Practical Ecommerce

4 Reasons to Consider Order Management Software

Ecommerce and retail order management systems help merchants improve order processing, track inventory, sell in online marketplaces, and much more.

Every online retail business — ecommerce or brick-and-click — will have some form of order management software, typically as part of an ecommerce platform. While these built-in order-process workflows can be effective, as online sales grow in volume and complexity, it may make sense to consider a dedicated order management solution that can integrate with an ecommerce platform and other systems.

What follows are four common reasons for considering an order management solution.

1. Improve Order Processing Workflows

How an order moves from the checkout to the carrier’s truck is an online retailer’s order processing workflow. A typical order processing workflow might work like this.

  • Customer places an order.
  • Order notification email is sent to inform someone of the order.
  • Someone logs in to see the order and print a packing slip.
  • The order is packaged.
  • The order is weighed.
  • A shipping label is created and printed.
  • The label is stuck to the box and the box is ready for the carrier.

This typical process cannot be optimized. For example, wouldn’t it be easier to print the shipping label at the same time that the packing slip is printed? Or since not all ecommerce systems can directly print labels, is the person doing the packing logging into more than one system? Perhaps printing a packing slip from the ecommerce platform and then going to Stamps.com or Endicia to print a label?

Many, if not most, order management solutions will allow merchants to store not just a product’s weight, but its dimensions too. These system can also be made aware of the available package and box sizes, and, as a result, suggest which box to use for a particular order. This capability also means that the order management system can print the shipping label and the packing slip at the same time because it has a very accurate estimate of the final shipping weight and dimensions.

This one feature alone can dramatically improve workflow, since the person doing the packing could:

  • Print all packing slips and labels, for multiple orders, at once;
  • Pick and pull all products for all orders;
  • Pack all orders.

2. Track Inventory

If a merchant is only selling products through one channel, like an online store, an ecommerce platform can typically keep track of inventory. But when more than one sales channel is used, inventory management can become difficult.

Imagine, for a moment, a brick-and-click retailer that shares online inventory with its in-store inventory. It is possible that this retailer could sell the last widget of some kind in store, only to sell it again a few minutes later online.

Order management systems frequently include inventory features that would allow a merchant to connect post-sale data. Thus, the order management system could update the retailer’s website when a product was sold in the physical store and vice versa.

3. Marketplaces

Many online sellers like to list products not just on their own websites, but also on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or similar. There are some terrific solutions for integrating a merchant’s systems with these marketplaces, most notably ChannelAdvisor, which is, perhaps, the best enterprise-level solution.

But enterprise-level services may be more than a small business can afford or manage. Here again, an order management solution may be able to help. Good ecommerce order management systems almost always have integrations with Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and other marketplaces. Since these order management systems also integrate with ecommerce platforms, they can bridge the gap and help small business sell in many channels.

4. Multiple Shipping Locations

Order management solutions will typically support shipping from multiple locations.

Here is an example. Imagine a brick-and-click business with one website and two store locations: one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. The online store’s inventory is drawn directly from the stores’ inventories.

A good order management solution could look at inventory levels at each store and assign certain orders to one location or the other. Workers at each store could ship the orders assigned to them, without getting confused.

Similarly, if an online seller uses more than one vendor to drop ship orders, a good order management system could divide orders based on shipping rules and automatically notify each vendor about the items it should ship.

Choosing Your Order Management Solution

There are dozens of order management solutions that have most or all of the features that are described above.

When it comes time to select one, look for an order management solution that will integrate easily with your ecommerce system, provide the features described here, and that is priced right for your business.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. sunk818 July 25, 2014 Reply

    I used to use Stone Edge Order Manager (now Monsoon Commerce). This was one of the best affordable and featured packed software I used for daily order management. What I used to do was to scan the packing slip which brought up the order. I had Stamps.com scale connected to the serial port. There was a little scale icon you would click which sent the actual weight. Then I’d click print to have the Endicia label come out on the Eltron 2844 4×6 label.

    The software is robust enough that it can accommodate many different workflows.

  2. Cody July 25, 2014 Reply

    Great article Armando. Order management software is great for SMBs and something they should really look into. Most of these companies don’t even know how big of a problem they have until their main ordering person goes on vacation or is out sick. Recently I read a great article on how order management software can organize your business but it was for B2B companies instead of B2C. You can check it out here:
    http://info.nowcommerce.com/blog/learn-how-a-wholesale-online-ordering-system-organizes-your-business.

    Great Read Armando!

  3. Mike July 25, 2014 Reply

    Wonderful article, Armando. I enjoyed reading it. As Cody said, SMBS benefit from this software greatly. One thing that should also be considered are order across numerous ecommerce stores from one inventory, where they have to repopulate the inventory on-the-fly to assure that out-of-stocks are not occuring. I read a great article that complements this one, you can check it out here: http://www.trueship.com/blog/2014/06/13/shocking-statistics-reveal-top-five-reasons-to-consider-implementing-order-management-software-into-your-ecommerce-hub

    Awesome article, by the way!

  4. Jigar Balat July 28, 2014 Reply

    Agreed…Absolutely Correct. Actually We need to have a system that can provides information to efficiently manage the flow of materials, utilization of efforts/resources and its proper synchronisation. Not necessarily take decisions or manage operations but provides visibility to the stakeholders so that they can make more accurate and timely decisions to manage their operations. Read more : http://www.ecubixidpax.co.in/features.html

  5. Blake July 28, 2014 Reply

    And actually reviewing and approving the orders? Does no one check for fraud? Can’t rely on a plug in all the time if you want to stay in business

  6. Stella Cole August 19, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Armando for this article. Order management software is indeed necessary for any firm if it wants a systematic processing of its orders and thus maintain it for future use. You can also visit the following link for more information http://www.kaushalam.com/inventory-and-order-management.html

  7. Sarah August 21, 2014 Reply

    If you create an efficient shipping method, you’re going to increase your productivity and generate a demand for your services. Just consider how beneficial great shipping is. Over at Smart Karton, those folks have some awesome packaging solutions, no matter what you need shipped. It’s worth your time. http://www.smartkarton.com

  8. Chirantan Patel April 19, 2016 Reply

    Well, I would like to suggest Contalog, Stitchlabs, Brightpearl are most popular eCommerce order management software. They provide all in one eCommerce solution, helped us consolidate 4 software programs into 1 integrated app. Great for small to medium size ecommerce companies and those wishing to grow rapidly by automating routine processes and tasks. Saves us hours each day with automation and syncing of orders and inventory to multiple channels. I would recommend to checkout the other quite a few eCommerce site Order Management Software listed on http://blog.softwaresuggest.com/top-ecommerce-order-management-software/

  9. Manish Chowdhary August 11, 2017 Reply

    This is an excellent post. You’ve done a great job of outlining the most important functions of a modern order management system, especially the real-time view of all orders and inventory across multiple sales channels, warehouses and fulfillment centers.

    There are a couple of resources available to help people do what you’ve mentioned above — figure out which platform is best for their business:

    1. This Order Management System RFP template lists dozens of potential features to prioritize: https://www.pulse-commerce.com/definitive-rfp-template-order-management-system/

    2. This whitepaper, “5 Hidden Costs to Avoid When Buying an Order Management System” may help you avoid landmines in the buying process: https://www.pulse-commerce.com/5-hidden-costs-avoid-buying-order-management-system/

    Manish Chowdhary
    Pulse Commerce