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Paul Rogers examines one of the fashion industry’s major challenges.

Omni-channel order management and fulfilment is one of the major issues faced by many professionals working within the global fashion supply chain.

With eCommerce platforms providing 24/7 access to your highly efficient and functional web store, consumer expectation is higher than ever. Customers demand convenience and on-time delivery, and it’s up to you and your employees to ensure that your customers receive the best shopping experience possible.

An increase in the demand for consumer satisfaction means that retailers need to have smooth order management and fulfilment processes, whilst also having a greater insight into stock. Putting these three ingredients in place can help you exceed customer expectations – but are your order management processes currently being achieved cost effectively and efficiently?

Reducing the costs surrounding order management and fulfilment

You invest heavily in business systems and applications to provide you with the platforms to achieve specific goals. Your online shopping cart enables you to increase your audience reach, makes your store accessible 24/7 and increases company revenue. Your fashion Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system manages your financials, sales, customer data and stock. They are excellent at fulfilling the tasks that they have been carefully selected to do. The only downside is that they frequently work in isolation.

Having an eCommerce web shop and accounting system that work independently means that data such as orders placed, customer payment details and inventory levels remain solely in your eCommerce platform. This means that your employees have to manually extract and rekey this information into the ERP system. There comes a point where you need to ask - is repetitive bi-directional data entry an efficient use of time and resources?

To successfully meet customer expectation your entire order management process needs to work flawlessly. This can be achieved by dynamically pushing and pulling data between systems in real-time. Here are some key indicators as to when the fashion supply chain could require improvement around order management:

  • Repetitive bi-directional data entry between eCommerce and accounting/ERP systems
  • Duplicate entries and other administrational errors
  • Misplaced orders
  • Delays in order fulfilment
  • Decreased customer satisfaction
  • Increased returned goods
  • Incorrect product listings

If you are experiencing any of the above pain points (and there can be many more), it could be time for you to improve your order management and fulfilment processes. Manual administration tasks within these processes strain cash flow; orders hit back-office operations and trigger out-of-stocks, and can also generate order backlogs and duplicate entries. As a result, customer satisfaction can decline.

How to improve these processes

Having business systems that can ‘talk’ to each other will improve efficiency, eradicate errors and reduce operational costs associated with order processing. Data integration and synchronisation between a fashion focused eCommerce store, accounting/ERP system and warehouse management solution resolves the lack of connectivity, enabling you to eradicate process bottlenecks and improve the visibility of data.

This integration provides:

  • Automatic synchronisation of eCommerce orders to accounting/ERP software
  • Synchronisation of orders by telephone and other offline methods
  • Automatic transfer of online payment details and transaction IDs to an accounting/ERP system
  • Automatic order placement with a selected courier service(s)
  • Automatic updating of an eCommerce solution with ‘complete’ or ‘shipped’ status when invoice or delivery has been created in an ERP/accounting solution
  • Synchronisation of real-time stock levels/product descriptions from the accounting/ERP solution to an eCommerce platform
  • Automatic creation and distribution of PO requisitions when an order depletes inventory below agreed levels
  • Distribution of real-time business notifications (email/SMS) – special items ordered, low stock levels

Integration and its associated automation of business processes brings people, departments, external trading partners and information together to provide relevant data when it is needed most. Picture an environment of less administration and no more bi-directional data entry, no more manual monitoring of multiple business systems and a stream of real-time information – a seamless and error free order to fulfilment process. This allows business growth, ensures lower overhead costs and enhances customer satisfaction.

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