A visitor to your ecommerce site browses the digital aisles and throws some products into their cart. They fill it up and head for the checkout. As soon as a consumer clicks “buy” an entire system kicks into place that runs in the background of every ecommerce site, and continues right up until the delivery ends up at your front door – really good content management systems stretch beyond that to provide customer aftercare.
That system is the order management system (OMS).
An OMS tracks a customer’s order and handles the steps involved in getting those products to the customer. So let’s look under the hood and take a peek at the parts of an OMS.
Every story – as well as system – begins somewhere. Part one begins when a customer places an order, which is then received by a company, who in turn processes the order and collects the payment for it. Once this is completed the order is forwarded to the warehouse which stores your products.
This in turn puts your warehouse staff to work, finding the products and packing them so that they’re ready for shipment. When your warehouse staff picks the products, they can relay to the OMS if some product is not available, or if there are similar products that a customer may want – this is used often with big food retailers and supermarkets.
Packagers then are responsible for – surprise, surprise – packaging products and sending them for shipping, using the right material and ensuring the best quality, such as whether to use bubble wrap, styrofoam, etc.
Products are then put on the ship – or truck, or van, or bicycle! – and head for the customer. The workers at these shipping stations typically carry out the following tasks: attach the relevant labels and invoice to the package; and register the package as shipped so that other staff are kept up to date with the status, and more importantly, the customer is made aware of their order status.
But what about those cases when a product is out of stock and there is no relevant alternative to provide for the customers? A company is faced with two options. The first is to postpone the order (through backordering or dropshipping) and the second option is to simply cancel the order, and annoy potentially lost customers.
Backordering is when a company buys an order from a supplier for products that they no longer had in stock. Then as soon as a supplier provides a date of delivery for the company, the company can then notify the end customer as to an expected day for delivery.
Dropshipping, on the other hand, the company provides their supplier with the customer’s order who in turn directly mails it to the customer, skipping the company completely.
Here is when the after-sale service kicks in, and is the final part of an OMS. Once a customer hears the front door bell with their order in the hands of the delivery guy, a company then follows up and receives feedback from customers – do they want to return their order? Do they want to exchange something?
This part has become acute since last year and particularly now after we’ve recently come out of the holiday season – return rates during the holiday season can reach 30% in a non-pandemic year. And how your company handles this section can be the difference between losing a potential customer forever and forming a loyal customer who likes how easy it is to return an item.
These four parts all make up the basics of a standard order management system. But brands and retailers can build around them and customize the capabilities of what they can do in order to fit their needs.
Although from the outside it doesn’t seem so important, the functioning of an order management system has a strong impact on the customer, and heavily influences their perception of you as a brand.
And like all tech, some digital solutions are better than others. Take, for example, customers of Salesforce B2C Commerce Cloud who can easily integrate with Salesforce Order Management, a world-class OMS native to Salesforce that connects customer care among all channels. Think about it, a customer orders online yet may have questions that they want to ask over the phone. Or someone is looking online yet gets help from a call center to complete the order.
And with Salesforce Order Management, customers can view the visibility of their orders as it is updated as it goes through the corresponding sections. And each of these sections are ideal points of brand-customer interaction, to offer ideal customer experiences, and to strengthen retention rates.