WHAT IS AN OMS?

An order management system is a platform which tracks sales, orders, stock and consignments so merchants can centrally manage stock and the order fulfilment process.

Merchants of all sizes (SMEs, mid-market, enterprise) and types (B2B, B2C, DTC) use an OMS to ensure their order management process runs smoothly and efficiently.

SELL ON MULTIPLE PLATFORMS WITH EASE

I remember when I had an ecommerce website and sold on marketplaces, I would literally juggle stock numbers – adjusting stock on multiple platforms, ring-fencing stock for busy weekends, and continuously log in to change inventory levels.

That was in the noughties, but this still happens with 7-figure merchants I speak with today.  And juggling is often the word that comes up time and time again.

Using an OMS with omnichannel capabilities literally takes away this problem, constantly synchronising e-commerce stores and marketplaces with near-real-time inventory levels.

Sell 5 items on marketplace 1, marketplace 2 and your e-commerce store has the stock level reduced by 5.

Sell 3 items on your e-commerce store, and both marketplaces have their stock reduced by 3.

No more clowning around and juggling.

How much time and stress does that save?

IMPROVE AND SPEED UP ORDER PROCESSING

The traditional order management process involved printing off an order or picklist, picking the order, inputting the address details into a courier’s portal, printing the label, and preparing the parcel(s), after which tracking details are added to orders within the e-commerce store or marketplace so customers know their order has been despatched.

Open to human error in the picking process or address input stage, I still see merchants doing this today.

Incorporating an OMS not only removes the human error element but makes it much quicker to print shipping labels and update tracking information within the orders.

Nowadays most merchants use barcode scanning as a way to ensure the correct items are picked and packed, and any leading OMS integrates with the main post and courier companies.

Order management systems download orders from the various sales channels and allow users to print off the desired number of shipping labels depending on how many parcels the order requires, regardless of the courier being used.

Considering that manually creating shipping labels can take anywhere up to a minute, automating this part of the order management process saves at least 45 seconds per order.  It might not sound like much, but it soon adds up when you’re processing hundreds of orders a day. 

Saving time translates to saving money.

CENTRALISE PRODUCT INFORMATION

Whilst it’s important to acknowledge that order management systems are not PIMs (Product Information Management systems) they have some functionality which allows them to be used as basic PIMs, removing the need to have spreadsheets and word documents.

Depending on the size of a product catalogue, centralising product information can make managing product titles, SKUs, product descriptions, prices and digital assets such as product photos much easier.

A single source of truth is something most companies incorporate, whether it is a spreadsheet, accounting system or database, and by using a single software to manage product information there is the added benefit of data structure and audit trails, again reducing the possibility of human error.

Imagine someone accidentally deleting rows of data in a spreadsheet, or worse, a whole file.

CONCLUSION

Order management systems automate much of the manual work undertaken by staff who prepare orders, and not only remove the risk of human error but make processing orders so much faster.

Whilst these systems have a price attached to them, it’s important to view it as an investment rather than a cost, as it has a net positive impact on business.

Less time spent adjusting stock, inputting addresses, printing pick lists and fixing mistakes results in cost savings, in addition to the reduction of brand damage mistakes can cause.

Do you use an OMS in your e-commerce business? How have you found it? Let us know in the comments.

by Luigi Moccia