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Written by Robert McCarthy

7 Common Challenges in the Order Management Cycle

SkuNexus analyzes the order management process, discusses common eCommerce merchant issues and related solutions.

Murphy’s Law is generally accepted to be, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.” For many merchants, this highly unscientific adage describes their trials with eCommerce order management.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The challenges presented by the order management process can seem overwhelming, but it is crucial to know that you are not alone. The same types of problems you face have already been encountered by other brands. Online retail may be a relatively new form of commerce, but the speed at which it is evolving has demanded solutions be found at an equally rapid rate.

At SkuNexus, we design customizable order management solutions for eCommerce merchants, and we learn more about the issues they face with every conversation.

From the growing startup to the global powerhouse, all share one thing in common - they want to improve how their brand is doing things. Period.

Increased speed. Seamless integrations. Fewer steps. Better communication. More efficiency. Higher productivity. Reduced errors. Less headaches.

The order management cycle presents a range of opportunities for achieving these goals. Here, we will take a look at several hurdles merchants may encounter during different stages of the process and discuss some creative ways SkuNexus can help conquer them.

SkuNexus order management provides solutions with multiple sales channel organization.

1. Managing Disparate Sales Channels

Show us an online retailer who scoffs at the notion that getting multiple orders across a variety of sales channels can possibly be “a problem,” and we’ll show you one who hasn’t dealt with it yet. 

Just as eCommerce itself has grown exponentially since the days when Jeff Bezos ran a small bookstore, so too have the available platforms for offering your products. Being able to sell through your own online store, the Amazon and Google marketplaces, eBay, and Walmart, et al, can have a profound impact on your revenues. However, it can also present profound difficulties.

Without an Order Management System (OMS) that can collect orders from all these different sources into a single portal, dysfunction will rule the day. 

The inability to see orders in one place creates enormous inefficiency and severely restricts decision-making. A company needs accurate, centralized order data to manage inventory levels and fulfillment processes, amongst other things. This is simply not achievable if orders are siloed in different locations. 

Going further, decentralized data not only affects a brand’s day-to-day operations, but will make long-term strategic planning extremely difficult and scaling nearly impossible. 

The best approach is to find a system that both connects to whatever existing channels you are working with as well as those you wish to pursue in the future. Such flexibility is a critical component of SkuNexus. It allows users to:

  • Enjoy native integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. 
  • Choose plug-and-play integrations with over 150+ solution providers (eCommerce, Marketplaces, POS/PIM/ERP software, Marketing, BI). 
  • Select from a wide suite of pre-existing integrations. 

This all adds up to a more effective, less costly solution with a dramatic reduction in implementation issues.

SkuNexus order management system OMS provides order routing solutions.

2. Routing Orders Internally and Between 3PLs

The balancing act between self-fulfillment and 3PLs can become a crucial issue during order processing. Even for businesses that send all orders to a 3PL, instances sometimes arise when internal fulfillment is necessary. For example, a merchant may be unwilling to risk impacting its customer experience by leaving VIP or rush orders, reships, or any other custom order type, to a 3PL.  

To ensure control in this area, an OMS should allow the option to easily distribute orders within a brand’s internal network of fulfillment centers as needed. 

How can this be accomplished?

In SkuNexus, Order Decision Rules can be configured based on any piece of information associated with an order. Not only are these rules infinitely customizable, they can also be adjusted in real time. This method of managing orders gives merchants powerful command over routing and can have a profound impact on order accuracy.

In this model, established rules would segregate and direct any special orders tagged for internal processing. Conversely, standard orders would automatically be routed to a fulfillment partner.

3. Leveraging In-Store Merchandise

This is an oft-overlooked issue that demands discussion. Brick-and-mortar stores are sales channels themselves and they must be integrated into a brand’s OMS. Failing to do so is akin to leaving them on a proverbial island.

By integrating them into the OMS, a merchant can then offer BOPIS and ship-from-store fulfillment options. Not only are these increasingly popular with customers, but they also help with a brand’s inventory management, demand planning, and bottom line. Making in-store merchandise available to online shoppers reduces the risk of overstocking popular items across channels and then being forced to discount those left unsold at physical locations. 

SkuNexus supports BOPIS and ship-from-store to ensure your products get to the right customers, at the right time, and at the highest margin.

SkuNexus order management leverages inventory with BOPIS and ship from store.

4. Executing & Tracking Dropshipping Orders

Having the ability to track orders at every step of the process is vital to optimized management and this includes dropshipping. Regardless of how trusted a dropshipping partner may be, your customer does not know who is fulfilling their order. Any issues that impact the process will reflect negatively on your business. 

Being that the order will be fulfilled by someone else, it is critical to make your own actions as streamlined and efficient as possible. The time saved can help meet customer expectations for on-time delivery. SkuNexus vendor management provides the tools to do this.

By integrating with a vendor’s system, SkuNexus allows visibility into their stock/prices and will automatically send a PO to begin the process. Continued communication flow between both parties lets a merchant see where the order status stands at all times as it moves through fulfillment by the dropshipper.

5. Organizing Orders

At SkuNexus, we constantly talk about organization as a key to having an optimized eCommerce backend. This is an easy concept to grasp when discussing things like warehouse management, but when it comes to organizing orders, how to accomplish it might not be so obvious. 

An OMS should collect as much information as possible for any given order - customer data, fulfillment data, cost and revenue data, etc. The more data you have, the easier it will be to segment orders based on whatever criteria you choose.

In addition, orders can be organized through a tagging system. These identifiers categorize orders into all manner of subsets (e.g. special instructions, customs information, gifts, VIP, loyalty customers, do not sell to, manager review required, etc.)

Part of the power of SkuNexus lies in its wealth of order organizing tools. 

  • The platform offers unlimited order information as pulled from connected channels or added within the software, all organized and filterable within a dynamic grid view. 
  • Orders are tracked by status (Open, In Partial Fulfillment, In Fulfillment, Closed) through to the end of the process. 
  • Customer order data is aggregated in the system and easily accessible by customer service.

6. Reducing Order Errors

A significant element of an OMS is its capacity to identify errors and make sure they are corrected during processing. This runs the gamut from the wrong item being picked at the warehouse to a shipping label with a 4-digit zip code. 

Armed with a vast array of checks and balances (barcode scanning, user permissions, address validation, etc.), and the library of data mentioned above, an OMS like SkuNexus will catch errors, and orders in question will be flagged for special attention. Only once the error has been fixed will the order be permitted to proceed. 

7. Handling International Orders

Few aspects of eCommerce are more enticing than the idea you can now sell your products everywhere. With third-party logistics and fulfillment being a worldwide industry, robust solutions abound. Unfortunately, even with a site optimized for other languages and currencies, without the right OMS, the intricacies of international order management can make the notion of going global feel completely out of reach.  

In order to make it a reality, your OMS needs to be able to integrate with international 3PLs and their software systems. An end-to-end solution would also handle shipping and provide navigation for potentially complex areas like insurance and customs requirements.

SkuNexus integrates with over 150 global carriers through EasyPost and ShippyPro. Our platform can handle all special considerations for these packages and is translatable in over 100 languages for international staff.

The issues merchants may encounter during order management can be daunting, however they are not insurmountable. Armed with an order management system like SkuNexus, brands have the ability to take control of their eCommerce operations in ways that might never have seemed possible.

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