Efficiently capturing and processing orders is the backbone of your holiday retail business. It’s no secret that the order processing capabilities you don’t have can hurt you. Here are some all-too-common gaps in order management systems that can sabotage success.

Best practices department: order processing division.

The rising tide of orders generated during the holiday period puts maximum stress on your ability to fulfill customer expectations, whether those expectations are created by a catalog, web site, brick and mortar display, or other mechanism. (According to research by BigCommerce and Square, 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop on online rather than in-store, while 41% of Baby Boomers and 28% of Seniors will click to purchase.) During peak periods, about half of retailers increase their temporary staffing, which raises training and management expenses; almost half of businesses pay employees overtime, which is expensive and creates fatigue errors; and over a third reallocate staff, which requires cross-training and starves other departments of resources.

Retailers are fully aware that they must become more lean and flexible, building service differentiators that impress their customers Order processing is a key part of this effort because within order management are dozens of factors that dramatically impact efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

Let’s focus on three keys to order entry excellence:

Knowledge is power
Outstanding order management can only happen when you have a wide range of knowledge at your fingertips—and outstanding visibility to go with it. One comprehensive order management system (OMS) should be able to span all sales channels as well as live customer interactions. The OMS should have a full record of existing customers and their order history, supporting customer lookup by name, address, and other details. Customers should be taggable by type, such as wholesale, retail, VIP, special offer recipient, and even the shopping cart typically used.

When interacting with customers, CSRs should be working in an OMS environment that presents instant visibility to inventory so they know whether an item is in stock or not, its stock level, backorder estimate, and current estimated delivery date. CSRs should also know what related products and offers are available for cross-sell and upsell.

But one fact is inescapable. Knowledge is certain to be fragmented—or simply unavailable—when CRM and fulfillment functions are performed by separate systems. An integrated OMS is the best way to achieve consistency. For instance, Freestyle’s Multichannel Order Management (M.O.M.)  system manages eleven stages of order processing and shipping from within one comprehensive interface. It also enforces discipline, such as not allowing the order management team to move to the shipping stage before an order has been picked!

It’s all about workflow
Workflow starts at the moment an order is placed. Not only should the OMS system be able to process a first-time order from a partial SKU or a full lookup of the SKU number, it should also ensure that the order being processed matches what the customer expects. This requires flexible built-in tools to resolve inconsistencies by adjusting discounts, changing the item price, applying source keys for promotional offers, and more. A direct override capability should be powerful and flexible enough to ensure that any order can be modified to honor any promotion offered online.

When the workflow for order entry, warehouse processing, and shipping is fragmented, bad things happen. Disjointed, segmented processes result in slow execution, costly mistakes, poor staff productivity, and those twin harbingers of customer dissatisfaction: returns and refunds. In a world where “mispicks” cost an average of $38 each, achieving optimal accuracy and quality of service requires mastering both batch and manual workflows. An ideal order fulfillment system is flexible enough to span picking, packing and shipping by batch for increased speed, while also excelling at individual order management from a packer’s workstation to maximize accuracy and minimize returns.

Bottom line: the order management team should be able to input an order once and get all the information they need to process that order—including tracking numbers and shipping labels—from one place.

There are many other capabilities that drive efficiency and productivity. For instance, Freestyle’s M.O.M. system remembers batch processes and can repeat them automatically for faster execution and shipping. Another example: Freestyle’s “recent order” feature remembers the last 50 orders and customers, allowing CSRs to return to work on any of them instantly, thereby significantly improving productivity.

Doing everything well includes collecting payment responsibly
An OMS can be the deciding factor in making payment transactions smooth and safe. To maximize both efficiency and the customer experience, Freestyle executes credit card authorizations in real time, rather than generating a callback after processing the order.

Tokenizing credit card transactions (using customer and payment tokens generated by the gateway rather than actual account numbers) protects personal credit information and complies with PCI regulations. For maximum effectiveness and accuracy, authorized credit card transactions can be settled through both batch and individual processing.

Best practices advice for reducing fraud recommends the following abilities:

  • Client configurable settings to bar shipments to an address other than the billing address or at least flag the order for review.
  • Hold first orders, or orders over a certain amount, or orders for high quantity of an item for review.
  • Require the CCV/CVV number as validation.
  • Flag customers using many different credit cards.

There is much more that can be done to optimize order processing for holiday peak demand. Why not contact us to learn more?

M.O.M. has been actively refined by over thirty years of customer input. Today it stands as the most feature rich OMS solution available anywhere—uniquely capable of growing in any direction your business does by handling hundreds of potential needs over time.

Our myriad of useful capabilities—spanning the broadest spectrum from practical to advanced—is certain to brighten your holiday season! Please contact us!

Check out our series of videos on this topic and more, by clicking here!