Closing a sale can feel like the end of a long struggle, a time to sit back and celebrate. However, as a savvy eCommerce operator, you know that securing the order is just the start of a longer process. You still need to deliver your product in a way that keeps the customer satisfied and sets you up for another sale down the road. This dynamic makes order management a crucial element in growing your eCommerce business.
Beyond its value as a marketing and customer-service tool, an efficient order management system can lead to important operational gains as well. Data show that online retailers pay out an average of 70% of their order value as the cost of fulfillment. Bringing down those expenses lets you improve margins and boost your bottom line.
The benefits of improving your order management system are obvious. A more difficult consideration comes from methodology. How do you get the most out of your upgrade? Here are seven strategies to elevate your order management process:
Start with the Order Process
Remember: filling an order is just another part of an ongoing process. To get the best results, start from the first contact with the customer. Maximize efficiency even as the original sale is executing. After all, many of the hassles associated with fulfillment can be sidestepped by properly organizing the procedures your customers use to place an order.
Make prices transparent, avoiding frustration and disagreement down the road. Also, establish a firm line of communication about shipping dates and other logistical issues. At the point of sale, you have your best chance of managing expectations.
In addition, use technology to streamline your order processing system. Consider options like a punchout catalog to upgrade your platform. You can make the procedure for booking an order more efficient and customer-friendly, setting the stage for a better fulfillment experience.
Stay in Communication with Your Customers
As we’ve noted, communication should start at the ordering stage. However, that shouldn’t represent the last time your customers hear from you. Provide regular updates as you process the transaction, keeping your clients current about the order status.
Maintaining a firm line of communication is crucial to bolstering customer satisfaction. According to one study, 69% of purchasers said they would be less likely to place a repeat order with a business if the delivery did not arrive within two days of the promised date. As that evidence shows, keeping promises and setting achievable expectations matters as you look to hold onto customers long term.
Upgrade Inventory Tracking
Maintaining a detailed and accurate inventory is a key component of the order management process. This can pose a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, keeping inventories lean helps bolster your margins. On the other, you need to have sufficient product in stock to avoid delays and to keep customers happy.
A poorly managed inventory system can spill over into customer-facing parts of your business. One report showed that 34% of businesses were forced to ship an order after its promised time due to insufficient stock. These delays can cost you customers.
In order to avoid these problems, put in place a computerized inventory management system. Let software track your stock in real time. This will make it easier to keep a sufficient amount of product on hand for any circumstance, while still staying lean and profitable.
Processing orders quickly allows you to reach maximum customer satisfaction. Speed is of the essence. One study showed that 38% of people shopping at an ecommerce outlet will cancel their order if they won’t receive delivery in a week or less.
Deliver a fast turnaround by adding automation where you can. This includes automated messaging, to keep purchasers up-to-date as to the status of an order. It also involves automating your fulfillment process as much as you can.
Have Quantitative Standards of Success
You can’t get better if you don’t know how well you’re doing. It’s easy to talk about concepts like “fast delivery” or “quality service.” However, putting those into action means having firm numbers associated with those ideas.
Create quantitative benchmarks to meet as you run through the order process. These could include things like timeline and expense projections, letting you know how fast and how expensive each stage of the process should be. Meanwhile, issue quantitative customer service surveys after each order. This will allow you to track satisfaction, and pinpoint areas where you can improve.
Having quantitative benchmarks comes with a natural corollary: you need to gather statistics to know whether you have reached expectations. Collect as much data as you can about every step in the process.
From the moment a customer arrives on your website until the product arrives at their location, you should be compiling numbers. Once you have the information, you can mine the data for insights about how to improve.
Don’t Forget About Customer Service
Don’t spend all your time thinking about products and processes. You also need to improve the softer side of the business, making sure your customers feel good about their purchases.
Your customers are people, and how you treat them will help determine whether they come back to you with follow-on orders. For that reason, a focus on customer service should be considered an important element in your order management considerations.
Order management doesn’t just describe the logistical process of delivering your products to customers. In the broader sense, it also defines your connection with the people supporting your business. By upgrading various aspects of the process, you can improve your brand and increase your ability to keep clients for the long term.
About Author: Samantha Wallace is a veteran tech writer and editor who has worked in several eCommerce companies. She has been covering technology online for over five years. She is the Content Advocate for Greenwing technology.