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Order Management & Fulfillment Guide

March 23, 2021
Table of Contents

Order management plays a major role in a business’s ability to meet customer demand and increase sales.

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A failure to invest in the right tools and people can cause long-term damage and limit your growth.

Whether you’re a business owner looking to streamline their order fulfillment process or a prospective order management specialist, it’s vital that you understand how order management works.

First, let's go over the basics of the order management process.

What Is Order Processing?

Order processing, or order management, is the receiving, tracking, and fulfillment of customers’s orders. It is an incredibly important part of the sales and order fulfillment process. Proper order management is vital for a few reasons.

First, order processing is a key part of inventory management. It is responsible for the flow of products in and out of a business. Proper management will allow you to avoid issues with overstocking, which leads to dead stock, and understocking, which causes backordered products.

Second, it has a direct impact on customer retention and customer satisfaction. Shipping errors like delivering the wrong products, shipping to the wrong location, or delays can greatly affect your relationship with your customers. Streamlining the process avoids these issues and leaves you with a happier eCommerce shipping team.

Third, it has a direct impact on your business's bottom line. Improperly managed orders result in wasted resources. You can choose to use a 3PL fulfillment company or invest in an order management system to limit this waste.

How Does Order Processing Work?

Order processing includes product picking, sorting, packing, tracking, and shipping. In general, this is done in six steps.

These steps include order placement, order reception, product picking, packing, shipping, and delivery. In the first two steps, the order comes in through various channels and is sent along to the fulfillment team to prepare for shipment. These orders may be placed over-the-phone, in person, through an eCommerce marketplace, or in another way.

The final four steps fall on the fulfillment team. They first locate the products in the order. Then they assemble and place the order in safe, branded eCommerce packaging. The packages are shipped to the customer and updates are provided as needed. Finally, the product arrives at the customer's provided delivery location

This portion of the process is also called order fulfillment and includes some of the most impactful parts of the order management process.

What Is Order Fulfillment?

Order fulfillment is the process of receiving, packaging, and shipping a customer's order. This process takes place nearly entirely in a business's own warehouse by employees or is outsourced to a third-party company for 3PL eCommerce fulfillment.

How to Improve Your Order Fulfillment Process

There are many ways to streamline your order fulfillment process, but there are four steps most businesses should take.

These steps include integrating all order management software, contracting a well-known shipping company, establishing well-located warehouses, and focusing on customer contact. Here's how each step can help.

First, by integrating all your software, you can cut down on human error and streamline processes. It will also save you a lot of money in the long run since warehouse employees no longer need to manually print and track orders.

Second, when choosing a shipping company, avoid lesser-known ones. This is because shipping times are more important than ever, and less established companies may not have a track record for fast, efficient delivery. Unless they can guarantee delivery on time, you're better off choosing a big name. Plus, the right shipping partner can help you understand can and can't ship legally, like shipping alcohol.

Third, warehouse location plays a big part in controlling fulfillment times. If you own multiple warehouses or use a third-party fulfillment company, sticking with locations near your target market will keep shipping times down and ensure your customers don't get frustrated.

Fourth, staying in constant contact with your customers can help alleviate any problems that do occur during the fulfillment process. Status updates, delivery changes, and more need to be communicated quickly and clearly. BlueCart Wholesale is a great option for suppliers to connect with buyers and lets them stay in contact throughout the purchasing process as the app has built-in chat, email, and phone functionality.

Now that you know all about order management and fulfillment, let's take a look at some tools available to make your job easier.

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What Is an Order Management System?

An order management system (OMS) is an all-encompassing order management software that lets a business consolidate and manage orders coming from multiple sales channels in a single interface.

This system helps streamline processes and eliminate errors. It does this by automating data transfers, aggregating order data in one place, and lets you manage and adjust orders easily. This is especially important for any business that uses a multichannel sales funnel.

Benefits of an Order Management System

Using an order management system can have many beneficial effects on your operations and bottom line.

Here are the biggest benefits to using order management software:

First, it leads to long-term cost savings. It does this by limiting the risk of human errors by taking much of the process out of their hands. It takes over the management of order data and inventory levels which frees up employees to focus on shipping. This means you don't spend as much on inventory control costs like labor cost or overhead expenses.

Second, it alleviates the stress your warehouse employees are under, particularly when order volume increases. Growing sales is important, but if fulfillment processes are manual, this can create major trouble in the warehouse. By automating parts of the process, you'll increase employee satisfaction and retention. Both lead to a better functioning warehouse and higher sales.

Third, it increases customer satisfaction. It does this by ensuring the quality and speed of your fulfillment process. This is vital, a majority of customers are unlikely to shop with a business again if an order is late by as few as two days. These systems also allow a business to provide fast, free shipping, which can increase sales and customer retention by more than 20%.

These systems can transform your order management processes and lead to much higher sales volumes. To make the most of these gains, you'll need to have an order management specialist.

What Is an Order Management Specialist?

An order management specialist is in charge of all aspects of the order fulfillment process.

Order management specialists are a valuable part of the warehouse team and are ultimately responsible for getting accurate orders shipped quickly.

One of the best tools for these specialists is BlueCart eCommerce. It's an all-in-one platform that users of all experience levels can pick up and can be integrated with most order management systems. It even comes with Shippo integration out of the box.

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Order Management Specialist Job Duties

Order management specialists are responsible for all steps in the order management process. This includes receiving orders, entering information into the order management system, picking, packing, and shipping products.

Due to the many aspects of the job, order management specialists must have a wide variety of responsibilities.

The most important responsibility of an order management specialist is the processing of orders. This includes receiving incoming orders, finding products in the warehouse, packaging and shipping the order, and updating any inventory tracking software.

The next most important responsibility is vendor and customer management. This may include creating and issuing invoices to wholesale customers, calling and requesting an update from vendors, or relaying shipping delays to customers. These all require an order management specialist to have good interpersonal skills and be able to manage more responsibilities than other fulfillment team members.

The final responsibility of an order management specialist is the ability to expedite orders. This is the process of securing and shipping products and components quickly and efficiently. It requires an eye for detail and time management skills to ensure the highest quality products are ordered and that they arrive in time for use. For many businesses, this responsibility is key in their ability to meet demand.