Partner Voices: How an Order Management System Impacts Customer Loyalty
Today's consumers are demanding. They're no longer willing to wait three to five days for their online order to be delivered. They want it right away, whether that means having it delivered to their doorstep same-day or picking it up from the retailer’s closest store location. The retailers that can't meet this demand will simply be passed over for those that can. Consumers have plenty of options, particularly online, and they won’t settle for a sub-par experience.
Therefore, retailers need to implement intelligent fulfillment systems to compete in this competitive omnichannel environment. That means being able to streamline the order management process; obtain a single view of orders and inventory across the entire fulfillment network, including brick-and-mortar stores; enable customers to order AND receive from the channels that are most convenient to them; and provide real-time tracking of order status.
Sounds difficult, right? It doesn’t have to be—if you have the right solution.
Breaking Down Barriers
The first step for retailers in their quest for omnichannel order management is to eliminate the notion of siloed channels from their organizational thinking. Consumers don’t view a retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores, webstore, mobile app, etc. as separate shopping channels; they’re one in the same to consumers. In fact, consumers likely have no idea what the term “omnichannel” even means. They just expect every time they interact with a brand for it to be a unified experience. What that means for retailers on the back-end is a single pool of inventory, with orders processed through one solution rather than disparate systems. Otherwise, omnichannel fulfillment isn’t possible.
Giving customers the option to buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS); buy a product in-store and have it shipped to their home; and return products bought online to a store (and vice versa) are now table stakes for retailers. Of course, just offering these types of services isn’t enough; your execution needs to be seamless as well. For example, there’s no quicker way to lose a customer than to have him buy a product online and show up to your store to pick it up, only to find that the product is out of stock. An order management system is the tool that enables retailers to provide this type of seamless cross-channel fulfillment that customers now demand.
3 Functions of Omnichannel Order Management
With clear consumer demand for omnichannel fulfillment, it’s incumbent upon retailers to find an order management system that can enable such services. At its core, an order management system needs to perform the following three functions:
- Connect cross-chain demand to chainwide supply (i.e., accurately presenting inventory across channels in near real time).
- Intelligently route orders to the best supply source based on pre-defined criteria (e.g., profitability, proximity to shipping destination, inventory level) that can be modified in real-time to optimize profitability for every order.
- Provide the ability to easily and cost effectively scale and customize order management based on a number of variables, including seasonality, weather, and inventory demand, among others.
With the right order management system in place—and the staff to execute upon it—a domino effect can start to take place. Orders are routed, fulfilled, and delivered in the manner that’s most convenient for the customer, which leads to a better customer experience.
What’s at Stake
The simple answer: customer loyalty. Today’s consumers demand that the retailers they purchase from provide choice, service, and delivery in the manner most convenient for them. It has become too easy for them to go elsewhere if they don’t receive the shopping experience they desire.
In addition to customer acquisition and retention concerns, not having a flexible order management system can lead to costly overstocks and out-of-stocks, an unprofitable supply chain, a higher susceptibility to fraudulent orders, and a stagnation in the growth of the business.
The right order management system can help traditional brick-and-mortar retailers better compete against their online-only counterparts by enabling them to leverage their biggest, most costly assets — stores and inventory. Physical stores don’t have to be a cost of doing business; they can be turned into profit centers through omnichannel fulfillment and inventory transparency. And this can be done quickly and scaled to meet fluctuating demand (e.g., during the holidays).
To find the right order management system for your business, you first need to take stock of your current system, identify what’s missing to be able offer omnichannel fulfillment, and then assemble a cross-functional executive team (eCommerce, store operations, supply chain) to make a decision.
The ideal solution will balance flexibility, modularity, time to market, and ongoing cost of ownership with scale, as well as the right feature set and road map specifically focused on driving omnichannel retail success.
The loyalty of your existing customers as well as potential new customers depends on a number of factors, but chief among them is delivering a seamless experience. An order management system that offers a streamlined purchase-to-delivery process, a single view of inventory and orders across the entire fulfillment network, and the ability for customers to order and receive (as well as return) from the channels that are most convenient to them will help your business deliver on that promise and win their loyalty.