Effective sales and order management is fundamental to running a successful business. Ensuring that you keep up-to-date with stock, what’s being ordered, what your customers want, popular trends and keeping your staff happy and engaged all comes into play in a smooth order process. There are a few ways to improve your order management, to save you time and to boost your efficiency.
1) Automate your processes
You may have heard a lot about automation and how it can improve your processes. In relation to order management, automation can replace manual entry of orders, which is prone to human error. So, when a customer orders something on your website, an automation will push that order straight into your pick pack and despatch process. This takes away any errors involved with manual keying in of orders and is excellent preparation for when your business starts expanding; whereas with a manual process you may have to take on extra employees to process the increased orders that come with growth, your automation prevents you from having to do so by scaling with you.
2) Focus on customer relationships
Prioritising your customers will help you to improve order management processes. Decrease returns and enhance order management by delivering personalised and memorable customer service, every time. Our advice is to use a combination of personalised marketing, such as exclusive Facebook Groups specifically for customers and downloadable CRM software to keep track of customer queries, questions and needs. Doing this will keep you informed of what your customers want and help to reduce issues with orders, improving overall order management processes.
3) Engage with your team
Make sure your employees are fully onboard and up-to-date in regards to your order processes, what happens when a customer orders something, how long it takes for orders to be shipped etc. If you’re introducing new software, or currently use software to help you manage your orders, then ensure your team have all the correct training, and know exactly what they need to do to keep the operation running smoothly.
4) Use forecasting
By using analytics on your business, you can forecast and predict orders that may come in from customers, or even just which periods are busier for you as a company and how much stock is needed to fulfil all the orders you may receive. By forecasting, you ensure you have the right amount of stock in and can fulfil the orders to keep your customers happy.
Using a system such as Google Analytics, you can hook up your business and monitor performance. Tracking increases your overall productivity and can make evaluations of products and processes simpler. So monitoring and analysing data on your business is a great idea.
5) Maintain supplier relationships
Supplier relationships (and healthy ones at that) are vital to a smooth order management process. Building up a good rapport and strong reputation with your suppliers can be helpful if something goes awry. Alongside this, when searching for suppliers, try and find ones that are on the same technological levels as you. Suppliers with software that’s compatible with your own (if you have an existing system) will take the pressure off and smooth out your processes.
6) Optimise your warehouse
Fast delivery is the cornerstone of online selling. Ecommerce sellers must have a warehouse setup that supports fast delivery and a quick turnaround from order processed to item shipped. Work smarter by shipping your items from warehouses that are closest to your customers. This means rapid delivery on the customers end and means you’re likely to stay on top of the competition. Just be sure to have an order management application that supports multiple warehouses, so you can update your stock in your different warehouses from anywhere.
7) Don’t be afraid of tech
If you’re an eCommerce seller that offers an in store experience for customers, invest in technology to better your order management and staff productivity. Providing staff on your shop floor with mobile phones or tablets can help in a few ways:
- Enable them to take orders remotely while talking to customers on the shop floor
- Means they can update stock levels (and reorder depending on permissions) whenever they notice certain items are running low
This tech should be compatible with your order management system so that it can update your inventory levels accordingly.
8) Offer flexible delivery
Evaluate your customer base to work out the best shipping method for your business. You need to be flexible in this, as your customers’ expectations as buyers may change as they move from one-time buyers to committed customers. Consider customers’ location, warehouse location, shipping time and cost to decide on the shipping method that will work for your customer base. You may find that as you grow and expand, your ‘best’ shipping method may be different for each group of customers. That’s fine, as long as it’s a sustainable order fulfilment method that benefits both you and your buyers.
9) Manage your inventory
Mentions of fast delivery aside, if your customers can’t purchase a product they see online, they’re not going to wait in line with your item on backorder, they’ll just move elsewhere. As mentioned previously, forecasting for busier periods where you may need more stock is important. Managing your current inventory may be a higher priority to forecasting though.
Keeping on top of your stock throughout your business year will solve many business headaches. Introduce stock ‘markers’ such as lowest reorder quantity, which notes the lowest amount of a certain item you need to be able to run a business smoothly. Figures such as this will ensure you never list an item out of stock or introduce back ordering to an item you normally wouldn’t, so you can keep a hold of both your customers and your competitive edge.
10) Evaluate your SLOB (slow moving obsolete items)
There is likely going to be stock that comes under the umbrella of ‘slow-moving’ in your current inventory. This is defined as stock meeting the following criteria: doesn’t get used or sold for long periods of time, is held for months on end without any budging and may soon be obsolete. When managing this stock, consider if it’s impeding the sale of your more popular items or causing problems because of the space it’s taking up. It may be long-winded and tedious at first, but getting into the habit of evaluating SLOB items as and when they appear will improve your order management significantly. It will free-up space in your warehouse to stock more popular items and will decrease the time and resource wasting on items that no longer offer any ROI.
11) Get an ERP solution
While the above points can be achieved with separate systems, you can do all of them, plus a lot more, with an ERP system. This comprehensive business management software would enable you to become a pro in order management, but also give you forecasting and tracking abilities, a CRM to control customer relationships, and would help with automating your order processes. This basically means one solution to improve your order management, as well as many other aspects of your business, and one additional cost instead of multiple.
Interested in getting a business management solution for your business? Khaos Control Cloud is the browser-based solution you could be looking for. With everything from order management to accounting, everything is covered in one software.