Order Management Guide for Online Businesses

an order of pink glasses and an orange bag

To build a profitable, sustainable, and scalable eCommerce business, you need to understand everything about management, be it the order, product, customer, or staff. There are many things to think about when it comes to ordering management. Notably, a minimal mistake would possibly cost you a fortune. That’s why a workable approach is important to run your store. What is eCommerce order management? Order management entails keeping track of all orders that come to your business and managing the processes you need to fulfill them. It covers everything from order placement to delivery. It also includes after-sales experience and dealing with any issue on returning the products. Steps of eCommerce order management process An order management process can be explained by the product lifecycle. Above all, its essence is to satisfy the customers’ needs and generate sales.   Discovery The process begins before the customer decides to place an order. The management system should allow for real-time inventory changes when a customer places an item in the shopping cart. Once the item is included or abandoned, the system will send a notification so that your staff knows what is going on.  Order placement Once the customer decides to buy the product, the platform communicates with the back-office system to ascertain credit card payment before processing it. Once the order is approved, the next step is to fulfill the order. Order fulfillment  Here, depending on the details of the order, the system will optimize warehouse selection. Furthermore, it will automatically calculate the shipping costs and propose available shipping carriers your customer can choose from. Warehouse Management  Once a particular product is out of stock, the order management system can communicate with your suppliers and vendors to send the item. However, you can avoid issues like out-of-stock orders when your system is automatically configured. Shipping Once the warehouse picks, packs, and ships the item, the system will send a message to the customer, notifying them their order has been shipped. Furthermore, the information will include the order details and shipping address. Returns and refunds Peradventure a customer isn’t satisfied with a particular item, he can return it and get the money back. The order management system now communicates the refund request to the back-off system to begin the process. Additionally, it connects to the provider to ensure every data corresponds with the customers’ information before processing the request. Improve management with automation Order management is a complicated process. It is not easy to keep track of multiple orders all at once. Therefore, businesses are implementing automation platforms to help them deal with this issue.  One typical application of the automation app in managing orders is to send an internal and external notification as soon as the order status is changed. This way, both retailers and customers are aware of the changes without further verbal communication.  Key features of effective order management To increase eCommerce businesses, brands are looking for management systems that support their previous infrastructure. However, the number of platforms available might be confusing for anyone. Here are a few features of an order management system. It eradicates the manual system of doing things It provides a global system Reports and predict stocks needs Works on all channel Integrates on all company system  

Small Business Automation Tips in 2021

A woman smilling to have business automation

COVID-19, despite all of its detrimental impacts, has signaled a positive trend within the eCommerce market with the witnessed growth of 4 to 6 years ahead of its time. The eternal quarantine has demanded small and medium enterprises (SME) to scale up their business to meet the increasing needs of customers who are unable to go to physical stores. As a result, store owners have to keep an eye on multiple tasks at the same time to keep the business afloat. Considering the social distancing restriction and the limited resources, it feels impossible for SMEs to streamline operations and increase efficiency. However, there’s an answer to it, that is automation. So what is eCommerce automation? In short, automation is the process of converting your daily manual tasks within your eCommerce small business into automated work. Source: Shopify During Black Friday sales 2018, Shopify recorded $123.73 billion sales with a 2-billion pre-scheduled thanks to eCommerce automation. Astonishingly, one store even sold out their most popular items in 2 minutes. Automation has become an emerging trend in the eCommerce market. For any small business, automation can be a game-changer. In a small business, a small number of employees often take over a huge amount of workload. During high seasons, a marketing executive might be in charge of contacting logistics partners, while an accountant might as well take responsibility for fulfilling packaging. Besides causing fatigue and inefficiency, it takes up time for more important tasks. This is where automation comes to the rescue. With automated applications installed in your platform, you can save up time and resources on repetitive tasks to come up with ambitious strategies that may entirely transform your business. Let’s look into the 2 most important aspects of business where automation proves efficiency. 1. Inventory & Order Management Why do you need automation? The operation management involves the process of inventory and order management as well as fulfillment and delivery to customers. A small business can often get away easily with simple manual steps because there’s not a high volume of orders yet. However, as the business grows, these repeated tasks become massive and might cost the organization the time needed to optimize the revenue. After having all your products in order, delivering to the customers is another challenge. As people shift to online shopping, your customers can come from any corner of the world. With such large-scale order, a disruption in the supply chain would not only cost you revenue loss but also decreased credibility in your brand. Therefore, small store owners always have to pay attention to the logistics, fulfillment or inventory list, be it the package placement in the warehouse or the delivery status. Although being small routine tasks, it shouldn’t be anyone’s concern all the time. Thus having an automation app would be an efficient means for small business to get the work done. Ways to automate your inventory and order management Product inventory management is the first go-to An automated inventory management system allows store owners to add, edit, delete and transfer their inventory in real-time. This keeps you away from human error while updating a lot of data in a spreadsheet every day. Some software like Atom8 also provides you with real-time reports of how much inventory your suppliers have and how much you are distributing across channels. This enables small and medium entrepreneurs to make smarter decisions about their business. Beware of out-of-stock items Being a small business, it is likely that you have to spend the whole day scanning the inventory list to identify low-stock items and reordering supply on your own. By employing automated software, you can rather set up a process on your platform’s Inventory Head to send an alert when your stocks hit a certain threshold. Shopify offers a centralized inventory system that allows inventory tracking, history viewing, and count adjustments. This helps prevent customers from feeling disappointed when they can’t bag the product they’re interested in. It also allows them to get notifications when it’s back in stock. It never hurts to keep track of the delivery status Your small business can rely on technology to conduct the procedure from placing a new order to getting it delivered. Many platforms have integrated with fulfillment services like ShipStation or Vend, allowing them to track the order as soon as it is placed. The company therefore can get real-time insight into the order status and delivery record. Having such a streamlined shipping system allows you to cater to a larger volume within a lesser time, thus fostering the business revenue. 2. Marketing Management & Customer Service Why do you need automation? Email marketing and social media platforms are among the best ways to communicate with your customers and build up a strong relationship with them. Research has shown that omnichannel marketing automation can produce 250% higher purchase and engagement rates than single-channel strategy. SMEs often get into trouble cross-referencing and pooling data together because of mundane sources of information. In addition, customer service is an indispensable part of sustaining your business. 54% of customers are likely to purchase more products from a brand after receiving positive customer support. However, this has never been a simple task. Higher business growth means more customers. Good customer service requires active communication across multiple channels. Therefore you probably need to have sufficient human force available anytime to respond to your customers. If you’re dealing with hundreds of messages a day, you may end up missing out on some requests. By the time you get back to your customer, they have already switched to other brands. How to avoid these? You can start by setting up a workflow that integrates your favorite marketing and customer support apps and automates a part of your work. Optimize data processing is the first-and-foremost step Let us begin with the most tedious part of uploading the customer data. Many business owners don’t really know what information they need from their customers. Here are some of the most used

eCommerce Order Fulfillment Challenges and Best Practices

A man using automation in fulfillment management

For online merchants, acquiring a customer is not yet the end. It’s just the beginning of the broader supply chain process: eCommerce Order Fulfillment. There are many moving pieces of the fulfillment workflow for an order to end up at the customer’s doorstep – including receiving inventory, warehousing products, picking and packing items, and shipping orders. Let’s take a look at the overall steps involved in order fulfillment: Receiving: Merchants receive orders that are already placed by customers Warehousing: Proper inventory storage gives merchants visibility into what is available to ship to customers. Order processing: Ordered items are picked from the warehouse and packed to ship. Shipping: The carrier picks up orders from the fulfillment center while customers receive shipment notification and tracking info. Returns processing: Exchange or refund initiated by customers due to items’ quality or malfunction. Which Order Fulfillment method to use? 1. In-house fulfillment In-house order fulfillment is when a business handles all parts of the eCommerce order fulfillment process on its own. This model is the easiest fulfillment framework to get off the ground. It offers you total control over getting products to the customer, so long as the order volume is manageable. The entire process can be quite cumbersome as it takes merchants lots of time to manage a warehouse, picking and packing orders, and ultimately, shipping the items to customers. For those just starting a business with a tight budget, fulfilling in-house can be a good option. But when the business expands, it probably makes more sense to outsource the process and pay an eCommerce order fulfillment expert to handle everything. Therefore, a merchant’s time can be better spent on other matters such as acquiring more customers or developing new marketing strategies. 2. Dropshipping Dropshipping means that the merchant never holds the products they sell. Instead, the products are shipped from the manufacturer directly to the end customers without the business ever storing the product itself. In a way, dropshipping is the anti-inventory and affordable eCommerce order fulfillment method. Merchants will not have to worry about paying rent or storage, no excess stock, no storage fees as well as risks related to product quality due to storage such as mold, spoiled or fire. The convenience of a hands-off product fulfillment experience thereby enables businesses to focus on other priorities, which is especially advantageous to new companies. Dropshipping can pose an advantage to businesses that don’t have their own storage space. But because you’re not managing your deliveries yourself, communication with the shipping party is critical to delivering products on time and keeping customers happy. 3. Hybrid fulfillment This is the combination of in-house fulfillment and dropshipping methods. A company may process some orders in-house and at the same time outsource some of their sales to a dropshipping service provider. Some companies choose to use dropshipping for items that are infrequently purchased or those that they don’t want to store in-house, such as large or expensive items. This is ideal for regional brands that are expanding their presence to reach a wider number of customers with faster shipping options. Challenges of Order Fulfillment 1. Inventory management As your business grows, it will inevitably become harder to manage inventory – especially if you’re an eCommerce merchant, whose customers expect to see a product’s availability and status at every point in the buying process. Therefore, running out of stock is a one-way ticket to a sales disaster as it deters customers from shopping with you. Companies that succeed in maintaining optimal inventory levels won’t have to worry about losing customers to their competitors due to stockouts. 2. Logistics dysfunctions The right things should be in the right place at the right time. Or else, you risk late, broken, or missing packages, which can hurt your reputation and sales even more than not generating the sale. The shipping process is just as important as the sale itself. Another challenge to make a smooth eCommerce order fulfillment process is to ensure the shipping method, speed, and product quality. 3. Customs restrictions The local merchants may not be familiar with customs selling processes and shipping overseas restrictions. Help yourself clear the issue with documents or declarations that involve costume restrictions. It is essential that you get a picture of the whole process before selling out your first international order. Best practices for Order Fulfillment 1. Decide what best suits your business The best eCommerce order fulfillment model, whether it’s in-house or dropshipping, should be flexible enough to handle the order volumes without unnecessary delays. 2. Be transparent With better supply chain visibility, merchants can set clear expectations with customers about deliveries. Let your customers know the actual delivery date or any anticipated delays as well as returns processes. Detailed information makes up secured and satisfied customers. 3. Use the right tools  A smooth eCommerce order fulfillment closely relates to product availability. Of course, maintaining an ideal storage level requires insightful control and precision in every stage of the supply chain. But what if there is any deviation from your smooth logistics process or unexpected spikes in demand? Luckily, there are numerous tools that integrate with an eCommerce website and help you monitor stockout situations. You’ll thank yourself later for finding and implementing the tools that will make your fulfillment process run smoother. Your easy-win solution for out-of-stock With no doubt, stockout causes serious consequences: your regret at out-of-stock revenue and the dissatisfaction of customers – but with the BackOrder application, it is preventable. The app’s core value is that it allows customers to make purchases even when out of stock or before stock arrives. This utmost functionality is what drop shippers and Bigcommerce merchants really need. With the full-featured design for easily managing stock, the BackOrder app allows merchants to keep track of every detail regarding product inventory and customize their storefront. You can perform regular inventory audits, review inventory storage options, manage SKU creation, and especially mitigate inventory loss. Other than that, BackOrder is also a great tool

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