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The Shipwire Blog/The Web Store and the Order Management Software, A Love Story

The Web Store and the Order Management Software, A Love Story

This is a continuation of my earlier post explaining why Shipwire launched a business inventory order management service.

We’ve noticed a struggle going on in the market.

Should a web store have to be an order management system? Should a growing merchant really have to buy an over-complex order management system early on in their business just to manage orders?

We think the answer to both of these is NO! We had to build order management and inventory systems because that is our business. If your business is selling, we don’t think you should be forced to invest in a “middleware software” just to route orders and get shipping rates into your shopping cart.

Let Your Web Store Be A Web Store, That is Hard Enough

Today’s online store software carries a heavy burden. Web Stores need to put just enough information in front of the buyer to get the sale without confusing the buyer and scaring them off. It sounds simple enough; but, as the data involved gets more complex, this seemingly simple task gets harder and harder.

The trick is that the information required by the buyer is not always readily available to the online store. The store software likely has the product description and images readily available. Pricing too. However, depending on the complexity of the web-store, some data can be tough to get in front of the buyer correctly.

Inventory data and shipping rate data are great examples of data that can get really complex really fast! Both these may be no problem if your goods are all in one location and flat-rate tables are good enough. However, what if you want real-time inventory and shipping rates in your shopping cart? What if you are juggling inventory in multiple locations and shipping rates from multiple carriers? What if you are selling some products overseas; but, not others?

As your business inventory and shipping becomes more complex, managing it all inside the Web store software may be asking your Web store software to go a little too far. Without a doubt, some packages have extended their feature set in interesting ways to help overcome this problem. Some are extending their product catalog data to include “product location.” Others have created the idea of a “supplier” or “supplier” systems.

In reality, you may be ready to let your Web Store be a Web Store and start looking for an Inventory Order Management System to help off-load some of the complexity.

The online store that plays the best with all your other business systems is the one that will win your business heart and mind. Similarly, the inventory and order processing system that knows how to cozy up to your Web Store software may be a nice match.

Multi-Channel Order Management Software, Should Know Its Place

At its most basic an order management system, or OMS, is a software system used for order entry and processing. Retail companies use OMS to keep track of orders from customers, stock level maintenance, packaging and shipping.

In online sales, order management obligations may be split between the web-store and the OMS system. For example, the web-store may take the first steps of the sequence such order capture, order validation, fraud check, and payment authorization. Many web-stores work in conjunction with an inventory order management system to understand inbound inventory coming from suppliers, backorder management, Pick, pack, ship and associated customer communications. The OMS system is where you will likely find the workflow processes and preferences that the web-store system relies upon to correctly display inventory availability and shipping options before the buyer checks out. The OMS system will also inform your Web-store of order processing status so your buyer knows where the product is in the pick, pack and ship process and what the carrier tracking ID is.

When you start thinking about juggling “multi-channel sales”, the power of an OMS system becomes more obvious. Multi-channel sales can include “traditional channels” such as a retail store, online marketplaces, catalog, phone orders, and Kiosks. They can also include a growing list of “indirect” sales-channels like affiliates, your network of resellers, drop shippers, OEM resellers and in some cases multi-level sales channels. If you think that is complex to read; wait until you need to optimize sales through all these channels and you need to ensure your inventory is up-to-date and no order gets lost. This is where the strength of a multi-location aware Order Management System can be pretty amazing.

[Note, there is a natural progressing here to talk about the hand-off between an order management system and an Inventory and Warehouse Management System (WMS). Because Shipwire Anywhere includes a basic business inventory management system. I’m going to skip this for now. Look for it in another post later.]

The Web Store & The OMS, A love story

If ever there was a compelling love story for a growing sales business, it might just have to be the Web Store and the Order Management System.

Like any great relationship they are going to have their common traits and their differences; but, when the two come together and they know what the other wants and is capable of…Woo Baby! Watch Out!

If Dr. Ruth was an e-commerce expert, she might break it down to the following.

  • You shouldn’t need counseling to make it work – OK, you need to substitute “systems integrators” for counseling. But, you get the point. Your order management system should connect to your shopping cart with cost and hassle. (Shipwire shopping cart compatibilities)
  • Communication is key and even the hardest things like real-time shipping rates, shouldn’t be a hassle – One of the hardest things to make work when you have inventory in multiple locations is getting the right shipping rates in front of the buyer at the point of checkout. Your OMS system should help your shopping cart by logically displaying the inventory locations and the ship-from rates for those locations. The trick is that your order management system needs to know where all your inventory is located.
  • When it works well, you will save a lot of money on shipping. Shipping rates should be optimized based on your business rules. Your Store and OMS system should be able to tell you what carrier will be the lowest cost to get the package to the buyer.
  • It’s all about the Inventory, get the inventory numbers right – A good OMS system is going to know where your inventory is located and how to route the orders to it. A great order management system is going to take into account work flow rules such as, routing to the inventory closest to the buyer.
  • Know what is coming and going – This is key for back-order management and Keep track of what inventory is coming into the warehouses and when. Your Web Store should know what inventory is scheduled to come in so that orders with proper shipping rates can be closed. When the inventory a

The Dr. Ruth analogy was a stretch. The point is, your Web Store and your OMS system should work together to drive your sales goals. It needs to be a relationship with great communication. We hope you agree!

Shipwire Anywhere is ready for you to use. Sign up for a free trial, create a location, tell us what inventory you have and plug it into your shopping cart.

Shipwire Anywhere helps you:

  • Add non-Shipwire fulfilled products
  • Define locations and get orders in one dashboard
  • Send inventory to new locations
  • Receive orders and manage routing
  • Process and ship from your location
  • Automate customer communications

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