Sales Order Apps Should be Simple

By
Mandy Movahhed
October 2, 2014

Apps have made a tremendous difference in how we conduct our daily business. Some apps have become second nature to us – we use them without giving them a thought. Others we use occasionally, or because they're mandated. Some apps we never adopt because while initially they seemed like a good idea, in the end they weren’t compelling enough to use. Utility is important in the design of an app, but so is simplicity.  Apple, for one, spends incredible amounts of resources ensuring that the user experience helps people gracefully adopt a product.

What Simplicity Means for Sales Order Apps

For sales order management apps, the goal is to solve a few discreet issues: eliminate duplicate processes and greatly reduce the use (or abuse) of paper. Sales order management apps must achieve the core objective of making a sales order easy and automated while adding a level of features and sophistication that support the sales order process. Sales take place on the road, so a connected mobile experience is a table stakes requirement, allowing the customer and sales rep to maximize their face time. It's also important that orders be processed electronically and immediately, headquarters and customers are kept in the loop with correspondence, and inventory information is available to the reps in the selling process. The sales order process experienced through an app must be intuitive, streamlined, and clean. While sales order management can involve numerous features, there is a point when ancillary functionality clutters up the simple usability.

Developing Sales Order Apps with Simplicity in Mind

Software development requires that the makers of apps evaluate feature choices with a keen eye, finding the optimal mix of feature-richness, but not at the expense of making the user experience more complex.  Here are a few principles that guide the selection process.

Do it right

In an article in Smashing Magazine, Dave Feldman writes that user experience design is essential to a product’s success. “Beauty is wasted when our products don’t address real user needs in a usable manner….perception is subjective: The product gets uglier if it fails to meet user needs or becomes confusing.” To be successful, an app needs to do one thing and do it well. Scot Finnie, Editor of Computerworld, notes this in an article he penned last year. Keep your focus, he says, adding, “It's far too easy to go feature crazy, which could wind up derailing your project later in the process. Brainstorming is good; let the ideas flow. But when you have exhausted that process, pare the ideas down to the best one or two.”

Focus on what sales order management needs

Sales order management is about enabling the sales relationship to take place with the least amount of distraction. That means enabling a fast, seamless sale. A sales order management app has to be developed for two customers: the buyer and the seller. By designing the system to be easy for the buyer and seller; the time they spend together can be more about the value of what the sales person delivers the customer and less about the transaction. Sales order management platforms must be strong in a mobile environment, able to satisfy the customer for self-service ordering, and be able to integrate with ERP systems to deliver their full benefit.

Make it easy to use

Writing a sales order has to be intuitive. It must feel familiar and should not be a distraction to the sales person and customer. It also must encompass a range of expected functionality, from order writing and interactive quotes to barcode scanning, customer lists and territory management. The balance between functionality and ease of use is tricky. The best apps accomplish one thing very well and are easy to learn and adopt.

Simplicity and SaaS

Whether to prioritize utility and simplicity over a more feature-rich solution is a decision many companies face when evaluating their sales order management technology needs. While an internally built customized solution including specific features unique to your business needs is a direction some brands opt for, it's often the case that the amount of time and product expertise that is required to build such a beast is severely underestimated. The beauty of going SaaS for sales order management is that you are offloading what is likely not your core competency and are able to rely on product development efforts that has been informed by best practices and repeat customer interactions. And if the SaaS provider did it right, that means a simple and intuitive order writing experience, great tools for order management, and integration to your core business systems. If you have thoughts on what simplicity means in sales order management technology or are struggling with determining your specific feature needs, let us know in the comments below.