When you work in a retail environment, you’ll recognise that there’s a lot of little steps to take before you get to the final transaction. There can be quoting, sales orders and invoicing. This can also be coupled with invoice-waybill, receipts, and customs declarations. These terms are used to make it easier for companies to keep track of their stock and manage their inventory control.
One of the basics to understand is sales quoting. Once you have a good idea about what this means, we’ll explain how the process works. We’ll talk about refining the process and making it accurate and efficient so it can keep your inventory control on track.
What is sales quoting?
Essentially, a sales quote is used when a prospective buyer wants to know the cost for a certain amount of goods or services.
Let’s say you used to live in London and you are moving to San Francisco. You might get a sales quote from three different shipping companies if you need to move a full container of furniture and household belongings around the world. They might give you a sales quote for a few different options — one might be fast shipping for a full container, whereas another option might take three months and cost much less. One might be the shipping price for half of a container that’s fast, and the other half of your ‘not-so-urgent’ belongings will go in a slower container.
Then you realise that you’ll need to move the items off the container when it arrives at the port in San Francisco. That company might be able to deliver it to your new house, but it’s worth getting a sales quote from a local company as well to compare the prices.
Since there are a variety of costs and conditions involved in shipping your belongings overseas, it’s worth getting a quote, or estimate, on how much this is going to cost from several companies. You might think you need a full container and then find out on moving day, you need more space. This is a scenario where a baseline quote was provided, but the final invoiced price will be different as you had 1.5 containers shipped instead of one.
How does the sales quoting process work?
As a business, it’s helpful to gather as much information as possible to ensure you can make an accurate quote. Online forms can be a great start, but a follow-up phone call can clarify any confusion in a swift manner. Once you have the information you need, use it to calculate an estimated cost. Propose this cost to the potential customer. They can either accept it, decline it, or use it as a baseline to shop around and compare with other places. If they accept it, then you can move forward with the sales order. The quote is converted and the customer will be invoiced on the agreed amount after the order is complete.
How to improve speed and accuracy of quoting?
Quoting speed can improve if there are automated tools on a website that help give base quotes. If you know you have three couches, four beds, two tables, a desk and 28 boxes, then a moving company can prompt you to enter this information to provide an automated quote. If you know the dates you want to the container to depart and arrive, you can populate those fields as well.
This automates the speed of the quote and allows a company to check with their inventory management software if they are containers available and shipments departing at that time. If your quoting system is connected to your inventory management system, this can significantly improve the speed of quoting. This also improves your accuracy. When the systems are connected, it allows for greater visibility of what’s in demand and if you can fulfil that quote.
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.