Less Human, More Computer: Is Online Ordering Really Where It’s At?

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In this day and age, everything is a race against time where processes need to be more efficient to generate more product in a lesser amount of time, meanwhile utilising no extra staff resources. How is this possible? Well, it’s possible through the automation of equipment and processes, which we can see is the trend in all sectors imaginable. A key point to remember however, is that with any automation or new adjustment to an existing process, it must be improved both in efficiency and accuracy otherwise it is in vain.

For a distributor or wholesale business, online order management is just this. A vast improvement on an existing process which benefits both the customer and the business. Here are a few benefits of making the switch to online ordering.

Tick, tock, tick, tock

How many times have you ordered something online where a clock is set to countdown a nominal period of time in which you are to complete the order? It can create a sense of urgency and can help instigate a decision in purchasing the product. Traditionally, if customers are ordering through a sales rep, they can listen to the spiel about the added value the product will bring to their lives, and then they can tell the rep they would like time to mull the decision over or they need to talk to a few more colleagues higher up.

Sometimes, the time spent investing in a potential sale (from the sales rep’s point-of-view) does not always translate into a sale and therefore revenue. All of this is removed with the introduction of the online ordering system. The customer can still access a live person should they require assistance, but largely their interaction is with the software program. In addition, where they previously had the opportunity to go back and forth on a decision, the online ordering system will reset after a period of time which helps to instigate a decision.

Global access

Unlike traditional methods which require interaction with a sales rep, a product line instantly accessible globally with online ordering. It is also accessible at any time, making it beneficial to inhabitants of all time zones. This means that two massive obstacles, which may have prevented potential customers from connecting, have been removed. Ease of use and convenience drive higher levels of customer satisfaction which, again, translates into more sales.

An added benefit of this is that customers can order a product as they think of it compared to historical methods in which, if they had the notion to order at 10pm at night, they would have to remember it for when they could access a sales rep in business hours. Again, this benefit may translate into more sales as every opportunity is given to customers to order a product the minute they want it.

Empowering customers

An online ordering system empowers customers through knowledge and independence as they are able to access vast amounts of information on any product, and they can do it themselves. The system can also share information about the stock levels of inventory stock which would normally be confirmed by a person. Additionally, by having an account where all their information is recorded, customers can access tracking information and even previous ordering information quickly and easily. As stated before, any process that aids customer convenience will equate to increased satisfaction and repeat business.

Reducing human error

The case used to be that sales reps retrieved the correct order information from the customer and then entered it into an email to the customer service reps who then processed the orders, requiring entering yet again into a database; this created at least three opportunities for error. With online ordering, the customer can take control of the whole process because at least two middlemen have been removed from the equation. Therefore, whatever data the customer enters is what is automatically processed by the system and will be what the customer receives.

Powerful information

The online ordering system not only empowers the customer but also the company by providing information on customer orders and satisfaction. Again, historically sales reps or company number crunchers would have to compile ordering information as well as any satisfaction survey answers to create a picture of the customer experience. However this is all taken care of automatically with the online system. Better information about the customer experience and ordering habits provides the opportunity for improvement, which increases customer satisfaction yet again. And all of this culminates in more sales, a loyal customer base and a successful business.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

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.

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