Offering your customers a plethora of options for purchasing your products should always be a priority—but it’s even more relevant today. With the popularity of ecommerce continuing to skyrocket (ecommerce is expected to grow 32% year-over-year in 2020) and the increase of trends like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), a comprehensive omnichannel fulfillment strategy is imperative for business success. A successful omnichannel fulfillment strategy also requires having the appropriate systems in place to allow you to pick, pack, ship and deliver products to customers’ homes and major retailers, offer a BOPIS option, and make returns easy for customers. If you don’t have a good order management system in place, the conversion can be difficult, but we’ve put together some of the best tips and tricks to help you and your team seamlessly transition to omnichannel fulfillment.
How to select an order management system
An order management system (OMS) is very important when adopting a full omnichannel solution for your business. Its implementation will allow you to manage all types of shipping, inventory, returns and more, and identify and fix inefficiencies. However, selecting and implementing the right OMS is a long process. Here’s how to make it manageable.
An order management system (OMS) is very important when adopting a full omnichannel solution for your business. Its implementation will allow you to manage all types of shipping, inventory, returns and more, and identify and fix inefficiencies.
Create a new position to manage the OMS
An OMS should be used by many of your employees, like customer service representatives and warehouse supervisors, to make their jobs easier and make procedures smoother and more effective. However, having someone who is in charge of managing the OMS is absolutely necessary. This will ensure that the OMS is being used in all of its capabilities to make your business more effective, and it will allow the business to continue running smoothly while you scale operations or ramp up during peak season. You can create a new position such as a VP of Ecommerce to handle logistics, data and the overall use of your new omnichannel OMS.
Revamp and restructure omnichannel reporting
It’s no secret that accurate reporting is key in business success, but with omnichannel operations, the data can get complicated and standard reporting just isn’t enough. Adding business intelligence to your reporting methods will ensure key decision-makers have visibility to all the data and are able to translate it into actionable business decisions. Implementing an OMS that provides more comprehensive data is a great place to start, but make sure you have employees who know how to translate the data into digestible bites for the rest of the decision-makers to understand.
Streamline reverse logistics
Reverse logistics and returns can quickly bog down an OMS if there isn’t a clear process in place for ecommerce returns. However, since flexible returns are extremely important in omnichannel fulfillment, it’s vital that you utilize the reverse order fulfillment features of an OMS to create an effective set of return options for every fulfillment channel. You can give your customers the option to print shipping labels and return products by mail or make their return in a brick and mortar store. The way you handle returns is very important for customer satisfaction, and if done correctly, can even strengthen the relationship with your customers. Make sure you have an OMS that allows you to have a great returns policy. Be sure to check out our article on how to increase customer loyalty with a great returns process for more information.
The way you handle returns is very important for customer satisfaction, and if done correctly, can even strengthen the relationship with your customers.
Invest in educating your team on the new OMS
The education component of implementing a new OMS is critical to whether the system is used to its full potential. Even if your employees aren’t using the OMS directly, they might be updating information in the system on a daily basis so it’s very important that you educate them on the new solution. Make sure you explain the importance of adopting an omnichannel OMS to your employees, how it will support operations, how it will help employees accomplish their tasks and any changes to procedures and processes. When employees don’t understand new systems or how they are supposed to help with their jobs, they won’t be fully committed, so take this opportunity to make sure they understand how it can make them more effective in their day-to-day work.
Get your distribution and fulfillment operation ready
Once you have all the above tools ready to go, they need to be fully integrated with a robust warehouse management system and execution team! Some important features include cartonization (don’t make a box selection a manual process) or rate shopping. The systems need to have the ability to manage several workflows within the DC – your custom pack outs, your standard orders, your gift wraps, and more. Your system should also automatically print any special pack list required by different marketplaces or channels. You need to ensure you have proper live inventory visibility across all channels. In addition to all this, you need to look over your distribution center design and the physical flow of goods in the DC. You need an efficient, fast fulfillment process for your e-comm orders. Speed matters much more for ecommerce orders, whereas on store or DC orders, you have a few day PO window. Make sure you fully understand how your DC manages these flows and meets its unique KPIs.
Make the switch to omnichannel!
An OMS that is designed for multiple channels can make a huge difference for retail and ecommerce businesses with multiple shopping options, but implementation can clearly be a challenge. It requires the buy-in of multiple stakeholders and can cause changes in processes and procedures that employees are used to. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the right OMS can make things easier for you by providing business intelligence reporting and tools. If you select the proper OMS and train your employees on it, you will see great success when adopting omnichannel fulfillment.