Order management is a term used to describe business processes that encapsulate everything related to receiving and fulfilling orders – along with the necessary communication between you and your customers therein. A typical B2B order management process might look like this:
- You receive an order via your order capturing system, either from sales rep input or customer input online.
- An order confirmation is sent to the customer.
- Products are reserved and allocated to orders.
- The order is relayed to the warehouse where it will be processed while a back order is created for items out of stock.
- Dispatch confirmation is sent to the customer.
- Customer receives their order.
- Occasionally, tracking and managing returns, exchanges, or refunds need to be done as well.
It is important that B2B businesses have a reliable system to consolidate the tracking of orders, inventory, and deliveries reliably in order to ensure optimal customer satisfaction on this front and efficient business operations.
Problems that B2B order management faces
A few things stand in the way of flawless order management. A myriad of problems arise that B2B businesses either need to proactively prepare for, or have a reactionary plan ready. Ultimately, poor order management will see these problems slipping through and affecting business efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Something typical within the B2B sphere is that orders are large and expensive. This means that the buying cycle is usually longer, and mistakes cost much more. Imagine nurturing a lead for months only for subpar order management to risk that entire relationship within the closing hours of your deal. This risk is not a threat to order management itself, but it modifies the risks attached to B2B order management.
The size of orders affects other parts of a B2B business. There needs to be sufficient stock in inventory so that orders can be fulfilled. Orders are required to be managed well to ensure that deliveries are seen to. In the wake of an order, timely restocking of missing items in order to cater to other customers. Mistakes in this system can lead to downstream inconsistencies which can result in further issues.
B2B businesses receive orders from many different channels and maintaining business processes on many different channels can result in many more errors popping up. Keeping track of variables that are disconnected from each other increases the risk of inconsistencies creeping in when its consequences travel back to the core business. Online business piles more onto this when a business is not efficient, or systems are not updated across all channels.
However, things have become more digital, and regardless of online B2B, larger companies like Target and Walmart expect electronic data interchange (EDI). EDI allows businesses to exchange business documents and transactions between trading partners in a standard electronic form. These bigger businesses want your systems to talk to theirs which saves valuable time and money. Setting this up and managing it comes with its own issues though.
Finally, a growing cohort of younger B2B buyers are expecting B2B businesses to provide experiences similar to B2C businesses including stellar customer service, fast delivery, effortless navigation, and fast checkout.
How can things be better?
An omnichannel approach to order management combines all sources of data into actionable pieces of information that takes into account all of your channels. This decreases the amount of time required to go back-and-forth with customers – processing transactions, inventory management, and updating orders – ensuring that no matter where an order comes from, it is reflected everywhere.
The right order management system will keep track of orders at every step of the way and report on its progress. Customers like to be kept in the loop of how their order is doing. Being able to accurately track an order means that you can afford to be more transparent with customers about their order progress. Additionally, if customers want to make amendments to their orders, you are now better equipped to adapt.
A system that provides real-time (or at least up-to-date) information about inventory decreases the chances of a customer making an order for something that is actually out of stock. Additionally, the ability to make accurate judgements about when restocking is needed is crucial to not bog down warehouses with unnecessary stock and to not present customers with a “sorry, out of stock” message that will most likely lead them to competitors.
Enterprise resource planning software solutions offer various features that can help with inventory management, order management, financial management, purchases, customer relationship management, and logistics. This kind of software is not tailor-made for specific businesses and may often incur a cost for functionality that will go unused.
Cloud-based systems allow businesses to go paperless which saves quite a bit of money in the long run. Furthermore, it improves business efficiency since information can be sent over long distances in a short amount of time. Cloud-based systems allow access to data from any location and at any time. All aspects of order management are improved through the use of cloud-based systems once they are set up. Not only is this possible with your own warehouses, but also with those governed by third-party logistics providers, enabling centralisation of data.
Onsight’s B2B sales app provides one way to improve your overall order management process. The app covers the initial order entry part of the process. Give your sales reps a quick and easy way to capture orders from customers. You can sign up now for free here.