Ecommerce order fulfillment requires a lot of moving parts. Your online store must connect with solutions that can process orders in real-time. You need a combination of robotics technology and employees to pick, pack, and load packages onto trucks. Fulfillment teams need reliable carriers who can ship and deliver orders to customers. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, while most retail and eCommerce businesses put extensive thought and energy toward getting products out the door, they can forget a critical aspect of fulfillment: inventory management. As a result, they wind up with backorders, delayed order fulfillment cycles, dead inventory, and sunk costs.
However, flexible order management systems can solve this problem in a few distinct ways. Here’s how.
An order management system is designed to track customer orders as they pour in. But it also has the ability to keep tabs on inventory levels as orders are placed. Often, these features are localized to a specific warehouse, fulfillment center, or store.
However, with an omnichannel order management system, you can view your inventory organization-wide. As a result, you can restock your inventory more strategically to make sure you never run out of popular products. And if you find that certain locations have more than they need, you can ship products from there to keep your inventory at a healthy level.
If you run an omnichannel operation — selling products in your stores and online — you may decide to segment your items by channel or allocate a certain amount of inventory to each location. In many cases, this is a smart move, because it creates a logical flow for your fulfillment center employees.
It can lead to problems if you don’t have an OMS in place, though. If you happen to run out of a certain product on a certain channel, your customers may be left waiting for back-ordered items. You can also wind up dealing with confusing fulfillment processes if you need to pull inventory from another channel or location to meet the demand.
On the flip side, an omnichannel order management system can track your inventory availability by channel, enabling you to restock exactly what you need, where it’s needed most. With a solution like Radial, you can also leverage predictive analytics to forecast the amount of inventory you’ll need for each channel in the future. No more guessing, and no more stress.
Like channel availability, it’s important to know how much inventory you have in each location. But unlike channel availability, location availability is much less flexible.
As a result, when products run out in the fulfillment center nearest a customer, order cycle time will increase, either because the fulfillment team is waiting on items to be restocked or products have to be shipped from further away.
Luckily, order management systems can solve this problem by helping you keep track of your inventory levels in real-time. And with predictive analytics features, you can plan more effectively for future demand. Altogether, this means better order fulfillment now and months into the future.
Ultimately, you can’t sell products if you don’t know what you have on hand. That’s why the inventory management features of an omnichannel OMS are so valuable. They allow you to see what’s available in every corner of every fulfillment center and store. This makes it possible, and easy, to restock your inventory as needed and spread overstock around your organization to minimize the risk of dead stock and lost money.