Managing the online ordering process, from initial order placement through fulfillment is a critical part of growing an eCommerce store.
It is also best practice to have in place post purchase customer follow-up to ensure that you retain loyal, repeat customers. Attention to detail in the sales cycle ensures greater order accuracy. Putting order management best practices into place gives you greater oversight and control over your ordering process.
The success of your eCommerce store begins with order management best practices, allowing you to manage your sales cycle and eliminate errors with customer orders and shipments.
One of the most common reasons for inaccuracy in ordering is incomplete information. Having all the information you need about the customer and their order up front eliminates the need to go back and ask for additional information should there be a question or problem with fulfillment. Plus, you'll have their delivery address and email address on file when you need it.
Once the order has been received, your automated inventory and sales order system should send a confirmation email to your customer. This is the next step in a check-and-balance system that ensures the order is accurate. In this email should be instructions on how to contact your store if the items listed in the email are incorrect.
Inventory tracking helps you determine when to re-order certain items and enables you to set a PAR (Periodic Automatic Replenishment) inventory system so you always have items on hand to fulfill orders. You can use a free tool such as our weeks on hand calculator however if you are an eCommerce business selling across multiple channels, this can very quickly get complicated leading to errors and inaccuracies. One system that processes orders and payments, manages customer profiles and spending habits, and tracks your centralized inventory streamlines the busywork of eCommerce.
Certain orders, such as return items, rush delivery, or VIP customer orders that include a special gift need special attention. Establish codes for certain special orders and train your staff to check each order for the presence of one. Set up a "tickler" that alerts you when a special needs order comes through so you can personally oversee it. Or, for larger eCommerce stores, have a customer retention team to ensure each special order has extra attention.
The easier it is for customers to buy from your site, the more sales you'll make. Part of the customer profile set-up can include a saved payment method. This way, when your customers see an item they want, they can pay with one click, and the item will automatically be paid for with their secured method and shipped to their address on file.
Another way to make buying easier is to accept multiple forms of payment. Some online retailers only take major credit cards or debit cards, which some shoppers are uncomfortable using online. Setting your store up to take payments from third-party apps like Venmo and PayPal and including payments from smartphone software like Apple Pay and Google Wallet increase your chances of making the sale.
The payment screen of your site should indicate the security of your site. Customers won't return to your site if their data and payment information is compromised. Include your security methods on the "about us" or FAQs landing page of your website.
You might carry similar items, such as white dishes, skinny jeans, or green t-shirts. Assigning each item from each brand a unique item number, or SKU, makes it easy to differentiate them in your inventory system and reduces the likelihood of sending the wrong item.
Adding a barcode to the SKU reduces errors in the picking process. Checking the order sheet's barcode against the barcodes on the items in your warehouse or storage area reduces both the amount of time to collect the ordered item and the chances of sending the wrong product.
Train your packers to be the last line of defense for shipment errors. They should also be equipped with barcode scanners to verify that the items from the pickers match what each customer ordered.
Add the barcode to the shipping label so that you and your customer can both track the order's travel. Once the order is shipped, your automated inventory system can send an email to your customer along with the tracking number. If you've invested in SMS alerts for your eCommerce business, then you can also send text alerts to your customers about the shipment status.
Set up automated emails which can be sent to your customers once they receive their order. Include information for them to contact you if there's an issue with the order, and make the replacement or refund process simple.
Building customer loyalty includes showing your best customers a little love. Your automated inventory system should show you which customers are ordering often and who your top spenders are. Establish a VIP program with special offers – and let your customers know that you appreciate them.
Some of your customers may order items on a regular basis. To ensure that you're getting those repeat sales, set up a reorder reminder email. If possible, personalize them with the customer's name. For those with VIP status, remind them of the bonuses they've earned.
Automating your workflow frees up valuable man-hours and reduces the risks of errors. Linking your inventory across different selling channels allows customers to see what you have in stock in real-time. Plus, with QuickBooks Commerce's inventory and order management software, you can also customize your own B2B storefront so that your wholesale customers can have the same experience as they would on your B2C eCommerce site.
Automation also allows you to forecast revenue, giving you a greater understanding of the purchasing patterns of your customers. Finally, automation can also help handle bulk orders or higher volume purchases.
Being able to streamline inventory management frees eCommerce store owners from the manual effort of updating their available inventory over several sales channels. Choosing an automated inventory system that updates your online storefronts in real-time eliminates any discrepancies in the number of items you have for customers on any one platform.
From the ease of placing the order to secure payment and responsible follow-up strategies, a centralized inventory system can help eCommerce businesses grow and develop a relationship of trust with customers that leads to repeat business.
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