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Distributed Order Management

Stop the Sadness: Distributed Order Management Fulfills Customer Expectations

Distributed order management software gives you complete control. But if you can't see your inventory, it doesn't matter how great your DOM rules are.

There’s a blizzard coming. One of your two warehouses is directly in its path. Your nervous 3PL suggests you let your customers know they might experience delays. You don’t want to do that, and you keep taking orders.

Warehouse No. 1 gets 3 feet of snow and closes down for 3 days. When the 3PL employees shovel out enough snow to get into the warehouse, UPS is up and running, but FedEx isn’t. So only orders that were assigned to UPS start shipping out, and they’re already late. FedEx eventually comes back, and the 3PL workers slog through the backlog of your orders. Every single shipment is delayed. And no one has communicated any of this information to your brand ops folks, CX team or, especially, your customers.

Your customers start to reach out and say: “Hey, I placed this order 7 days ago. I haven’t received a tracking number. What’s going on?” That’s the moment where the customer experience starts to slip. It’s the first moment, but it’s a really big step, because instead of being proactively alerted by your CX team, the customer had to find out for themselves—when it was too late to make alternate plans. They wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t reached out at all. 

Did we mention this all happened in late December? Little Susie doesn’t get her doll in time for Christmas. This is sad for you, sad for your customer (Susie’s mom), sad for little Susie.

Stop the Sadness

Let’s look at the same scenario with a different twist:

There’s a blizzard coming. One of your two warehouses is directly in its path. Your nervous 3PL suggests that you let your customers know they might experience delays. Instead of panicking or pretending, you use ChannelApe's Distributed Order Management (DOM) software to route all your orders to warehouse No. 2 for the next week, and you alert your 3PL partner to prepare for the increase in volume.

Warehouse No. 1 gets 3 feet of snow and closes down for 3 days. No worries, as you’d already rerouted all your orders to warehouse No. 2, which is far from the storm. You did this with the click of a mouse, in just a few minutes. And when warehouse No. 1 gets back up and running, another click of the mouse can start rerouting fulfillment back to that warehouse until everything is back to normal.

Little Susie gets her doll for Christmas, and her mom is a happy customer. WooHoo.

What is DOM?

ChannelApe’s distributed order management software is designed to solve shipping problems by ensuring orders are fulfilled from the best location. This means if a customer in New Jersey orders a product, it won’t be shipped from California when it’s in a warehouse in New Jersey. 

The system also takes into account priority (how fast the customer wants the item) and capacity (how many items the warehouse can ship). The primary goal of DOM is to get the product into consumers’ hands efficiently, quickly, and cost-effectively. Ultimately, DOM plays a significant role in managing customer expectations and maximizing profit margins. 

The cloud-based software contains all the features of legacy order-processing systems, such as automated transactions, informing warehouse workers what to pick, etc. But it goes beyond that. The more sales channels you have, and the wider a geographic area you ship across, the more sense it makes to use DOM. 

“DOM provides complete real-time inventory visibility in one place, so not only do you know exactly what you have and where it is, but you can easily and automatically provide tracking data to your customers,” says Mike Averto, ChannelApe’s founder and CEO. “You can even promise customers a delivery date before they order. It all improves their ordering and shipping experience.”

With DOM, brands set their own fulfillment rules, such as prioritizing high-velocity warehouses over stores, limiting the capacity of popular locations, or designating locations based on item type. You can turn fulfillment nodes on and off, so if a location is unavailable, it is taken out of the system. You can set the system to prioritize some fulfillment nodes at different times of year to help mitigate weather conditions. DOM can even be programmed to make the most eco-responsible shipping choices in an effort to save carbon emissions. 

DOM Puts You in Complete Control

Your customer browses your website and adds two items to their cart. They click our favorite button—“Buy Now”—and complete the checkout process. DOM kicks in and automatically determines, because the customer is based in North Carolina, your New Jersey 3PL warehouse is the best location for fulfilling this order. But, oh no! Only one of the two items is in stock at the New Jersey warehouse. Never fear: DOM is here, and you have complete control to set up order routing however you see fit based on transit times, costs, and emissions. 

With DOM, you can either split the shipment to ship the first item from New Jersey and the second from Texas, or keep the order together, and ship both items from Texas. You have complete control to do what is best for your company and your customer.

Here’s something to consider: If you can't see your inventory, it doesn't matter how great your DOM rules are. The same is true for split shipments. If you have unplanned backorders, how will DOM or split shipments ever work?

Your current ERP or 3PL systems (e.g., WMS or OMS) are not built for DOM, so brands are stuck writing custom code in Shopify or their external warehouse management system. ChannelApe is the best place to input distributed order management rules because inventory visibility and control is at the forefront of our solution.

Curious how our brand customers do it? Schedule a call with one of our DTC experts today.

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