Successful implementation of an Omnichannel Order Management system (OMS) is key for retail brands who want to scale their brick and mortar operations in tandem with eCommerce on Shopify. An integrated Shopify Omnichannel Order Management System enhances the end-to-end customer experience on Shopify in a variety of ways.
Starting from the category page, “Store Mode” lets customers instantly find products available near them before they enter the product detail page (PDP), and shows detailed pick-up options for each product to streamline the buying process. An OMS also allows retailers to highlight express shipping when inventory is available at nearby fulfillment locations, like stores or warehouses. Finally, even if a product is out of stock, an OMS enables retailers to avoid manual listing and delisting of products for pre-orders based on future inventory in purchase orders.
Traditionally, implementing an Order Management System is a large investment and multi-year process that requires complex integrations between systems in your retail stack. Often, retail brands need to bring in consultants to create brand-specific strategies for data flows and responsibility assignments.
With our Shopify omnichannel apps, most of these complexities fade away. Pulling from our vast experiences implementing strategies for Shopify omnichannel merchants by integrating the HotWax Commerce OMS with their storefront and point of sale (POS), this blog will discuss best practices for integrating an Order Management System with Shopify in the most effective manner. These strategies will help Shopify retailers save valuable time and money that would otherwise be spent with an OMS consulting team, creating a custom implementation strategy with a hefty price tag.
An order management system has three core groups of data to consider when integrating with a digital commerce platform like Shopify: Products, Orders, and Inventory. A fourth optional piece is “customer information,” which is already part of the order data that an OMS downloads.
The first step of integrating a Shopify with Omnichannel Order Management System is to transfer your Shopify order and inventory data into the OMS. During initial configuration, your OMS should download all of your up-to-date, current inventory on Shopify. Once this occurs, your OMS becomes the source of real-time inventory data for your Shopify store.
Similarly, your omnichannel OMS will download all unfulfilled orders from Shopify, but you should have control over the amount of order history. After this initial download is complete, the OMS will only download new orders that are created in Shopify.
Below are the crucial pieces of product information that must be captured in your OMS:
- Unique identification (Shopify ID, SKU, UPC)
- Product Imagery (for rich user interface)
- Additional product info such as product name and features. Showing product imagery and clear product names across the interface helps increase the accuracy of orders fulfilled and creates a user-friendly experience.
Whether you’re exclusively using Shopify or a stand-alone Product Information Management (PIM) system like Akeneo, we recommend that your OMS always rely on Shopify for product info, simplifying the necessary integrations.
Product information should always flow from Shopify to your OMS, and the only product data in Shopify that your OMS should be able to edit is inventory data. Because product information doesn’t change nearly as rapidly as order and inventory data, it’s adequate to import product data into your OMS using Shopify APIs approximately every 6 hours. A common misconception is that updating product inventory requires the creation of new products upon every update, but this is not the case if you work with the right technology provider.
As new orders come in, they will be automatically downloaded to the OMS to begin their fulfillment cycle. They should be downloaded using scheduled Shopify API calls, and import frequencies should range between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the type of business. Webhooks are an alternative method to automatically import new orders. Unfortunately, they are not as reliable for real-time order syncs to efficiently fulfill eCommerce orders.
Any customer updates to an order (i.e. adding or removing items, canceling orders, changing shipping address, etc.) will be performed in Shopify and downloaded from Shopify directly to the OMS, alongside new orders.
As orders are fulfilled, the OMS will also update statuses in your Shopify. Order status changes should be pushed to Shopify using real-time API to achieve full transparency and visibility. Furthermore, you can use Shopify to send order update notifications to customers: as orders get updated, Shopify will send out configured templates to reflect order status.
If orders are canceled using an OMS, (i.e. a merchandiser uses the OMS to cancel an order due to over-promised inventory), Shopify will be automatically notified of these cancellations in the same API calls that update order fulfillment statuses. Your OMS should also offer a setting that lets retailers decide if they want to automatically refund orders that were canceled from the OMS.
3. Inventory Data
After an OMS is introduced into your tech stack, it becomes the one true source of real-time inventory for all systems that require user-facing inventory information (internal or external). From this point forward, Shopify should rely solely on the OMS for up-to-date inventory data.
Here is a breakdown of how inventory data is synced in different scenarios:
A. eCommerce orders
- Shopify will deduct inventory from the default eCommerce fulfillment location for all new orders. After the OMS imports new orders, it routes them to optimal fulfillment locations (stores or warehouses) and adjusts inventory levels for those locations internally. This ensures that customers get accurate store inventory when placing Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) orders. The OMS must also use real-time Shopify API calls to reduce inventory in Shopify from the actual fulfillment location and restore inventory at the default fulfillment location.
- BOPIS orders placed on Shopify will still deduct inventory from the default fulfillment location. Since these orders do not require routing, their inventory will be deducted as soon as they are imported into the OMS. After inventory levels have been adjusted in the OMS, the system will use the same APIs to restore inventory in the default fulfillment location and deduct inventory at the store selected for pick up.
B. POS orders
- When an item is sold in-store, Shopify POS will deduct its own inventory. Shopify webhooks should be used to deduct inventory in the OMS. Updating real-time inventory in the OMS is critical for accurate BOPIS strategies.
- “Buy In Store, Ship to Customer” orders placed from the POS will be imported into the OMS like traditional eCommerce orders. After import, like eCommerce orders, they will be routed, inventory will be deducted from the actual fulfillment location, and inventory at the default fulfillment location will be restored.
C. Returns and Exchanges
- Orders returned or exchanged to stores using Shopify POS should be imported into the OMS in real-time using webhooks, allowing new inventory to be used immediately for BOPIS or Ship from Store.
D. Receiving inventory
- All new inventory received from the POS or inter-store shipments will be added to the OMS first, and then sent to Shopify for selling.
- Inventory received into the OMS should be pushed to Shopify in real time with API calls to ensure that no potential sales are lost and inventory is leveraged efficiently.
E. Lost and found inventory
- Inventory that is reported as damaged or found during cycle counts will also be reported to the OMS first, and then updated in Shopify to make sure inventory is not over or under-promised.
- This inventory, like newly received inventory, should be sent to Shopify in real-time to make sure that no inventory is left unused and to avoid over-promising.
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We’ve found that these proven integration strategies help Shopify merchants create a streamlined flow of responsibilities and take their omnichannel strategies live as fast as possible. This doesn’t, however, mean that no custom development will be required from your Order Management System vendor. Starting from scratch, we’ve seen that it usually takes vendors at least three months to develop the required Shopify apps and complete end-to-end testing of all your integrations.
The HotWax Commerce Order Management System comes with Shopify apps that enable retailers to go live with Shopify omnichannel strategies in a matter of days, allowing them to execute on their BOPIS, Ship from Store, and pre-order initiatives faster. Request a consultation with the HotWax Commerce team of experts to learn how our omnichannel solutions can optimize your OMS integration with Shopify.