Order management can be a distracting and time intensive process, especially for small businesses with limited time to spare. That said, efficient order management and fulfilment is crucial to ensure that customer expectations are met. This is particularly the case with wholesale customers, where one poorly managed shipment has the potential to affect a large volume of future orders.
Many factors affect order management and fulfilment, including inventory control, lead times and carrier reliability. Getting these issues right should be a priority in your business. Once the ‘backroom’ of your wholesale business is working well, what more can you do to improve order management and fulfilment? One option may be to introduce an online ordering management system for wholesale customers.
What does online order management involve?
Online ordering allows your wholesale customers to raise and approve purchase orders and pay for orders online. Typically, customers are also able to generate procurement reports and analytics and download tax invoices through an online order management system. Let’s look at some of the key benefits of online order management.
Improved customer experience
While some customers value wholesaler assistance during the procurement process, other customers may find this inefficient. B2B customers typically know the products they are purchasing well and, in many cases, want to process an order as quickly as possible. Online ordering makes it possible for these customers to quickly procure inventory, while freeing up the customer support team’s time to assist customers with new or complex requirements.
Get orders right first time
Online order management is highly reliable, whereas manually processing sales typically involves a higher tolerance for error. Online ordering can reduce error frequency, ensuring that your business develops a reputation for efficiency and reliability. Low error rates also reduce the need for orders to be manually checked, allowing you to reduce lead times.
Manually processing orders is a labour intensive process, and can cost your business a substantial amount of money. Online ordering reduces the time spent initially processing orders, potentially reducing resourcing requirements in sales teams and saving your business money. Orders that have been placed online are easier to fulfil – labels, invoices and customer updates can all be automated based on information already provided by the customer.
Attract new business
By freeing up sales staff, online ordering also increases your company’s ability to pursue new business and retain key clients allowing you to grow your business faster.
Improve inventory management
The lag between an order being placed and the relevant stock changes being entered into an inventory management system is, on the face of it, not significant. Unfortunately, if your business receives an unexpected surge in orders, the time between an ordering being received and it being processed is likely to increase. Any delays can prevent you from taking urgent action to accommodate additional orders, such as ordering in more inventory or deprioritising non-urgent orders.
A major advantage of online order management is that as soon as a customer places an order, the relevant inventory is assigned to that order letting you know about potential shortages sooner.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.