Multichannel Order Management Guide

One of the biggest challenges for business in today’s time and age is growing, expanding, and scaling up. This is because the more you grow and the more channels you expand to, the more complex it becomes for you to ensure the smooth running of your operations: you have to take care of more stock, manage more employees, and deal with a larger volume of orders. 

Without the help of an eCommerce multi channel solution, tackling multiple channels for your business can quickly become a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be! Prioritising your multichannel order management processes can help you make growing your business on different channels easier, and you can do this very conveniently with the help of a multichannel order management system. 

Want to learn everything about multichannel order management and it can be achieved with a dedicated order management system software in 2022? Then keep reading, because we cover all of that in this guide!

What is Order Management?

Multichannel order management is an extended, more advanced branch of order management. It is the process which helps businesses streamline their orders across multiple channels. With good multichannel order management in place, businesses can centralise fulfilment, shipping, inventory management, and order processing for their products across different online and offline selling channels. 

If you are single selling channel business, say, a brick-and-mortar store, expanding to other channels such as shopping platforms or social media selling can appear to be daunting. However, with enough understanding of multichannel order management and the right tools to help you implement it, it is easy to grow your business and take advantage of multiple channels for sales. 

Challenges of Multichannel Order Management

You know how they say without hard work, nothing grows but weeds? Well, that kind of applies to multichannel order management too. If we told you that it is a simple, straightforward procedure that doesn’t require your time or effort, we would simply be lying to you! 

The truth is, multichannel order management can be quite hard to achieve. As human beings, we already know that change can be hard. The same goes for your business; change, even if its for good, can be complicated to deal with. Think of it this way: bursting out of your single channel selling bubble means that you are opening yourself to greater opportunities; but also more work, more dedication, and higher stakes! 

There are quite a few challenges that you may encounter as a business when focusing on multichannel order management:

1. More complex inventory management

More channels mean more sales – which is perhaps the biggest motivation behind a growing business when it comes to expanding to different channels. However, it also means that you need to have more stock at hand, which in turn means that you need to up your inventory management game. 

Inventory management is an essential component of successful order management, and hence is an important part of ensuring the success of your business. Although it is a tough nut to crack even if you are dealing with a single channel, it can pose even more problems when you are selling across multiple channels. 

Selling on multiple channels means increased chances of overstocking, excess inventory, understocking, and other issues that come with stock handling and inventory planning. Not only that, but multiple channel inventory, if not managed properly, can lead to an increase of overhead costs, which businesses want to avoid at all costs. 

2. Intricate and high-maintenance order fulfilment processes

As any business would appreciate, the order fulfilment process for just one product for one customer is a highly technical experience. Now, multiply those technicalities by 1000 – that’s how much more intricate and high-maintenance order fulfilment for multichannel businesses is. Hence, aligning the order fulfilment process of each of your orders with the overall success of your business is yet another challenge associated with multi order management that deserves your attention. 

When you are dealing across multiple channels, you may not only have to deal with different fulfilment methods for each channel, but you will also have to take in account multiple factors and policies for each of the channels. If you fail to take care of this particular aspect, then the quality of your orders and well as your customer service mechanisms are bound to deteriorate to a great extent. 

3. More data to handle

This challenge may not become overly apparent for many businesses; but it can be a real problem. When you adopt the multichannel sales model, you have streams upon streams of data flowing in from all directions. Without the right mechanisms, this data will remain scattered and unorganised. 

This, on many levels, is a loss for your business. What must be remembered is that data empowers all departments of your business. For example, it can help you make your marketing and advertising campaigns more refined. It can help you implement a more targeted sales plan, as well as build a better purchase experience for your customers. In that regard, data is important when planning to expand your business. 

However, data is only useful when you can make sense of it. This is where the real complication comes because the more data you have, the harder it is to handle it. 

Overcoming the Challenges 

So – you get it: multichannel order management comes with its own set of problems. However, not all is grim and you can tackle each of the aforementioned challenges with a multichannel order management system!

Multichannel Order Management System

What is a Multichannel Order Management System?

A multichannel order management system can help you take care of all your stock, inventory, and order across different channels. Regardless of whether you are a brick and mortar store, or an eCommerce retailer, a multichannel order management system can help you expand into other channels without having to encounter any of the aforementioned challenges, and is the perfect multi channel shipping solution. 

Multichannel Order Management Systems: Key Features

However, in order to ensure that the multichannel order management system you pick actually contributes towards the success of your business, you must see if it offers the following important features and functionalities: 

1. Ecommerce Integrations

The first feature to check off when you are looking for a multichannel order management system is eCommerce integrations. For any business that is planning to grow, eCommerce integrations are important because they allow you to connect your order management solutions with all important eCommerce platforms. 

With these integrations, you can ensure a seamless workflow that is not hindered by unnecessary delays and discrepancies. Since these integrations are a part of your multichannel order management platform, you don’t have to worry about relying on a 3rd party to connect to an eCommerce forum of your choice. 

For example, Canary7 offers a range of eCommerce integrations such as BigCommerce, Amazon, and Magento. Not only that, but Canary7 also goes a step ahead to offer other important integrations such as Yodel and FedEx, which make multichannel order management easier.

The key is to look for a multichannel order management platform that helps you maximise your potential and sell your products on as many platforms as possible. The better your integration options are, the more likely it is that you will be able to achieve this and hence, integrations should be on the top in your list of integrations necessary for the functionality of your multichannel order management system.

2. Flexible Order Fulfilment 

Your main objective with your multichannel order management platform is that it should be a seamless, well-rounded order fulfilment procedure for as many orders as possible. For this reason, it is important to look for features and functionalities in your multichannel order management software that will help complete fulfilment procedures in the fastest and cheapest ways possible. 

Look for a multichannel order management system that helps you sync your fulfilment procedure with your inventory levels and warehouse activity. This way, it will be easier to ensure that all stages of fulfilment are carried out seamlessly and you don’t have to counter any major hiccups. 

One of the features of a multichannel order management system that can help you define the fulfilment process is automation. However, automation deserves a section of its own and we will get to that in just a bit. 

3. Multi-location Stock Handling

As already mentioned above, inventory management is closely linked to successful multichannel order management, which is why it is important for your multichannel order management platform to take into account inventory levels for all your products across different marketplaces. 

This will help minimise a great load of work for you, as instead of having to check stock levels for different channels separately, you will be able to have a holistic overview of your inventory activity across different platforms. 

With the help of a multichannel inventory management software that offers such features, you can easily stay on top of your inventory levels, which makes it easier to reconcile your orders with the stock available. For example, when you know exactly which orders you have in hand, it is easier to avoid taking orders for unavailable products and disappointing the customers after they have placed the order. 

4. Robust POS Solutions

Any good multichannel order management software will also offer you robust POS solutions. This eCommerce multi channel solution will help you manage brick-and-mortar sales channels as well as eCommerce sales channels by aligning them together. 

If your multichannel order management system offers a POS, eCommerce multi channel solution, it will be easier for you to offer your customer hybrid purchases such as order online, pick-in-store or click and collect options. 

So, if that’s the kind of thing you are looking to achieve with your business, you need to look for a multichannel order management system that can help you achieve that.

5. Advanced Data Handling Mechanisms

As we have already discussed, one of the biggest challenges that comes with growing your business and adopting a multichannel sales model is data handling. It is not always easy to handle data as it comes in multiple streams from different channels, and there is simply too much of it for you to easily make sense of it all, which stops it from being an effective tool of success. 

However, with the right multichannel order management software, you will not only be able to generate loads of useful data, but also handle and organise it properly, make sense of it, and use it in ways that actually contribute towards the success of your business. As a rule of thumb, look for a multichannel order management system that offers data-driven inventory management, forecasting, and planning, since these aspects can help you greatly improve your order processing methods as a whole. 

6. End-to-End Automation

One of the main things that make a multichannel order management system an absolute necessity for a business aiming to expand its operations is automation: with the help of end-to-end automation, you are cutting down on the total amount of time needed to complete the fulfilment process, as well as the labour and resources needed to execute it. 

With the help of the right automation tools, your multichannel order management system can help you scale your business in accordance with its particular needs. It also helps you create a better connection between the different components of your business, including but not limited to the warehouse, labour force, and of course, the inventory. 

As such, the right automation mechanisms offered by your multi channel order management platform can also help you reduce human processes and encourage speedy multi channel delivery instead. It can also help you improve order accuracy and direct the effort of your labour force towards other, more important things. 

7. Business Intelligence and Reporting

When you are looking to make your business grow, it is important to make choices that are not only backed by data but are also well-aligned with your business goals for the future. On top of it, your decisions should be made as quickly as possible, without losing any time. 

In this regard, business intelligence and reporting tools come handy. Look for an order management system that can help you put these business intelligence and reporting tools to good use which will help you make decisions that are not harmful to your operations and instead, contribute to the betterment of your business. 

8. Post-Purchase Metrics

For many businesses, the purchase journey ends when the order is shipped to the customer. However, this is not the case. In fact, post-purchase metrics are very important, and what the customer chooses to do after they receive the order may have an impact on your operations. 

For example, how many customers are returning the orders? How many are demanding a refund? What reviews do they leave? A good multichannel order management system will help you answer all these questions as well as enable you to improve your business operations in accordance with these aspects. An effective order management system is a good multi channel shipping solution, but it will always provide you with great features to tackle the post-shipping processes, so always keep that in mind. 

Tips for Multichannel Order Management

To ensure that you are using a multichannel order management software system to the best of its potential, we have compiled a list of tips. Understand these tips and use them whenever you can to make sure that the multi channel order management system you have picked for your business actually contributes towards your business. 

1. Customer or Order Segmentation

Customer and order segmentation is very important for effective order management, even if you have a robust multi channel order management system at your disposal. You must make sure that you are using your eCommerce multi channel solution to properly organise and segment all the orders you are getting from different channels, as well as your customers across these channels. 

Segmentation is also an important part of this. It will allow you to categorise different groups of your products to align better with different groups of customers. However, you can only do this if you have enough data on all your customers, which you can get with the help of your multichannel order management platform. 

Your segmentation can be based on a number of factors, such as customer address, order history, and shopping cart. The insights you get from our software in these areas will help you comfortably navigate your platform and get the information to implement better order segmentation.

As discussed earlier, integrations, reports, and the flexibility of your multichannel order management software matters, so you should pay attention to these features and put them to use for this.

2. Real-Time Order Processing & Tracking

In order for you to succeed in the art of managing your orders across multiple platforms, you must be in touch with your inventory and fulfilment processes at all times. Whether it is your stock levels or the shipment journey itself, it is useful for you to stay in track of every little thing that goes on in your warehouse so that you can ensure that the order fulfilment process as a whole is seamless.

A multichannel order management software that provides real-time order processing and tracking mechanisms will be of help. However, a huge part of this also relies on you; you should make a manual effort to keep on eye things as well. 

For example, even though your inventory will be fully automated, you should develop a process that involves you and your staff checking up on the stock every once in a while. This helps you ensure that there are no discrepancies, and will help you with better order management as will. 

By amalgamating the functionalities of your software with a little bit of manual effort from your end, you can fully optimise multiple processes within the fulfilment procedure. This includes the order placement, order processing, picking and packaging, shipping, multi channel delivery, and even the returns procedure. With the help of this, you get the right information and alerts, and make use of important details like when exactly is the order shipped, what are the estimated multi channel delivery dates, what is the current location of your products, and much more. 

3. Location-Based Warehousing

Warehousing is also an important part of order management. However, the placement of your products within the warehouse is not always easy to figure out and memorise. Therefore, you should focus on creating a system where it is easy for these products to be picked out by your picking person. Of course, a good multichannel order management platform will help you with this and you should make use of the features that will allow you to figure out where exactly the inventory is located in the warehouse. 

In this regard, look for software that offers barcode scanning and RFID tagging features will really help you. With the help of these, you will know exactly where your products are at any given time, especially in the warehouse. Not only will this accelerate your order processing and multi channel delivery times, but it will also make the job easier for your warehouse staff and order pickers. Of course, this is the best multi channel shipping solution as well, which is why you are looking to streamline your shipping processes from the warehouse, you should focus on this.   

4. Optimising Returns and Refunds

The process you have in place is for returns and refunds is very important; this fact cannot be understated. You must understand that your multichannel order fulfilment process is not one-way. It is equally important for you to focus on the returns policy as it is for you to focus on actually sending out the products. 

When there are multiple channels involved in the sales process, this becomes more complicated. However, you should not deprive the customer of a liberal and easy returns process; this is because customers really value the ability to return a product they don’t like, and will only come back to a company that offers this. 

With the help of your multichannel order management system, it will not be hard or complicated for you to create a process that makes it easy for your customers to return their products, so you shouldn’t be holding back from actually doing it. 

Summary

Expanding your business means tackling multiple sales channels, which is no easy task. However, if you choose to focus on multichannel order management, there is little that you can’t do in terms of impressing your customers and ensuring that your processes fit in perfectly with the customer experience you aspire to create. 

You can do this by investing in the right multichannel order management system: a software solution that offers just the right features and functionalities for you to create the perfect order management processes for your business!