You may have some systems and processes that you've outgrown, but just haven't had the time or resources to address. If you're like a lot of fast-growing businesses, your order fulfillment process could be very high on that list.
When you first opened your doors, you may have been able to take orders, grab the inventory, and box up the product yourself. Today, you have more incoming orders than you and your team can handle. If you're still using the same process that you did back when you were a one-person operation, you may have a serious problem.
An inefficient order fulfillment process costs you time, but it also costs you money. If your process is stuck in the past, it's time to make some improvements. Here are five surefire signs that you need to address your order fulfillment process:
1) You're sending out too many incorrect orders. Incorrect orders happen, but if they happen too frequently, you could lose your customers' trust. You also may be losing money as you send out new orders to correct the issue.
Maybe your sales reps and customers are placing incorrect orders, or your team is inputting the order information incorrectly. Either way, you need a more efficient order entry process.
2) You have customers calling to check on order statuses. These calls are a waste of time for both your customers and your staff. Your customers want to have faith that their order will show up in a reasonable amount of time after they place the order. If they're making a phone call to check the status, this means you haven't met their expectations.
There's a lag somewhere in your process, either after the order is placed by the customer or sales rep, or in getting the order to your shipping department. An improved process can iron out this kink. Learn more about how sales rep software can improve customer relations.
3) Your sales reps are placing orders for items you don't even carry. If you have multi-line reps, this can happen from time-to-time. In their haste, they confuse your products with someone else's.
Couldn't you make their job easier. Do they have to carry around your catalog to get product information? Are they forced to call or email you for current inventory status?
4) Everything comes to a halt when your "order person" is out of the office. This is common in a growing business. When you were small, one person probably stepped up to manage order fulfillment. While that may have been good enough at the time, it's inefficient now. You can't have your entire process revolve around one person.
The key is having a system that offers transparency to everyone involved in the process. That way, even if your key person is out of the office or unavailable, the business can still continue.
5) You're using paper. Are you still shuffling through stacks of printed orders? This is the biggest problem for many growing businesses. You keep every record in paper form. Then whenever there's a question or you need to access an old order, you have to dig through files and files of paperwork.
Put an end to the paper madness and start using the screens and reports that are already available in QuickBooks. An online order entry system that automatically creates orders in QuickBooks can help you keep everything in digital form.
Have you experienced any other growing pains with order fulfillment? Share your stories, concerns, and questions with us in the comments area! We also encourage you to take a look at our order management system to see if it would be a good fit for you. If you experience any of the problems above, you should request our free demo below.
Photo Credit: Wiertz Sebastien via Flickr