convenient, and 24/7 way to place orders without having to call or email your staff, or fill out old-fashioned Excel or Word order forms. They'll have instant, online updates on the status of their orders, and they’ll have greater confidence that their orders will arrive on-time and with the correct items. An online order management system also makes your company look more professional in the eyes of your customers.Here are three ways they benefit:
- They can place orders on their schedule. Between managing employees, servicing customers, and marketing their business, most business owners are working on a very tight schedule. Taking the time to call or email your sales staff or meet with a sales rep can be challenging. Using an online product ordering system that allows customers to log on at their convenience and quickly choose the items they want to order goes a long way for customer service. If they place the same order on a regular basis, they can use a reorder feature which duplicates previous orders. The whole process takes a matter of seconds. So alleviate this challenge by implementing a system that allows your customers to place an order anytime.
- They can check their order status at any time. One of the biggest challenges a business faces is managing their inventory. On one hand, they want to have enough inventory available to service their customers. On the other hand, they don’t want to have inventory piling up on their shelves. There’s a critical need to know with confidence when inventory will arrive.
- They have a higher probability of receiving the correct order in a timely manner. Nothing will erode your customers' trust more than making errors on their shipments and invoices. If it happens once, that may be forgiven as a simple mistake. However, if it happens repeatedly, your customer is likely to start looking for alternative options. An online order management system with warehouse integration can send the order directly to your third party warehouse. This reduces the probability that an error will be made. The less people who handle the order information, the lower the likelihood for human error.