Many distributors face inefficiencies with order management and fulfillment. Unfortunately, many of their problems start with outdated technology.
The truth — and there’s data to back it up — is that outdated technology is the foundation for out-of-step workflows. Manual processes make everyone that touches order management and fulfillment work harder than they need to.
Are your customers starting to notice?
Sure, technology costs money, and your margins are slim. But there’s a cost to being left behind.
What’s getting in the way of efficient order management?
Order management refers to everything from receiving and tracking incoming orders to managing the processes required to fulfill them, to delivery and customer service follow up. For the wholesaler-distributor, this includes staff tasks, inventory visibility, order placement, picking, packing, shipping and returns.
Challenges to getting this all done in an efficient and error-free manner include:
- Large order volumes
- Inventory management
- Labor shortages
- Inconsistent pricing and discounting
- Supply chain issues
- Diversity of order sources
- Disjointed systems
- Customer demands for an Amazon experience
Outdated technologies lack integration and scalability, creating manual workflows and redundant tasks that serve as an anchor for distribution companies seeking growth.
Can order management automation provide the ROI you need to justify the investment?
What is Automated Order Management?
The way a company manages orders has an impact on how customers view them.
Order management applications track the data and processes associated with managing orders, including order entry, inventory management, after-sales service and fulfillment. They allow you to manage and view inventory, sales and customer data in one place. By automating with an order management system (OMS), a company augments their employee base, automates manual processes associated with managing orders, reduces redundant tasks and, as a result, reduces errors. Customer service reps and sales associates are able to focus on customer service and customer relationships.
DataXstream’s OMS+ reduces the steps required to process and track an order in SAP through automation.
For example, rather than toggling through multiple screens and systems to get a customer the information they need, OMS+ enables more efficient service with an easy-to-use interface. Behind the interface, OMS+ automates SAP processes and all transactions are handled in real time in SAP. That’s less time the customer must spend waiting to complete a transaction or get a quote. It also frees the distributor’s team to serve more customers.
The ROI of Automation
It’s true that automation solves the labor-intensive tasks that slow us down. But increasingly, industry leaders seem pessimistic about the ROI they’ve achieved from their digital tools.
IBM’s global survey found that few AI investments are delivering on the financial promise that stakeholders expect, at just 5.9% — well below the typical 10% cost of capital.
Does this mean the promise of AI-enabled automation is hype? IBM sought to understand the disconnect between what we’re investing in AI and automation and what we’re getting back.
But here’s the rub: IBM also found some companies are reaping 13% ROI from their technology investments. They discovered that these top performers were gradually improving their ROI numbers as the companies innovated their way to better use these tools. They wrote:
“Returns often stagnate while teams work out the kinks. Yet, as capabilities mature, performance can rise quickly.”
Top adopters of these tools had a steady, balanced approach toward AI that included better use of data and analytics, workflow changes and training their teams to adapt to the internal changes the AI technology requires.
Is there a way for the distribution industry to apply what we’ve learned from companies that have invested heavily in AI like Amazon and Netflix? How can we skip the learning curve around order management automation and get right to that sweet ROI?
How to Get Bang for Your Buck with Automated Order Management
There’s plenty of ROI found in order management automation software. The internet is full of case studies illustrating the benefits of these tools.
The benefits of order management automation include the following:
- Streamlines order processing, allowing you to respond to large, complex customer quotes quicker
- Provides real-time visibility into order status and inventory levels, ultimately improving customer service
- Increases a distributor’s scalability and flexibility
- Improves order accuracy by reducing manual input
- Improves employee experience and retention because repetitive tasks disappear
We’ve seen these results firsthand.
Our user-friendly interface requires minimal training, and the tool integrates seamlessly with SAP.
A case in point comes from our customers at Ultra Finishing Limited, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and distributors of bathroom products. After installing DataXstream OMS+, the company started transacting within a few hours. The ROI of implementing the OMS+ platform as reported by the customer included:
- 15% increase in sales
- 25% increase in customer satisfaction
- 50% reduction in in-house support for order processing
- 40% increase in order accuracy and input speed
Few AI-driven cross-channel order management automation platforms can provide this kind of rapid return on your investment. Where other distributors go wrong is in attempting to push a square peg into a round hole by trying to integrate an automated order management platform unsuited for their existing ERP and workflows. Not only is OMS+ created with industry needs in mind, OMS+ is highly configurable to meet your business requirements.
Adding a one-size-fits-all OMS technology to your existing systems creates integration issues that could last for months as you work out the kinks. DataXstream’s OMS+ product is purpose-built for SAP. This allows you to avoid costly and time-consuming integration. OMS+ is embedded and designed to transact in real time with SAP data. That’s why we received the SAP Pinnacle Award for Application Center Partner of the Year. OMS+ melds into your existing workflows seamlessly for faster ROI.
The key to finding the right order management platform is clear: Find the right tool that works within the context of your existing technologies. If you are an SAP customer selling across multiple complex or high-touch sales channels, we can help you automate, streamline and improve your entire sales and fulfillment process.
If you’re ready for real ROI in order management automation, DataXstream’s OMS+ is the answer. Find out more.