How OMS is The Key to Improving Customer Experience
How OMS is The Key to Improving Customer Experience

Customers today know exactly what they want and supply chain issues directly impact customer behaviors. According to a PWC report, over 47 percent of Indian customers shopped at different retailers to meet their needs while 49 percent used comparison sites to look for availability before placing orders. In a market that’s constantly evolving, how can retailers hold on to their customers long-term? The short answer is by improving customer experience through an end-to-end order management system (OMS). 

India has the third largest online shopper base globally and customers expect a seamless customer experience especially when they shop online. While customer-facing e-commerce and retail platforms play the part of piquing potential customers’ curiosity, these sites are essentially built for merchandising and cross-promotions. 
An end-to-end order management system handles back-end order processing and provides a smooth delivery experience. Customers may not be able to see this process in action, however, successful order management is essentially what a pleasant purchase experience relies on.

The integrated order management system is key to addressing roadblocks that could turn customers away from a brand. Below are some of the many ways in which OMS can save the day:

Fulfillment Centers - Customers expect the availability of products and fast deliveries. Globally, over 60 percent of customers cast their preferred retailers aside if another brand offers better convenience and value. In order to stand out in a sea of competition and give customers a reason to stick around, retailers have to provide unparalleled customer experience, and order management systems enable that.

When customers place an order online, fulfilling them on time requires retailers to establish multiple distribution centers, dark stores, or alternatively, they can rely on in-store fulfillment centers. In-store fulfillment enables retailers to complete orders from pre-existing stores while also encouraging offline purchases. However, enabling this would require an order management system that systematically tracks offline purchases and online orders. 

OMS steps in where manual work falls short. It selects the closest fulfillment stores, checks for stock availability and store capacity limits, and estimates delivery dates. It also enables returns, addresses customer queries, and meets their needs, giving them quality service to rely on.

Product Availability - When customers buy a product in person, online customers shopping for the same product could face order cancellation or delay in delivery until retailers replenish the stock. According to a 2021 report from McKinsey, disappointing order experiences urged over 91 percent of Indian customers to switch brands.

Real-time inventory visibility is desirable but may not always be possible for larger retailers, especially when it comes to popular items that sell out faster. Combating this challenge with OMS is as simple as linking inventory systems with e-commerce channels or updating inventory positions using cloud-native scaling.

On the other hand, OMS can update slower-selling products based on the expected replenishment dates, giving customers error-free estimates and setting expectations that can be met.

In the event that the stock isn’t replenished on time, order management systems reroute orders and update the availability of products based on buffer stock availability. It empowers retailers to store and utilize previous details of replenishment orders against the DCs and use this information to predict the availability of products, resulting in well-informed and satisfied customers.

During peak sales seasons, stores could have the required stock but the order could go amiss during pick-up. In such cases, retailers can leverage OMS to reroute an order to another store after a certain period of wait time, avoiding a negative order management experience for the customers.

Dodging Damaged Products - A large portion of the effort in supply chain management is directed toward ensuring that products are packed, shipped, and delivered with no damage. While retailers can sell certain products at discounts and clearance sales, providing customers with damaged products could nudge them towards avoiding the brand entirely.

With OMS, retailers exclude damaged goods from online channel availability, informing customers only of the intact goods. This provides a window to the staff in DCs or stores to mark the orders in a different SKU (stock keeping unit) and exclude it from being shipped accidentally, avoiding customer disappointment.

Tracking Orders - Distributing new orders based on existing open orders at DCs or e-commerce fulfillment stores is crucial to ensure that products don’t run out of stock and that customers receive their orders on time.

Enabling this would require retailers to track the average number of orders against each store while taking factors such as store working hours, capacity, and stock availability into consideration to maximize their order fulfillment rates. OMS tracks and monitors this process without delays and errors.

Suppose retailers have constraints in equipment availability, meaning that they can ship multiple standard orders but may not be able to fulfill bulk orders that require special handling equipment. In that case, they can use their order management system to reroute orders to another store. This gives retailers greater control over capacity management and customers get their orders without delays.

Enabling Click and Collect - In 2021, 39 percent of Indian customers who experienced longer wait times than estimated, adapted to new ways of shopping. Customers are willing to go the extra mile to pick up their order from a nearby fulfillment center as opposed to waiting for their order as it is faster, eliminates delivery charges, and gives customers more control over their orders.

With retailers branching out their carrier options to match the needs of their customers, OMS can track and expedite deliveries, avoiding mixups in orders meant for click and collect and those that need to be shipped. Customers get pick-up details on their nearest e-commerce store or dark store based on product availability, empowering them to select the location as per their convenience.

Returns, Exchanges, and Appeasements - Despite precautions, retailers could have to manage late deliveries, delivery of wrong items, damaged products, and more. While this could lead to temporary disappointment, a disgruntled customer could be won over with smooth returns, appeasement, and exchanges.

OMS presents retailers with the opportunity to empower their customers by generating self-service return merchandise authorization or asking for an exchange. If dissatisfied customers call the helpline, OMS positions representatives to apply appeasements to the order, such as refunds, and fixed and percentage discounts, and provide customers with the option to access discounts online and in stores. 

Packing It Up

If there is one thing that the pandemic has brought to the forefront is that the shift in customer behavior is not linear, however, whether customers stick to the new behaviors depends on their satisfaction levels. 

So how can retailers stay ahead of the curve? Customer trends today are accelerations of past behaviors, but behavior changes are now more rapid, and retailers need to adapt fast. Order management platforms are attuned to handle a lot of data and processing, unlocking a world of possibilities for retailers to iron out roadblocks while customers need not worry about the background process that led to them receiving their orders. Relying on an order management platform that is flexible, customizable, and adapts to rapid changes resulting in a better customer experience is the way forward for retailers.

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