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Order management put simply, is the tracking and fulfillment of sales orders. The process requires a basic formula to succeed. Your ultimate goal with order management is to create an outstanding cust
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Product Distribution Strategy
September 5, 2019
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What is Order Management?

Order management put simply, is the tracking and fulfillment of sales orders. The process requires a basic formula to succeed. Your ultimate goal with order management is to create an outstanding customer experience. To achieve the best customer service possible, you need to include a cycle of processes, people and suppliers. 

The order management process begins when a customer places an order. The order is monitored throughout the process. It then reaches its climax once the order has been fulfilled. The order management process, in its essence, may appear to be a simple one. The truth is, the process holds certain complexities.  The process can also involve the retention of customer information. This itself can add complexity to the process. You will need to store data in accordance with state regulation.

What is Order Management in Supply Chain?

Firstly, acknowledging the importance of the supply chain to the manufacturing industry is imperative. At its foundation, the supply chain is the foundation of the business that goes almost unrecognized. Order management in the supply chain consists of eight essential steps that should not be ignored

  • Customer Relationship Management - The building and retention of customers on an individual or group basis. Providing bespoke services based on the loyalty and history of the relationship.
  • Customer Service - Customer service will provide a key point of contact to provide information on products, shipping and ongoing orders.
  • Supplier Relationship Management - To build and maintain a healthy relationship for both parties to benefit on a long term basis.
  • Demand Management - A process that involves ensuring you can match supply to demand. This process will also include forecasting and trend management.
  • Order Fulfilment - This involves not merely fulfilling the order. It consists of meeting all necessary customer requirements while being financially viable across the process.
  • Manufacturing Management - The will involve all activities required to see goods through production, to the management of flexibility in the supply chain.
  • Product Development - The development and bringing products to market, that aligns with the requirements of customers and suppliers.
  • Return Management - In its essence, this process is reverse distribution. Effective returns management can give certain advantages over competition.

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Steps in the Order Management ProcessSteps in the Order Management Process

As mentioned previously, the order management process requires a basic formula in order to succeed. Implementing these five steps is essential for a perfectly streamlined process.

  • Order Placement - The process begins with customer order submission. The customer, aided by a member of the sales team, will place an order via a sales form. The form is then submitted for the process by the in house system. The customer can, of course, order online, over the phone or face to face. All methods will see the destination of the order be the in house system
  • Customer Management - As with supply chain, customer management is imperative. Each customer will have a record after their first order. As time goes on this record will be updated to contain transaction history, order volume and payments.
  • Order Fulfilment - The order will make its way to the inventory warehouse, generally via a digital system partnered with the inhouse one. The warehouse will prepare the order and fulfil the purchase. The inventory is monitored and depleted with each sale. On the occasion where the stock is emptied due to larger single transaction, the warehouse manager will contact the purchasing department for replenishment request.
  • Order Entry - A second copy of the order is sent to the accounts department. The order will then be categorized into cash sale or invoiceable account. These orders are uploaded into accounting software. Any transaction is logged, and an invoice is then generated to be sent to the customer.
  • Delivery of Order - A shipping service, usually contracted, will collect the goods from the distribution point and deliver them to the customer.

If you're operating an e-commerce business, consider taking a look at our article How Does the E-Commerce Fulfillment Process Work? This page provides in-depth details about ins and outs of the e-commerce fulfillment process.

How Does an Order Management System Work?How Does an Order Management System Work

An order management system works as the glue that holds a business together. The key to its operation is its unifying qualities. The beauty of an order management system is that it will combine all of your tedious processes and simplify them under amalgamation. An order management system will essentially do far more than streamline a multitude of tasks. The OMS can be a single system that manages all channels of business. The OMS will successfully be able to manage orders, CRM, forecasting, inventory, warehouse management, accounting, and marketing. What an OMS does is offers the business not only streamlining but also an integrated automation process.

Am order management system will include everything you need to control the internal operations process of a business. When a business doesn’t have a system of singularity like an OMS, they will be dealing with a multitude of tools and systems for each of their processes. This, of course, leaves plenty of room for error. 

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An OMS will ensure your business is far more than just streamlined. All of your business tasks will seem to run more efficiently, and this will also be partnered with a real-time availability of information for all of your processes. You have this access to real-time data as all of the data is seated in a single centralized database. 

The OMS system can also aid in removing the guesswork from marketing campaigns and can automate your forecast projections. The OMS system will identify structured patterns over its total time of operation. The OMS system does this by recognizing trends from previous orders and recommending a forecast order with an added buffer.

A sound order management system is malleable to your business. All businesses are individual and have their requirements. Your OMS system should be equally as flexible to meet the needs of the company. 

The most important thing to note about how and order management system works is its ability to save time and reduce errors. The OMS system, as noted, keeps everything in one place. When a system operates in this way, everything can be tied to one account. Having a plethora of systems that are not connected may produce missing links in a process. Given the ability to unify all processes and streamline them, this saves much in the way of time, and there is very little room for error. 

Most OMS systems now come with an added bonus. The majority of the are fully integrational with existing systems. So the order management system can not only unify the business it can now offer symbiosis when it comes to existing systems.

How to Avoid Problems in Order Management

Many wholesalers discover that when they launch their business, problems can begin to rear their heads. These problems occur more frequently as the business grows. Of course, as the business grows, the larger the involvement of people. What seems like minor problems at the time, can occur, but these problems can have substantial lasting effects on any business and tarnish reputations that have been built with customers.

Streamlining is an absolute necessity with processes. This will help massively reduce delays and mistakes. Here are just a few of the points of an ineffective order management process.

  • Orders submissions are delayed
  • A human error leading to fulfillment mistakes
  • Old software
  • No real-time inventory information

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The best way to avoid problems with your order management process is to use order management software. As far as solutions go, no better will be found. As mentioned above, the OMS system is the best way to ensure absolute functionality with your business and add an all-around streamlined process. Most problems, at their source, can be rooted in bad and outdated systems and the process of your order system.

Take a look at these solutions.

  • Having an order automation process. This eliminates the risk of human error and makes duplication errors a thing of the past
  • Having an integration process for all digital means, you can amalgamate most of your operations and have everything on a single system. This will eliminate loss.
  • Update old software that affects fulfillment.
  • Have a real-time system available. This will eliminate backorders and delivery slowdowns.

For more information about wholesale distribution, check out our wholesale distribution strategy page.

How to Improve Your Order Management ProcessHow to Improve Your Order Management Process

The first step when it comes to improving your order management process is, of course, ensuring that employees are on board with the system. All staff need to be trained to an equal and high level to give the best service possible. 

Another vital step is again to do with unification and automation. Having your customer orders synchronized with your inventory is going to play a massive part in improving your process. Automating your stock additions and deletions to let customers know real-time levels is incredibly important. When customers order something that is out of stock, it leaves them disgruntled and taking business elsewhere.

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Making your system and dashboard available to the customer is also a great way to improve your order management process. Giving the customer the availability to access their account from anywhere and the options to check on their history will help your process thoroughly.

As mentioned, automation is the key to improvement when it comes to the order management process. The apparent key to growth is to remove the need for anything manual and to retire any tasks that an OMS can deem redundant. Having as many functions as possible automated will not only see the order management process improve, improvement will be noticeable elsewhere. Staff productivity rates will be higher as the menial jobs will now be automated.

Finally having order consolidation will help to streamline the process. Reducing the number of available channels when it comes to ordering will serve to minimize mistakes. The more mediums for order available, the higher the possibility of loss or duplication. Consolidating and incorporating with a single OMS will see improvements that will be noticeable overnight. 

Order Management and FulfillmentOrder Management and Fulfillment

The order fulfillment process is the path a company takes from the moment an order is received until the customer has the order right in front of them. The order fulfilment process looks a little like this:

  1. Order is received. 
  2. Order is processed. 
  3. Notification is sent to the customer to notify them of order receipt.
  4. Order is passed to the warehouse. This usually happens both digitally and a paper version. 
  5. Order is then located at the warehouse by a warehouse operative.
  6. Order will be sent to packing, and here it will be packaged ready for shipping.
  7. Order is shipped.
  8. The customer receives notification that order has been dispatched.
  9. Order arrives with customer.

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The fulfillment process itself is yet again one that can be mistaken for a simple one, and this is also a misconception. The order management process has requirements from even the fulfilment process. The requirements will generally follow the fulfillment metric. This metric follows the following steps.

  • Order complete.
  • Order on time.
  • Order damage free.
  • Order with correct documentation. 

Achieving this every time is a difficult feat for most companies, especially as the distribution is generally via a third-party logistics company. 

Businesses will also face multiple challenges when it comes to the fulfillment process. Some of these challenges are outlined below:

  • Demand - Demand is something that can be taken care of by a decent OMS system. The OMS system will automate all of your forecastings and add appropriate buffers for quarterly stock predictions.
  • Inventory management - Having real-time visibility of stock is essential when it comes to fulfilment. If a customer doesn’t realize an item is out of stock at the time of ordering. The order may not be fulfilled on time, or worst-case scenario, maybe at all.
  • Supply chain - This is merely knowing the supply chain. How long will it take to replenish stock for the supplier?
  • Logistics - Possibly the biggest challenge in the fulfillment process. Logistics are, as mentioned, generally third-party. This is where the responsibility is no longer in the hands of the business. Although the product may be with the logistics distribution company, the onus will always stand with the distributed business.

As you can see, managing inventory is an important aspect of the fulfillment process. For more information on warehousing and inventory management, take a look at our warehouse consultants page.

Implementing an Order Management System

The implementation of an OMS, as earlier mentioned, would be the most beneficial thing that could be done in regards to streamlining a business. The actual process of implementation should, first of all, involve planning. The first thing that will need to happen is that all existing data needs to be ported to the OMS software. A team may be necessary for this. 

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Having a specific team designated for the setup and implementation of a CMS is vital. The setup should be a slow and steady process. This will help prevent the risk of loss of existing customer data. There should also be a preparation for a testing period. This period shouldn’t function live and should involve training for all members of staff across the business.

The system should always be tested and retested. Going live without weeks of testing could instantly mean disaster for your business. The implementation of an OMS may sound like a scary process but providing it’s done the correct way, and it will benefit a businesses order management process and much more, very quickly.

Why Order Management Drives Business

Order management drives business simply because it is the beating heart to its success. From time-saving and reducing errors to streamlining and unifying nearly all processes. It is at its core the key to success. 

Order management provides efficiency, improves customer experience and even improves fulfilment. Overall, an order management process, when used correctly in the difference between a business succeeding and a business failing. 

Order Management Consulting with R+L Global Logistics

As seen above, when it comes to importance, having an OMS can be so incredibly beneficial to a business and its order management process. The only thing that is taken out of the hand of the business is the end of its fulfillment. 

When it comes down to it, the success of the order management process will always come down to fulfilment. If an order is received as planned by the customer, this will always result in repeat custom. This is why getting the shipping and logistics right is imperative. R + L Global Logistics offer a full range of international transport options will the added beauty of having on hand, industry experts available at every turn. 

It is so important to have access to experienced logistics and handling, and this is both for the benefit of the business and the customer. R + L Global Logistics also make use of their own OMS system and allow you full access to track and trace your shipments from collection to delivery. Having a service like this available is an incredible addition that will help complete a businesses order management process. 

Have more questions? Contact us and we’ll help you better understand the e-commerce distribution network and order management process today!

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