In today’s complicated ecommerce landscape, managing orders has become an impressive feat for any business, and the pandemic has only accelerated the boom in ecommerce sales. According to Insider Intelligence, site sales from B2B ecommerce companies are expected to reach $1.77 trillion in 2022. But with such a high sales order volume, fulfilment can quickly become unmanageable.
As B2B buyers come to expect the same ordering services and experiences as their B2C counterparts, businesses must meet and exceed these demands. Companies need to implement an effective management process to not only ensure order accuracy but guarantee customer satisfaction as well.
What is Order Management?
Order management is the process of:
- Accepting a customer order
- Taking the item(s) out of inventory
- Packing and shipping them
- Tracking each order until delivery
- Processing returns and reorders
- Replenishing stock for future orders
While its definition might seem simple, the order management process is anything but.
Some small businesses that only receive a few orders per day might be able to get by with manual processes. However, they often spend far too many hours completing each purchase order. From reviewing spreadsheets and monitoring inventory levels, to creating each individual shipping label, this lost time is better spent on growing the business.
In addition to the time they take, manual processes are prone to human error and provide little visibility into order status. When just one delayed or misplaced package can make or break the customer experience, it’s absolutely critical that businesses ensure accuracy while fulfilling orders. This includes managing B2B complexities like minimum order quantities, different pricing, regular repeat orders, and more.
B2B order management software optimises this process by organising, streamlining, and automating key parts of your order processing and fulfilment functions. It starts from the moment you make a sale. Order data is sent to your company’s inventory, and the system monitors the package until its delivery. Finally, the process ends with an evaluation of the customer experience. This is typically a short, automated survey with questions to gauge customer satisfaction.
The Benefits of Order Management
Convenience has always been a driving force behind delivery advancements. With ecommerce giants like Amazon pushing to make two-day delivery the norm, manufacturers and distributors have had an exceedingly difficult time meeting their customers’ expectations. This disparity will only continue to increase as business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) companies, such as Uber Eats, offer same-day delivery for grocery items.
Order management software aims to achieve maximum convenience for both you and your B2B customers by streamlining the entire order fulfilment process. Whether you’re a small business or a multi-million dollar enterprise with various locations, an order management system can provide your company with the functions and capabilities it needs to meet growing demands and maintain a positive ROI. Let’s take a look at the different benefits order management has for both buyers and sellers.
While companies tend to receive the most value from an order management system, their customers also experience a few benefits, including:
- Faster, easier ordering with upload of SKU number spreadsheets, custom pricing, product recommendations, and more
- Real-time, automatic updates on order status and expected delivery time
- Centralised customer service across each sales channel to address any inquiries
Companies can expect to see numerous benefits in using an order management system, including:
- Reduced indirect costs due to more efficient inventory management
- Timely fulfilment and order accuracy through automated processes
- Streamlined warehouse management with improved, real-time visibility on order status, stock levels, and upcoming orders based on repeat purchases
- Omnichannel fulfilment for every sales channel you have
- Customisable reporting and analytics for data-driven decisions
How Order Management Saves Time
Although there are many best practices for B2B ecommerce businesses, order management is one of the most critical processes to optimise. Not only does improved order fulfilment increase customer satisfaction, it also uncovers new efficiencies, enabling accelerated business growth. Here are five ways in which effective order management can save your company time on fulfilling orders.
1. Reduce Manual Tasks With Automation
Traditional order management involves a multitude of time-consuming manual processes. Perhaps the most tedious task of all is data entry. With an order fulfilment system, information is automatically entered into the database without the need for human intervention. Not only does this dramatically improve overall performance, but it also decreases order entry time and frees your staff up for high-value tasks, like building better relationships with your customers for continued growth.
2. Optimise Inventory Management
One of the most costly setbacks to a B2B seller is running out of stock with countless more orders to fill. Waiting for a new shipment can be detrimental to your company’s productivity, performance, and even its reputation. An order management system can help prevent such an event from occurring by automatically scheduling stock replenishments before a low inventory level.
3. Minimise Human Error
Manual order management consists of many error-prone steps, from order entry to delivery. Each stage of manual fulfilment opens opportunities for mistakes to be made. Order management software automates the entire process, eliminating room for human error that would otherwise delay the fulfilment process.
4. Reduce Customer Inquiries
While it is a vital component of any B2B business, customer service can quickly become a time-consuming, low-value task. An order management system can provide your company with a customer portal for checking order status and payment history. That way, buyers don’t have to pick up the phone to get the answers they’re looking for.
5. Centralise Real-Time Updates
Many B2B companies have multiple salespeople working across individual channels. It’s essential that these teams receive the same internal information at the same time. For instance, you wouldn’t want to promise the same batch of products to different buyers. Order management software provides your salespeople with real-time updates on things like inventory level, order status, and payment processing. That way there’s no confusion or mistakes throughout the process, even for long sales cycles.
Essential Ecommerce Capabilities
While order management is a vital part of any ecommerce business, it’s by no means the only function worthy of attention. In fact, modern B2B selling requires solutions that cover multiple areas at once, from account management to customer experience.
To learn more about order management and other essential ecommerce functions, download our eBook, 4 Must-Have Ecommerce Capabilities for Modern B2B Selling.