Ecommerce Order Processing Software: Tools, Tactics, and Tips to Delight Customers at Scale

Ecommerce Order Processing Software: Tools, Tactics, and Tips to Delight Customers at Scale

The purchase is only the start …

From click to customer, stands an ocean of challenges:

  • Aligning inventory and orders
  • Tracking fulfillment via third-party logistics (3PL)
  • Complex shipping schedules and order profiles
  • Reporting and analytics to identify weaknesses
  • International custom laws and costs

Many of these challenges can be traced back to an outdated or incomplete order processing system.

According to the Retail Systems Research survey of more than 500 logistics firms, suppliers and retailers worldwide, legacy systems are one of the top factors obstructing omnichannel execution, with 29% of firms naming legacy systems as their top challenge in 2017.

On top of that, there’s a lot of room for error when it comes to order entry, payment processing, fulfillment, and shipping.

For some, order processing software can be the only thing keeping your dreams from deteriorating into an enterprise nightmare.

boxStruggling with logistics at scale?

You’re not alone …

Recently Craig Morris — VP of Strategy and Domestic Product Management at DHL eCommerce — joined Maia Benson — Global Commercial Head of Shipping & Fulfillment at Shopify for a live event.

Discover how to ...

  • Select the right third-party solution
  • Manage inventory and multiple locations
  • Optimize shipping to give your company a competitive advantage

Watch the full event here

What Is Ecommerce Order Processing Software?

Processing ecommerce orders requires a multi-dimensional system that taps into a lot of different facets of how the business operates.

By way of definition …

Ecommerce order processing software is any tool or platform — normally run through a third-party provider — that automates how products find their way to the customers who bought them.

This includes inventory management systems (IMS), payment processing, warehousing (WMS), fulfillment, shipping, and logistics (3PL), order tracking and reporting, and return order management.

You’ve likely heard terms like order management systems and software or inventory management systems and software. Each of them has various ways of tracking orders and managing inventory but share the same objective: making sure a customer gets their order quickly, efficiently, and exactly how they want it.

Why Use Order Processing Software

I’m not going to sugar coat it: order processing software comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. Like most software, the best choice depends on your business needs. This takes a bit of soul-searching, but it’s absolutely critical to have in place in some form if you plan to expand successfully.

As order volume grows, you’ll need to have a standardized, methodical, and reliable system that ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.

When you have a working solution or software stack in place, you’ll experience faster fulfillment and delivery speeds, greater efficiency and optimized spend on managing your internal operations, and greater ease in integration with other platforms and business operations.

So it isn’t surprising that ecommerce companies around the world are looking to replace legacy systems with modern processing & fulfillment solutions. The 2017 E-Commerce Fulfilment Report, published by Peoplevox, revealed that 33% of merchants intend to improve technology and systems to scale their fulfillment in 2017.

Image via Peoplevox

Even if you simply just list out some of your company’s overarching goals, you’ll find that strong order processing software will probably play a direct role in reaching just about all of them.

When you’re trying to figure out the right one for your brand, consider factors and features like:

  • Inventory control
  • Multi-channel alignment
  • In-depth reporting and analytics
  • Volume forecasting
  • Purchase order (PO) generation
  • Syncing of multiple warehouses

Let’s dive into some tools and tactics to help you better manage order processing from your Shopify store.

Helpful Tools

Orderbot (Shopify Plus Partner)

With Orderbot, you can import orders from your Shopify store, send shopping notices, and sync inventory across several sales channels and websites. It can also process payments and update pricing and products in your stores, as well as consolidate orders that come in from multiple channels with clear fulfillment & inventory visibility.

The tool integrates with different accounting software like Xero and Quickbooks, and shipping providers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS. With a bit more customization, you can integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like SAPB1 and Netsuite Dynamics.

Freestyle (Shopify Plus Partner)

Freestyle Solutions offers an unbelievably feature-rich order management system. You’ll find everything you need to process and ship orders, manage inventory, track performance and issue purchase orders in one dynamic place. Its capabilities can expand as your back office needs increase over time, so you can scale your company more productively.

The tool comes with all the operational benefits of a cloud software, including frequent feature upgrades, on-demand scalability, and open APIs that enable seamless integration with third-party apps, without the burden of managing backend hardware.

TradeGecko (Shopify Plus Partner)

TradeGecko is a cloud-based order management software that combines all your sales channels, currencies and locations so that every order, customer, and product can be managed in one place. Even across multiple ecommerce sites.

The solution can also integrate with QuickBooks Online, Xero and ShipStation, enabling you to email quotes, create purchase orders, and send your customers a link to invoices with credit card payments integrated.

Over the years, TradeGecko has streamlined order processing for a variety of brands across several verticals. For instance, specialty coffee brand Pilot Coffee Roasters was able to make its order process faster and save time on managing orders using TradeGecko.

TradeGecko’s benefits are evident:

“The B2B platform gives us a great way to communicate with our customers. It also gives them the ability to order whenever they want, and easily see what we have in stock. On our side, it gives us awesome organization and an up to date product list, without having to spend much time updating it on the backend.”

Stitch Labs (Shopify Plus Partner)

Stitch Labs offers a robust inventory management system that centralizes sales, purchasing, inventory, and fulfillment to give you greater efficiency, insight, visibility, and control across your business.

With the functionality of Stitch’s cloud-based solution, you can more easily maximize revenue, reduce costs, and intelligently scale your multi-channel operations to meet customers’ demand.

The tool integrates with the top marketplaces of ecommerce. It works with all the popular platforms, such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy, as well as a wide spectrum of third-party apps. Retailers can also bring in external solutions like PayPal and Xero for payment, accounting, and more into the platform.

Shipwire (Shopify App)

Shipwire is a Shopify app that offers order fulfillment services via a SaaS platform that’s connected to fulfillment centers around the world.

All orders fulfilled by Shipwire are optimized for packaging, carrier, and warehouse location, which all happens at the backend. This helps merchants grow sales, expand into new markets, and delight customers by eliminating the hassles of storage and order dispatching.

Shipwire has fulfillment centers in Australia, Asia, UK, Canada and the US. It can efficiently identify, pack and ship orders to your customers quicker, and for less. Detailed reports provide you a bird’s eye view of your fulfillment status, so you’ll know exactly where your order is until it reaches the desired customer.

Order Desk (Shopify App)

Order Desk, also a Shopify app, is a hosted management system that enables you to view your order overview, sort orders into folders to keep track of their status, and customize each folder’s columns to get the details you need.

Its rules engine lets you create custom actions to be executed at custom events. For instance, the platform can be instructed to send a special email to a customer whose order total is above $1,000.

The tool connects to most other third-party apps as well. It offers integrations for over 30 services including Amazon, 3PL Central, Authorize.net, and Amazon. Users can process refunds, send their orders for fulfillment, or transfer shipping information to an external shipping software like ShipStation.

Pulse Commerce (Shopify App)

Pulse Commerce is a Shopify app that acts as a central dashboard for your omnichannel order processes, providing a real-time overview of products, promotions, inventory, customers, and orders across all your commerce platforms.

In addition, it enables shipping and fulfillment optimization by allowing you to ship from the ideal warehouse, which shortens delivery time.

The tool is purpose-built for Shopify merchants selling across multiple channels, including both B2B and B2C ecommerce websites, marketplaces, contact centers, brick-and-mortar stores, and mail order. Real-time visibility of omnichannel inventory reduces stock-outs and enables profitability reporting.

Duoplane (Shopify App)

Duoplane is a Shopify app that offers a complete order management system. Its dashboard displays key order stats, and highlights the products that require your immediate attention.

Merchants can manage shipments, keep internal nodes, issue return authorizations (RMAs), track returns, re-assign purchase orders, edit orders, and keep tabs on orders right in Duoplane. Tracking data flows back to your customer and to your ecommerce store.

The tool’s functionality also includes no-touch order processing. Once connected to Shopify, it automatically splits each order into vendor bought orders, routing them to the right warehouse or supplier. In addition, merchants can specify when purchase orders are processed (as orders come in), how their information is sent to vendors (FTP, SFTP or email), and in their preferred format (CSV, PDF, or XML).

Top Tactics for Growing Business

Having the right tools in place is an imperative step for successful ecommerce growth. But you should also have some strategies and techniques to help keep a smooth flow between the manual and automated aspects of your company.

Let’s take a look at a few key tactics that will keep your brand functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Study Your Software Data and Analytics

You can’t tell how well you’re doing without looking at the end result.

Your analytics capabilities will vary depending on your software, so before you make any purchase decisions, do some research to see if a product’s features match up with your needs.

To see if your order processing strategy is successful or needs a revamp, look for key metrics like:

  • Order cycle times: How long does it take your customers to receive their products once they purchase? Are they receiving them late? This can be a huge differentiator between a happy and a peeved customer.
  • Order error rates: What’s going wrong and how often does it happen? Look at various fulfillment stages, like picking and packing accuracy or orders shipped.
  • Return rates from error or damage: There’s a difference between a customer returning a product because of personal taste, and something you could’ve prevented, like shipping error or damage to the package.
  • Fulfillment cost per order: Consider expenses like indirect labor, supplies, communication, and shipping costs to see if you’re making the most of your resources.
  • Customer retention rate: What percentage of your customers are coming back to make another purchase? Low rates may be a result of the fulfillment process.

Weigh out these important benchmarks and make a plan for the metrics you can improve.

Image via Cerasis

Train Every Employee to Master the Software

Training can be demanding on time and resources, especially when it’s easier to assume that an employee won’t interact with the software because it’s not their main role or job description at your company.

But if an employee will come into any kind of contact with your order processing stack or even just your order processing system, it’ll be well worth the effort to conduct some cross-training across your organization. This way, everyone will be on the same page and an unexpected task or emergency won’t throw a wrench in your internal operations.

Automate as Much as Possible

One of the themes of this article as been minimizing the risk of error – especially human error. This is where automation is your savior. And if you’re on Shopify Plus, you’re in luck.

Shopify Flow is a first-of-its-kind automation solution that uses “trigger, condition, action” formulas to consolidate your front and backend workflows. It lets you improve the customer experience, manage your inventory and orders, tag and segment customers, and optimize tracking across all your channels.

For example, you can use the simple visual builder to create a formula based on when you’re out of stock on a certain item. Shopify Flow can automatically unpublish the product from the store, email the vendor to initiate a re-order, and notify your marketing team to suspend associated promotions.

Flow offers dozens of opportunities for ecommerce automation:

  • Automatically schedule sales in advance
  • Preload and publish new products across all channels
  • Automate employee discounts
  • Adjust checkout prices based on quantity or customer location
  • Flag internal security teams to high-risk order activity
  • Identify and tag customers based on shopping habits, like preferred channel
  • Optimize refund reports

Check out our list of 10 workflow templates that you can download for Shopify Flow.

boxStill want more on logistics?

Recently Craig Morris — VP of Strategy and Domestic Product Management at DHL eCommerce — joined Maia Benson — Global Commercial Head of Shipping & Fulfillment at Shopify for a live event.

Discover how to ...

  • Select the right third-party solution
  • Manage inventory and multiple locations
  • Optimize shipping to give your company a competitive advantage

Watch the full event here

Smooth Order Processing, Happy Customers

The most successful ecommerce companies have the right software, apps, and internal systems and team to manage the (sometimes insane) ebb and flow of their brands.

When you’re expanding, there’s no doubt that you’ll encounter some situations that will test how efficiently and reliably you can deliver top-notch customer experiences.

Don’t let order processing turn your ecommerce dreams into a living nightmare. Take control of the unforeseen and prepare for everything that expansion might throw at you with strong order processing tools and systems.

About the Author

Dan Virgillito is a storytelling specialist, blogger and writer who helps digital startups get more engagement and business through online content.

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