Order management systems overview: what does your business actually need?

Do you know that hard choice between a SaaS solution and a custom software? In our new article we have compared all features of different types of order management software to help you choose the tool that fits your business processes best.


When you started your online retail business, you imagined large orders and many returning clients. After a while you received a few purchases each day and you were able to manage the whole process by yourself. As time went by, your business attracted more and more buyers, the range of your products increased, and you started searching for the perfect assistant to take over the order management process.

This article was written to help you to choose the best order management assistant. We will compare all the available options, beginning with free online inventory software, up to custom solutions developed with particular business cases in mind.

Reasons to use an order management system


Order management systems don’t do anything that you personally, or your employees, can’t do. Instead, this software aims to optimize the working process, save you time and potentially a lot of money.

So, what processes does order management include?

  • Receiving and processing orders.
  • Packing and weighing the parcels.
  • Printing and attaching labels.
  • Delivery.

Somewhere in between, someone has to :

  • Track the inventory and make sure that all the products are available. This is essential if, for instance, you are selling via multiple channels, online and in the physical store.
  • Sync the current data with marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc.
  • Assign orders to the shipping location, if there are several of them.
  • And many other tasks.

These are routine tasks and a software system could be the best way to execute and manage them. It can perform all actions automatically, and moreover, it eliminates mistakes caused by the human factor. So, you’ll no longer be concerned by mistakes.

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Basic solutions for small businesses

Small businesses usually select ready-to-use software as a service (SaaS) order management systems, as these are inexpensive and likely to meet their requirements.

Many industry giants offer basic plans for small businesses. These plans usually include a limited set of features, and fit the demands of many companies.

InFlow, for example, offers processing of 100 products and customers free of charge. There are a limited number of built-in reports and a multi-user mode. Managing multiple locations, sales and purchase orders, and barcode scanning are also possible. Among the disadvantages - there are no integrations or synchronization available.

Zoho inventory service allows a limited number of orders to be processed, online and offline, all plans include several shipping labels. If you exceed the number of orders, the work doesn’t stop - you can just purchase another 50 orders and labels for a small fee. A multi-user mode and various integrations are available.

Order Desk is a good choice for small businesses. It charges a small fee for every order, which is quite attractive if you don’t have thousands of orders yet. Order Desk also offers a lot of integrations and very helpful support, which is important for non-techs.

Advanced inventory management services for enterprises

Medium and large companies have more complex order management requirements and many software companies are attempting to meet these requirements. Their pre-paid plans offer a variety of services for large businesses.

InFlow allows tracking serial numbers, access rights restrictions, and customization of printed orders and invoices.

With Zoho Inventory you will be able to give access to the software to an unlimited number of users, and manage these access rights. The restriction of a maximum of 30 000 online orders will suit even large business.

Tradegecko doesn’t have any restrictions for its enterprise users. It offers an unlimited number of orders, multiple warehouses, and integration with all existing services. The company also assigns a dedicated account manager to assist your company with the order management process.

Some inventory management service providers offer customization of the software according to the needs of each enterprise. But the configuration possibilities are still limited and sometimes don’t cover all the requirements of the business.

Custom order management solutions

It sometimes happens that some businesses require very specific features, which are not available in OMS systems.

If there is no solution that can perfectly suit the needs of your enterprise, why not build one?

Custom order management software has several advantages over the ready-to-use solutions, which makes it a smart investment for any type of business.

Precisely tailored software

All ready-to-use order management systems are created to be multipurpose. This means that these systems can be used by different types of companies that sell totally different kinds of goods and services to different markets. However, businesses that sell electronics, tourist trips and vegan food require completely different approaches.

Custom software is created with your particular requirements in mind. It takes all the specific processes of the business into consideration. The result is an application that is perfectly embedded into your workflow and requires minimum settings.

Take, for example, a company that sells some goods based on the consignment sales approach. Traditional inventory management software isn’t able to handle this complicated process, however the custom software can. It is possible to build a software system tailored for any business model.

Customizable according to your current needs

All businesses change, and therefore their requirements change as well. Sometimes it is not enough just to upgrade the pricing plan of a ready-to-use OMS solution. You will probably need additional features, such as new integrations, which are not available on your current service, a more complex user management, and so on.

Using custom inventory management software allows you to adjust the system to exactly meet your needs. If you believe that some features are missing, your development agency can implement it in a matter of days or even hours.

Similarly, if you know there are some features you’ll never use, you won’t see them in your custom software. You pay only for the features you actually use.

Software compatibility

You’ve decided to use an order management system on a tablet but there is only a desktop version available. You are a Blackberry user, and the company has released only iOS and Android mobile apps. You are addicted to Internet Explorer, and the OMS doesn’t support this browser anymore.

These are examples of the many reasons why you may hate the words “software compatibility”. If the ready-to-use order management solution doesn’t support your operating system, software version or device specifications your only option is to accept it.

The custom solution will be created with your needs and preferences in mind, so that you’ll never have to worry about software compatibility again.

Security concerns

If you care about the security of your data (and you definitely should), you probably doubt that any online service can guarantee this.

If you cannot trust your data to a third party, then a custom system is the right choice. It allows you to store data on your own server, to encrypt it, and to manage access to the data. You can choose the security level according to the needs of your company.

Custom inventory management software development process

The price of tailored order management software may vary according to the set of features you would like to have in your system. It is calculated based on the time spent on the entire development process.

A very basic version of an app is usually developed within 2-3 months, after which you will be able to start using it. The developers work in cooperation with the customer to implement the most important features, or improve the existing ones first, then work will continue until all features of the software are implemented.

Working with the software during the actual development process has another major advantage; it allows  developers to quickly discover weak sides of the software. New features can then be added that weren’t in the initial plan, and improvements to the workflow can be made “on the go”.  The real-time feedback from actual users and close cooperation with the development team will ensure an excellent result.

The costs of order management software

OMS for small businesses

Most leading software providers offer basic plans for small businesses at affordable prices. A free plan is offered by InFlow, which is pretty good for the beginner business. The free plans offered by Zoho Inventory and Order Desk are quite poor, but with a monthly subscription of around $20-29, these systems can bring noticeable improvements to your business processes.

  • InFlow - FREE.
  • Zoho Inventory - $29/month.
  • Order Desk - $20/month + 5c for every order.

Inventory management for enterprises

InFlow offers a nice set of features for a one-time payment of $799. Zoho’s professional plan costs $249. The most expensive is the enterprise plan offered by Tradegecko - $799 per month, which can be useful because there is no limit on the number of orders processed.

  • InFlow - one-time payment $799 + $199 yearly payment for the ongoing support;
  • Zoho Inventory - $249/month
  • Tradegecko - $799/month

Estimated costs of a custom order management solution

The cost of a custom application is calculated based on the time required to develop the software and the rates of the development company.

The following is a guide to the development rates charged for outsourced projects worldwide:

  • USA and Canada - $100-180/hour.
  • Western Europe - $50-150/hour.
  • Eastern Europe - $25-70/hour.
  • Asia and Latin America - $10-50/hour.

So, the price for custom software can vary significantly. A US-developed custom inventory management system may cost around $300,000. If you outsource the development to Ukraine, for example, it will cost you up to $70,000.

Technical support and any fixes or improvements are paid according to the rates.

Making the right choice

As you can see, the prices for using a ready-to-use solution and building a custom order management system differ significantly. So, when is it worth investing in development? Or is a ready-to-use system the correct solution for your business?

A ready-to-use order management system should be used if you:

  • Are just starting your business and not able to justify the expense of custom software development.
  • Follow the classical business model.
  • Don’t sell any specific goods or services.
  • Don’t need specific integrations.

It is worth investing in a custom order management solution if you:

  • Need a fully customizable tool with specific features.
  • Work with specific markets or follow a specific trading model.
  • Sell specific products or services.
  • Operate multiple stores and warehouses, especially when operating internationally.
  • Concerned about data security.

Order and inventory management software isn’t just about saving you time or money. It enables you to move your business to a completely new level. Improving the workflow and providing better customer service - this is the true aim of this type of tool.

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