For many eCommerce retailers, the story of their business is a play in three acts.
The first takes place in the startup period where everything seems possible, each day is an exciting adventure, and sales orders are treated with the care and enthusiasm normally reserved for a shiny new car.
Act Two is a swirling episode of growth, elation, and turmoil. With a surge in sales come unforeseen problems. Manual processes used to route and fulfill orders can no longer keep pace with the rise in volume. Human errors mount, customer satisfaction slips, and technology that seemed to work well before is now choking the lifeblood of the business.
Our hero is at a crossroads.
Whether Act Three becomes tragedy or triumph depends on which road the merchant decides to take, and choosing to invest in a powerful order management system (OMS) is often the first step on the path to victory.
This is not a decision to be made lightly, however. Many options exist in the marketplace and one size does not fit all. SkuNexus designs order management solutions for eCommerce brands of all shapes and sizes and we want to help businesses in their search for the right platform.
Here, we will discuss 9 essential features to look for in an OMS and touch on how SkuNexus delivers on each one.
1. Software Integrations
It should come as no surprise that we consider seamless software integrations to be the most important feature of an OMS. The ability of your order management software to communicate with all manner of different systems is mission critical. Any breakdown in the open flow of data can have a ripple effect that disrupts other areas of your business.
To alleviate these potential issues, SkuNexus is purposefully constructed to align with other systems of varying types.
For specific eCommerce platforms, SkuNexus offers native integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento 1/2. These have been engineered for easy implementation and can be configured in a matter of minutes by a non-technical member of your team.
In addition to these sales channels, SkuNexus also has preconfigured integrations with over 150 other platforms (ERP, POS, PIM, BI, eCommerce marketplaces, et al). This allows for quick and easy onboarding and ensures clean, uninterrupted communication throughout your tech stack.
In the event that something you need isn't preconfigured, our team or one of our valued channel partners can quote a custom integration.
2. Real-Time Information Sync
Information sync is a crucial function that ensures the same data exists between various endpoints throughout the system. This is vital for maintaining accuracy and consistency and many merchants assume it just happens automatically. Needless to say, it does not.
Any lags in data sync are windows for errors to occur. In the simplest of examples, imagine if a customer places an order for an out-of-stock item shown to be available due to lagging inventory data. It will result in a negative customer experience at best and quite possibly the loss of that customer forever.
SkuNexus allows information flow from eCommerce, ERP, and any other integrations, in real time. It achieves this by continually pulling data as quickly as connected software provides it. This maintains 100% inventory accuracy across all channels and can save as much as 30 minutes (or more) per order. Factor that out over time and the increased efficiency and productivity provided by this feature becomes abundantly clear.
3. Automated Order Routing
Automating this stage of the order management process is a profound saver of both time and money. The system digests all necessary order information, checks inventory against fulfillment centers, makes a series of decisions (based on your inputs), and routes the order, automatically.
This all takes place “in the background” of your business and lets employees focus on other tasks.
It also provides merchants extreme flexibility and total authority. By allowing an unlimited amount of “if, then” order decision rules to be employed, the SkuNexus OMS affords total command over the routing process.
And, should you want to route orders between warehouses, brick-and-mortar locations, 3PLs, dropshipping vendors, or any other connected parties (internal or external), you can do so within SkuNexus. Such a range of options puts the power in your hands to maximize both profitability and customer experience without any decrease in control.
4. Clear Order Statuses
The complicated nature of order management can provide many opportunities for confusion and human error. All the more reason that an OMS should offer clarity whenever possible.
SkuNexus has clear and customizable order statuses to make it easier for employees to see open orders awaiting fulfillment, view purchase orders, etc. These can be customized to fit exactly within your company's existing workflows.
Orders may also be “tagged” with custom attributes for use during the order fulfillment process. These will both direct employee attention to those orders and/or drive further automation decisions.
5. Omnichannel (Sales & Fulfillment)
The expansion of available sales channels combined with a range of fulfillment options has added multiple layers of complexity to any online retailer’s business processes. The need for accuracy, flexibility, and centralized control provided by a powerful OMS has never been more acute.
SkuNexus helps merchants navigate this complex field through its simplicity. By functioning as a single source of truth (SSOT), SkuNexus aggregates all data into a single platform. Orders from disparate channels can then be managed in one place, and an array of fulfillment methods (ship, BOPIS/ship-from-store, dropship) may be selected.
This flexibility in fulfillment has added benefits. Dropshipping can offer a backstop if stock is out as well as widen a merchant’s available product line. BOPIS/ship-from-store, on the other hand, can have a tremendous impact on inventory control. By leveraging in-store merchandise through online channels, an eCommerce retailer can increase turnover and decrease carrying costs.
6. Returns Management
Making returns as simple as possible is a major component of the customer experience and making the management of returns as simple as possible should be a major component of your OMS.
The SkuNexus returns module allows merchants to track returns, decide whether or not they can be added back into inventory, and act accordingly. As with other features of the system, it can also be added to/customized fully for enterprise clients with specific workflows.
7. Roles (Security Settings) for Every User
The need for rigorous control across an eCommerce enterprise extends into areas you may not have considered and that includes establishing user roles on the platform.
Clearly defined roles control what employees can see and do - only information relevant to their work and responsibility level is accessible. In addition to fostering data security, it helps ensure employees will not be distracted by unnecessary material.
For example, whereas a COO can see everything internally and at connected third-party locations, warehouse employees will only see fulfillments/tasks for their given role and location.
In a system like SkuNexus which places no limits on the number of users of the software, this becomes even more important.
As with other key components of our system, SkuNexus makes managing roles as simple as possible for the administrator. It is as easy as going through a list of items in the software and checking those items you want your user to see.
8. Ability to Customize for Specific Operations and Workflows
Like buying a bespoke suit vs. one off-the-rack, a worthy OMS should be a custom fit. Every enterprise has unique requirements and must have a system that meets its exact specifications.
As the business evolves, however, those requirements may change and need alterations. This is where having software that can be further tailored is pivotal.
SkuNexus is not bound by the constraints that limit many other software systems. Our clients, both with our help and entirely on their own, have taken the platform in a wide number of different directions.
From customized receiving methods to proprietary packing operations to printing elaborate shipping labels, the system can accommodate broad creativity. Simply put, SkuNexus will never be an impediment to a brand as it develops better ways to do things.
9. Ability to Grow with the Company
Just as a naval fleet is only as swift as its slowest ship, so too is an online retailer’s growth bound by its management software. An OMS that has been customized to meet your brand’s extensive demands needs to have staying power for the long haul.
As a best-in-breed OMS, SkuNexus has the performance and reliability to serve as a foundational element of an eCommerce business. This steadiness is augmented by the flexibility that can easily adapt to changes in other parts of a merchant’s tech stack.
SkuNexus places no limits on users, integrations, warehouses, fulfillment options, order volume, or customer support. As your business moves forward, you can trust that SkuNexus will expand and adjust as needed to whatever decisions you make to help it grow.
Every eCommerce business faces great challenges, and the success stories of the future will be those merchants who combine creativity, drive, discipline, and strategic vision. Regardless of the issues and growing pains you may currently be experiencing, powerful tools exist to help you conquer them and enjoy vastly improved operations on the other side.
A SkuNexus order management system can be one of those tools.
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