Order Processing System Changes to Fulfill Orders Faster

Johnny Marx
July 9, 2015

Order processing, or the workflow in which customer orders are picked, packed, and shipped, is one of the most important functions in a wholesale distribution business. Order processing and fulfillment speed is a huge component to customer satisfaction, and making sure retail store shelves are always well-stocked is critical to maintaining healthy sell-through rates. In many cases, wholesalers looking to speed up customer order processing will look to their warehouses and distribution centers, and the process flows in place there––how they organize and track inventory, how their warehouse staff goes about picking items for shipping, and how their packing process looks. While these elements are important, however, order processing systems can often be improved simply by looking a little farther back in the order to cash process––how order information is taken down, submitted, and transferred.

Order Processing: 3 Ways to Make an Impact

1. Provide access to inventory levels.

It’s no secret that backorders slow down order processing and increase costs. One way to effectively improve order processing, therefore, is to prevent backorders from occurring in the first place. One of the best ways to do this is to provide access to inventory levels––both to the reps as they're placing orders during store visits, and to customers who may be placing orders on a B2B eCommerce portal. When they know exactly what products are in stock and what’s unavailable, sales reps can sell more strategically, steering the conversation towards other products. Customers can look at alternatives on their own if they’re shopping on your B2B e-Commerce store as well. This simple step can mean orders shipping faster, and more orders shipping complete.

2. Digitize order writing and automate order submission.

The bottom line is, an order can’t be picked and packed if your warehouse doesn’t even know it exists. If an order is taken down by a sales rep, and it takes a few days before that order is communicated to the warehouse, you’re leaving money on the table. Nine times out of ten, this order submission delay can be attributed to outdated paper-based processes like paper order forms, fax machines, and manual data entry. When you add up the time it takes for the sales rep to write up an order on a carbon paper form, find a fax machine, send it to the back office, and then have customer service or data entry personnel try to decipher the handwriting and type in every SKU and line item, it can be a significant number of days before an order even reaches your warehouse. By automating the order writing process with mobile sales order management software and having those orders automatically sync with your back office systems, you’ll completely eliminate those days wasted on tedious, 1980s-style tasks, as well as the risk of human error (and its associated costs) throughout the process. It’s also important to note that by submitting orders digitally on an instantaneous, rolling basis, changes to inventory levels will be recorded in real time (as opposed to having the data trapped on pieces of paper). This, of course, will contribute to fewer backorders, which we already know to be a good thing.

3. Consolidate order information from multiple channels.

If you’ve implemented (or are planning to implement) an omni-channel sales strategy that allows your customers to place orders through multiple channels (i.e. with a sales rep, with a native mobile app, and through a web portal), it’s critical to consolidate all of that order information. By having all of these orders in one centralized location, you’ll not only be able to get a holistic picture of your customer base and comprehensive sales reporting, you will also be able to process all of your customer orders in the same way. Do you have other ideas to speed up your order processing systems? Let us know in the comments.