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How to choose the best order management system (OMS) for your business

OMS, WMS, ERP, EDI…The world of order fulfillment is full of acronyms that often go unexplained. But when fast, accurate fulfillment matters more than ever before, it’s important for merchants to get to grips with the tools that will help to streamline the fulfillment process.

An OMS (Order Management System) is one such platform that has become indispensable in the age of “I need it now” shopping. When consumers expect near-instant gratification, your OMS is the key to coordinating an efficient flow of information throughout the fulfillment process.

In this post, we’re going to answer some of your biggest questions, like:

  • What exactly is an OMS?
  • Why is an OMS so critical to effective order fulfillment? 
  • How do I choose the right OMS for my business?

So without further ado, let’s begin!

What is an order management system (OMS)?

An Order Management System (OMS) is a software platform used by retailers and 3PLs to track, manage, and fulfill orders. An OSM ensures orders are processed effectively so they can begin the picking/packing process without delay.

An OMS helps to streamline the fulfillment process in two key ways:

1. By automating the more time-consuming and repetitive tasks involved in order processing.

2. By integrating with other management systems or selling channels for end-to-end visibility.

Let’s say that you’re an omnichannel retailer who sells goods across multiple channels. A well-resourced OMS can integrate with your selling channels to display orders through a single dashboard. It should also automatically adjust inventory levels in response to sales. This saves your team valuable time and reduces the risk of orders being lost or delayed by manual data transfers.

Furthermore, an OMS allows you to automate email workflows. Set triggers for key milestones such as order confirmation, shipping, and delivery so you can notify customers as their order progresses.

In sum, an OMS frees up more time for your staff to focus on improving processes to enhance the customer experience. Increasing efficiency and automating routine fulfillment tasks means more positive brand interactions and repeat orders.

How is an order management system (OMS) different from a warehouse management system (WMS)?

As fulfillment software grows more comprehensive, we’re seeing more combine an OSM and a Warehouse Management System (WSM) into one.

But while OMS and WMS are talked about interchangeably, they play different (though overlapping) roles within the fulfillment process.

A WMS controls activities within the boundaries of fulfillment and distribution facilities. This includes:

  • Optimizing storage strategies
  • Setting the material flows of SKUs as they enter/exit the warehouse
  • Coordinating the picking/packing process for faster turnarounds

An OMS, on the other hand, usually focuses on broader processes external to the fulfillment process, such as:

  • The routing orders to the correct facility
  • Updating inventory levels up to date across channels
  • Updating customers, vendors, and shipping carriers as fulfillment progresses

The benefits of an order management system (OMS) for your business

Centralization

This is one of the biggest benefits of having an OMS. Using integrations to condense order information into one place saves valuable time – both in order management and staff training. Moreover, you can get a comprehensive overview of your retail operation, such as SKU movements and historical sales data. 

Speed

Time is of the essence when it comes to order fulfillment. The longer it takes for orders to process and be allocated to a facility, the slower delivery is going to be. An OMS automates the process of choosing the fastest fulfillment method – meaning quicker delivery and higher customer satisfaction.

Accuracy

User error is unavoidable with increased technology usage. This is especially common during repetitive tasks that challenge our concentration. Removing manual processes ensures higher accuracy across each stage of fulfillment.

What to look for in an order management System (OMS) 

Seamless integration

Open API is the backbone of any powerful OMS. If an OMS can’t communicate with the other tools you’re using, this adds to inefficiency in your operation.

In addition to having an open API, it’s important that a prospective OMS also offers native integrations. Look for integrations with ecommerce platforms like Shopify or Bigcommerce to maximize convenience. This enhances the value of your OMS investment and makes it easier to coordinate your fulfillment operation effectively from day one.

Scalability

When looking for an OMS, you need to think about your long-term needs. Implementing new systems can be complex and time-consuming. So, you don’t want to have to switch OMS because your current system lacks the ability to handle an increase in order volumes.

Growth opportunities can arrive with limited warming (as COVID-19 can attest to). This can cause widespread disruption if your OMS isn’t able to keep pace. For this reason, it’s important to use your OMS as a strategy to future-proof your business.

Real-time inventory tracking

Real-time data is essential to pivot in response to changing consumer habits or inventory trends. If you’re forced to make business decisions on outdated information, this can negatively impact the customer experience. Up-to-date insights allow your business to be proactive about potential sales opportunities.

Multiple warehouse locations

As consumers demand faster delivery times, multi-node fulfillment has entered the forefront of logistics. This involves maintaining multiple facilities at strategic locations close to important transit networks. Brands can then allocate orders to the facility closest to the end customer.

For effective multi-node fulfillment, you need an OSM that’s capable of coordinating orders across multiple warehouses, better positioning retailers to meet customer expectations through quicker last mile delivery.

A quick recap: An OMS streamlines the fulfillment process through seamless integrations with other software, and by automating administrative tasks that consume a lot of staff time. This allows you to centralize important data and gain valuable insights from your sales channels in real-time. 

Finding the right OMS independently can be a big undertaking for many merchants, especially those who are newly-launched. Partnering with a fulfillment provider takes care of this for you by taking advantage of your partner’s in-house OMS for faster onboarding. By taking on a team of experts, you can get back to focusing on what matters most; providing memorable customer experiences.

Get in touch to see what we can do for you.

We help emerging and established brands deliver their brand experience.

288 Mayo Ave., City of Industry, CA 91789

877-901-6472

fulfillment@whiplash.com

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