Order Entry: Why You’re Doing it All Wrong

By
Johnny Marx
August 27, 2015

Are you a wholesaler or distributor? How are you entering your sales orders into your back office system for fulfillment? Do you have a customer service team or dedicated data entry team in your back office, manually typing and transferring orders into your ERP? If your answer is yes, it’s time to take another look at your order entry process. To be honest, the problem doesn’t lie in how your team is entering orders into your back office systems. The problem lies in the fact that they have to enter orders manually into your system at all.

Order Entry: An Extension of Order Writing & Submission

So what do we mean by this? Well, let’s take things a couple steps back. Why is there a need for order entry in the first place? It’s all about how your reps are writing and submitting those orders while they’re in the field. Maybe they are writing those orders on paper order forms, PDF order forms, or Excel spreadsheets. Maybe they’re calling the orders in over the phone, or emailing them in. All of these seemingly disparate order writing methods have one thing in common. They’re manual. Manual order writing creates a whole host of problems when it comes to the submission and order entry process:

  • Every sales rep’s handwriting is a little different, with some of it downright chicken-scratch. Say your back office team misreads even one letter or number in a SKU, resulting in the wrong product getting shipped out.
  • If reps are still using fax to send orders in, blurry or illegible text can cause similar problems.
  • There’s also the issue of submission delays. If your reps not only have to write the order down, but also have to take the extra step of submitting it to your back office for fulfillment, it’s likely that you’re going to see some delay in submission, which then translates into delays in shipping. Think about all your reps who wait until the end of a busy week to submit all their orders at once.
  • Manual order writing doesn’t scale. Say you have a great trade show, with a couple hundred orders flowing into your back office in one go. Your team then has to scramble to get all of those orders into your system, and the order entry could take days.
  • There’s also the very real issue of resource drain. There are huge opportunity costs associated with your team’s time getting monopolized by data entry. What could they be doing instead to actually drive revenue and provide better customer service?

The Alternative to Order Entry

Perhaps this is no surprise to you at this point, but there is a better way. Digital order writing allows your reps to write their sales orders on a mobile device like an iPad. The product catalog and customer database are stored in that device, allowing the rep to create an order in just a few taps. What this ultimately means is that the electronic order can be approved, signed by the customer, and instantaneously synced with back office systems over the internet. Once the back office team sees the electronic order pop up in your ERP, fulfillment can start that day. We’ve spoken with wholesalers who are able to pick and pack an order within just 15 minutes of when it was written using this method. In summary, when using digital order writing, the order can be written, received by the back office, and shipped, without any extra steps in between. No more messy handwriting, no more delays. Pretty awesome, right?