Nothing is more exciting in the world of e-commerce than the moment when customers really discover your business and start placing orders. However, that excitement can quickly turn to panic, stress and even dread if your popularity grows out of control. It’s simple enough to manage your orders and inventory when you are only moving a few products a week. Imagine waking up to find 10,000 orders all waiting for prompt and correct fulfillment. Serious e-commerce businesses need order management systems that are strong and flexible enough to meet their needs without failing at a critical moment.
What Are Order Management Systems?
Nearly every business that deals with customer orders has some kind of management system. Even the smallest businesses develop some kind of protocol for handling orders. A work-at-home mom selling fudge might keep notes on her orders on her refrigerator or in a spreadsheet on her laptop. Big companies need complete programs that track the progress of each order as it is received, processed, filled and fulfilled. Software designers have been working for decades to create programs that manage huge databases and automate much of the work behind order management. Many solutions include management for every part of the process, beginning with inventory management at the vendor level and progressing through marketing, sales and fulfillment.
With dozens of order management systems available that are tailored to e-commerce businesses, it can be tricky to pick the right one. Consider your needs when shopping around. Most e-commerce companies use multiple platforms to reach a wider consumer base. Importantly, e-Commerce Insiders recommend finding a system that can integrate data from all of your sales platforms in one convenient package. You can save hours of hard work and eliminate a lot of customer frustration this way. Streamlined order systems allow you to process and ship quickly, making your customers happy and ready to recommend you to others.
Don’t overlook integration with your vendors or shippers, warns the e-Commerce Best Practices blog. If you are using a drop shipping team, your order management system will need to sync up and automate the forwarding process with each member. High levels of automation allow customers to place orders and have their items shipped with minimal input from you. This frees up your time for marketing, hands-on customer service or searching out new deals. The best e-commerce management systems will send out notifications at every step to keep customers in the loop.
Does It Scale?
An affordable and basic order management system will work for small e-commerce businesses but could quickly fail if a sudden spike in interest occurs overnight. The viral nature of the Internet makes this a very real possibility. Invest in a system that is scalable to ensure you won’t be struggling with days of back orders and lost information if a major blog should suddenly promote your business. Many systems come with various package options to help you fit your budget and needs without limiting you as your company grows. Pick a system that will allow you to upgrade at any time with no need for a complete overhaul. If you are struggling to manually fulfill any part of the order process, take some time to find an order management system that fits your business model. You can find packages that are tailored for service providers, wholesale drop shippers or even securities trading. Investing in the right system will save time, reduce the workload and eliminate many of the issues that make customers unhappy.
About The Author
Ted Hosford has extensive experience consulting businesses on their software needs. His articles mainly appear on business software blogs. Visit Ordoro.com for more details.