Order fulfillment software automates the time-consuming tasks of warehouse and inventory management, order picking and processing, and shipping and tracking. People make mistakes, and while no software is perfect, it is generally more accurate than manual processes.
This isn't a "nice-to-have" option and the effectiveness of your order processing system can literally make or break your business. As the author of Entrepreneurship notes:
In today's real-time, online society, customers demand speedy and accurate order fulfillment from their vendors. Long gone are the days when consumers and businesses were willing to wait indefinitely for ordered goods and services and also to tolerate mistakes. If you operate a small business and want to be competitive in the marketplace, then investing in an optimal order fulfillment software system is a prudent investment to make.
Your order fulfillment software should offer systems that easily integrate with your existing information technology (IT) infrastructure to provide seamless and secure, easy-to-access, detailed, real-time, on-demand reporting on where and how orders are processed throughout the supply chain.
Order Fulfillment Package Capabilities
Every vendor has its own twist about why its software is better than anyone else's. You want to be able to:
- Create new orders
- View, search, and edit existing orders
- View inventory
- Forecast inventory levels
- Receive inventory alerts (e.g., low stock levels, out-of-stock notifications)
- Check and verify returns
- Integrate with your Web-based shopping cart or other customer ordering system
- Manually enter orders as needed
- View invoices
- Run reports
- Receive email alerts on order status
Order Fulfillment Software Comparison
Here are five of the top order fulfillment software packages and some key features:
- Real-time order entry/fulfillment
- Google apps integration
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
- Integrates with QuickBooks platform
- Wireless barcoding system for warehouse inventory
- UPS/FedEx integration
- Credit card and shopping cart integration
- Free trial
- Real-time updates
- Modular, easily customizable
- Customer loyalty program
- Digital distribution
- QuickBooks integration
- Real-time order entry/management
- Back order management
- Free trial
- Up to 10 users/inventory locations
- CRM system
- Free trial
This list is by no means exhaustive. There is no one-size-fits-all package (although vendors typically offer customization to varying degrees). Your individual needs will largely dictate which order fulfillment software is best for you.
It almost goes without saying that price is a big consideration. Another is your existing IT infrastructure -- you want something that is going to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems. Another thing to think about is modularity, that is, how easily you can add capabilities as your business expands.