When it comes to order processing for your business, you want to streamline everything as much as possible. After all, an efficient business tends to be a more profitable business long-term. By focusing on a few benchmarks and being adaptable, you can operate a more modernized company that gets its product or service to the consumer quickly. Companies must be smart with their streamlining strategy.
Read on to learn 7 tips that will help you streamline order processing for your business!
1. Understand Demand
The order fulfillment process begins with understanding demand. You need to know what type of audience will be most interested in your product or service, who your competition is, and what expectations to set in response. If you underestimate demand, you will strain your supply chain, but if you overestimate demand, you could have too much inventory sitting around.
When you are determining how much inventory to have on hand, consider what territory you are covering. A business that leases trucks may want to limit its target customers to those within a certain radius, but an online store could ship products worldwide. Work with financial experts on your team to project how much product you need — and how that number will impact every part of the supply chain.
Know that you may get some items returned, which will affect demand. And there is a good chance you will also have to deal with damaged products or malfunctioning machinery. Have a contingency plan for your inventory in case you hit a snag so you can see minimal disruption in company operations.
2. Track Data on Order Processing and Fulfillment
Establish clear expectations on delivery and fulfillment timetables so that all parts of the supply chain are on the same page. And if one part of the process doesn’t meet expectations, address the issue immediately. Otherwise, you could see the problem continue.
You can track data and handle logistics using a number of different software programs. These programs will help you spot inefficiencies within your workforce. You will gain a concrete understanding of whether you are growing, stagnating, or moving in the wrong direction.
Upgrade to a digital platform to help monitor shipments, process checks, and more. Visit our Business section to find out how you can hand over the logistics responsibilities to increase efficiency. By making this change, you will have more time to look to the future and build strategic plans as a business.
3. Check Your Facilities
Is your facility adequate to handle the inventory you need — or are you running low on space? Do frequent reviews of your facility to make sure it has space to grow. And if it doesn’t, work with your team members to find the most cost-effective solution.
If your facilities don’t cut it, this will slow down processing. You may even want to look into having multiple warehouses in your region to help with shipping practices and access to inventory.
Consider how your warehouses are organized, too. There may be ways to adjust the layout so that the fulfillment process moves more smoothly. Have spaces that are reserved for receiving and make sure that the pathways to other parts of the facility are clear.
Keep all products labeled clearly and set up a system of labeling for the aisles that makes sense for the space. Prioritize the location of in-demand products so they are easy to access. And if you use the First-in First-out (FIFO) method, you will ensure that you move the goods that have been sitting around the longest.
4. Communicate with All Parts of the Supply Chain
To enhance the purchase order process, make a point of communicating with all parts of the supply chain on a regular basis. There could be problems or limitations that negatively impact the process. And you won’t know unless you ask.
For instance, you can ask if the equipment is sufficient to get the job done. While data might tell you when a truck or piece of machinery is due for maintenance, actual interaction with someone who uses that equipment will be far more revealing. You will be able to pinpoint areas of inefficiency and address them before they snowball into larger problems.
It is especially important to check in with your shippers. Track the delivery times so you know how your shippers stack up against the competition. And don’t be afraid to ask members of your business how they perceive the efficiency of other vendors.
As a leader, you will need to communicate that quality is one of your priorities. If the products and services are executed properly, you will save time for everyone as you move up the supply chain. Set up a calendar so you are making routine checks with all vendors you use.
5. Outsource Tasks to Help with Efficiency
Outsourcing also means embracing what technology and third-party vendors can offer your business. Using spreadsheets and clunky, antiquated ways of tracking order processing won’t help you become more efficient. Instead, you will be better off delegating responsibilities to third-party experts.
You don’t want to waste time trying to perfect every part of the order processing system. If you try to take on too much yourself, you will hurt your productivity and risk executing the job poorly. It is better to outsource these tasks so you can focus on the core competencies of a business.
You may end up saving money by outsourcing, too. You won’t have to pay for labor and additional facilities to handle all parts of the process. Just make sure you investigate any third-party companies to confirm that they are reliable and experienced.
And as another bonus, you will gain access to partnerships that can enhance your own knowledge base. If you are working with suppliers and shippers, you will be able to tap into their specialized skills and learn from them. In the long run, these connections may produce new innovations.
Don’t rush the process of finding outside vendors. It is easy to think that moving quickly is more advantageous, but you don’t want to end up with a new partner that is difficult to work with or inefficient. Set standards for shipping, product quality, and purchasing guidelines so that all parties are clear on expectations.
6. Make Placing an Order Easy
Another key step in making order fulfillment better is to make it as easy as possible for customers to place an order. If you require anyone visiting your website to create an account and jump through too many hoops, they may take their business somewhere else. Streamline the process and avoid too many preliminary steps.
Make the policies for your business clear, too. Can items be returned — and if so, what is the deadline? Can a customer cancel a reservation, and how can they reach you with specific questions about your product?
Set policies that are clear and easy to find on your website. You will save time upfront for the customer, and cut down on the logistical questions you may have to deal with down the road. Explain what shipping company you will use for orders, and be clear about fees related to taxes and shipping.
Also be sure that your web presence is compatible with mobile phones. Since so many consumers rely on the convenience of their phones to place orders, the last thing you want to do is turn away business because of a clunky mobile site. Address this issue quickly so you can capitalize on new opportunities.
7. Follow-up with Customers
What does order processing mean? It means seeing the order through from start to finish. And contacting customers is a critical final step in your effort to streamline order processing.
Don’t assume that your customers had a perfect experience. Use surveys, emails, and phone calls to gather more information about the successes and weakness of their experience with your business. You may not get the responses you want to hear, but you will get information that can be useful.
During the purchasing process, find ways to check in with customers so they know the status of their orders. Keep them involved in tracking their orders or shipments so they feel valued. It is the best marketing for future reorders, sales, and referrals.
If your customers use a shopping cart on your website, learn why they remove certain products before checking out. If you learn that the online ordering process requires too many clicks, for instance, you can make some changes. Ultimately, you will end up closing the loop on order processing with this key final step.
Streamline Your Process
Order processing is a critical component of running a successful business. When a customer places an order, you want to make sure that they receive the product they want on time. If one portion of your supply chain isn’t working, it can throw off everything else — so it is important to keep watch over everything.
With some small adjustments on order processing and supply chains, you can see some big results. For the latest tips on how to elevate your business to the top, please check out our other informative articles.