1 Exploding Online Sales Using an Effective Order Management System The customer is always right. This is an old maxim, and maybe even a little cliché, but there s still some truth to it. While it may not always be applicable, it s at least something worth taking into consideration. When running any business, your customers should be your number one priority. Perhaps a more accurate maxim would be, The customer should always be satisfied. Keeping your customers happy is your company s main job. And the way to achieve that with an online retail business is to make sure that your customers orders are processed efficiently, ship promptly, and arrive quickly, with as little hassle as possible. This is called order management. The Importance of Order Management Good order management is essential to the success of your company. It encompasses every aspect of a sale, from the moment an order is placed to the moment it arrives at the customer s door. In the interim, there s also shipping, inventory, processing payments, and a number of other factors that all need to be taken into consideration. It can be pretty overwhelming, no matter what the size of your company is, or how many orders you need to process. That s why one of the most important tools your online company can have is an order management software system. An effective software system can streamline the entire process of dealing with online orders, putting everything you need in one place, from taking payments to printing the correct shipping labels to keeping records of the transaction. With a software platform, every step can be performed quickly and easily at the touch of a button. But an effective order management system is more than just convenient. If used properly, it can actually improve
2 your business and explode your online sales. Here are a few ways order management can work for your company. Multi-Channel Management One of the keys to success in business is to be where your customers are. These days, people have a myriad of different options for where to buy the products they want: from Amazon to EBay to Half.com, and many more. Not to mention more specialized marketplaces like Etsy, or Barnes and Noble. And where your customers are buying, that s where you need to be selling. Whatever your products are, it s important to set yourself up in all of the various online venues where your customers are most likely to find you. If you have stores set up in each of those places, though, you also need to be able to keep track of them all, in order to fill all of the orders your customers are placing. Tracking that many channels at once, though, is a huge job, and can be overwhelming. It takes a lot of effort to be constantly monitoring each online store on which you re selling, and it s often time-consuming to go to each of those stores individually and fulfill all of the orders placed from there. Not to mention the painstaking ordeal of gleaning the customer and product information from each order, from each website, and importing it into a centralized database in order to keep track of inventory and other factors. That s why you need an order management software platform. An effective order management system is one that can keep you connected to all of those different outlets from a single, unified portal. The system imports orders automatically from each individual site into a centralized location, making it easy to track and fulfill more sales from more places without getting overwhelmed. You should also have a clear and straightforward way to monitor your inventory levels for all of your different products across all of your different channels. If you re selling
3 Functions of Order Management System Your order management system needs to be able to handle currency adjustments as well, managing and monitoring multiple, international versions of the same site, and of course, processing orders from each individual country and its website. the same product on more than one website, the inventory is all still coming from the same place. Which means you also have separate inventory records that need to be updated whenever a particular site makes a sale. If you have a good order management system, the inventory numbers can be updated automatically across the board, based on a sale from an individual outlet. That way, each of your other outlets automatically gets the memo of the change, and you can avoid running the risk of overselling. It s also important that you be able to adjust your prices across all of your different channels quickly and efficiently, with a single action from your order management portal. In addition to multiple channels, sometimes a single channel has multiple websites for different locations around the world. Amazon, for instance, has separate international sites for the U.S., Canada, the UK, and a whole host of other countries. They allow you to sell your products across all of their different sites from a single account, but some individual adjustments need to be made, such as setting a price based on all the different forms of currency. Therefore, your order management system needs to be able to handle these adjustments as well, managing and monitoring multiple, international versions of the same site, and of course, processing orders from each individual country and its website. Speaking of Amazon, in some cases you may be using their Fulfilled By Amazon option, wherein the customer buys the product from you, but it s shipped directly from Amazon s own warehouses, by their staff. This will affect your inventory differently, and doesn t require you to go through any shipping procedures, but even so, you still need to be able to keep careful track of it using your Order Management System. When your order management software platform allows you to integrate multiple online stores into a single, central portal, that means that you can handle taking and shipping orders from more stores at one time, with less hassle. You can greatly expand your company s reach, selling your products in dozens of different outlets while still only having to keep track of a single location. You can even ship to customers all around the world without a problem. This means more customers are able to search for your products online as well, giving them a wider availability. But at the same time, you re still able to keep careful track of each customer and fulfill every order. When you increase your reach like that, you ll also increase your sales exponentially, even while the work you do to process them all ends up decreasing. Customer Communication While performing universal actions across multiple channels with a single click is important, it s just as important to be able to interact with each of your different channels separately as well. You need to be able to contact each customer individually, for a variety of different reasons. Some sites require you to let your customers know that their
4 managing-call-center-outsourcing/attachment/shutterstock_ / order has shipped and estimate when it will most likely arrive. Even if it s not required, doing so anyway is good etiquette, and the customer will appreciate being kept in the loop as to the status of their order. In addition, you ll sometimes need to obtain more information from your customers in order to complete their orders or process them properly. And sometimes, try though you might to keep things running smoothly, problems will come up, and you need to keep your customer informed of what s going on with their order and when it will be completed. Much as you may not want to admit that you ve made a mistake, or that an issue has arisen, it s better for all involved if you tell them what s happening right from the beginning and let them know how you re resolving the issue to keep them happy. Another action you may need to take is to make specific notes of customer requests or other detailed, order-specific information for your own benefit, to help you process a sale correctly and make sure that the customer gets what they re looking for. Your multi-channel order management portal should cater to each of those needs, allowing you not only a platform for performing centralized actions, but also the freedom of individual, personal interaction and communication with all of your online stores and the customers on them. Good
5 Good Shipping Management A good order management system can take all of your different shipping accounts and organize them into a single, unified platform that integrates with the multi-channel order platform. customer communication is one of the keys to exploding your online sales. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can build up a relationship with your customers, showing them that you care not just about their orders, but about their needs, and that you re equipped to meet those needs. When your customers come to know and trust your company, it will lead to repeat business and increased sales. Shipping What shipping companies does your company use to send out your products? If you re like most businesses, the answer to that question is probably, It depends. There are a lot of different factors that go into determining how and through whom you ll ship a package. What is it that you re shipping? What s the size of the package? Is it just one box, a whole pallet of them, or something in between? How are you sending it (air mail, ground, etc.)? Is it going across the city, across the country, or is it an international shipment? And how soon does it need to get there? These are the things you need to know before you choose which service you use to ship a particular package. And therefore, if you re like most businesses, you have accounts with all of the major shipping companies: FedEx, UPS, and DHL at least, and possibly others as well. For each service, you go to a different site, enter in a different customer code, and follow a different procedure in order to ship out the necessary packages. A good order management system can help you simplify the shipping process immensely. It can take all of your different shipping accounts and organize them into a single, unified platform that integrates with the multichannel order platform. The details of every sale are collected from each individual site and then sent to one central shipping hub for easy management. With a single, centralized portal, you can greatly simplify the shipping process. You can also do things like program the software to recognize multiple orders being shipped to the same address, so that you can consolidate them all into a single package and ship them more cheaply. You can print your labels in batches as well, from all of your different online stores at once. You can even customize your packing slips with your logo and other customized information, designing them to represent your specific brand. How does this help your business? For one thing, it ensures that you always get the best shipping rate available, no matter what you re sending. Rates can fluctuate, particularly when you re dealing with a number of diverse shipping situations. Maybe you re using FedEx to ship a package overnight to a customer, but in actuality, DHL is slightly cheaper in this case. A good shipping application can monitor the rates across all of your different shipping accounts and calculate which is the best one for each individual package and situation, in order to save you money.
6 In addition, when all of your orders are being shipped as quickly and efficiently as possible, your customers will in turn receive them as quickly and efficiently as possible, which means they ll be happier with their experience. You ll develop a reputation for good quality, fast service, and customers will be more likely to buy from your company again in the future, and even share their experience with friends, who may decide to buy from you as well. Your reputation increases, your sales increase, and of course, everyone is satisfied. Customization and Personalization Every company is different. Some are huge, processing hundreds of orders every day, out of dozens of warehouses all across the country. Others are tiny, ship locally, and operate out of one person s living room. These companies needs are different, and their orders are going to be different in a number of ways. So a single, cookie cutter solution isn t going to be ideal for either of them. Rather than being stuck with a standard, one size fits all software package, each company needs to find the order management system that works best with their specific needs. For one thing, the tools you use to manage your orders should be customizable to integrate seamlessly with your current workflow. Even companies that are the same size and sell the same products will have different
7 Personalized Service A big part of personalized service is the ability to reach someone, by phone, , or both, who knows your software platform and how it works, and can offer you their advice and expertise and ultimately help you solve your company s individual problems, to get the results you need. ways of doing things, and their order management software should be able to accommodate that. You need to be able to control the data that comes into your company, displaying and organizing it in a way that works for you. You should also be able to set up your portal so that it s easy to operate, encompassing all the information that you need to use and making it easy to navigate, so that you can go through your established routine of processing an individual order with just a few clicks. Your order management system service plan should be customizable as well, based on how many orders you need to process in a given period. A small specialty website doesn t need the same level of service as a giant online department store, and so they shouldn t have to pay the same high amount that the department store does in order to manage a much smaller customer base. And a medium-sized company will have different needs from either of them, which their service plan should reflect. But at the same time, your needs sometimes change. What about after you ve succeeded in exploding your sales, and suddenly you need to handle a whole host of new orders? Or, conversely, what if you run into hard times and need to scale your company and products back a bit? Your order management plan needs to be flexible, to allow you to raise, lower, or cancel your service quickly and easily, as needed, rather than getting stuck with a long, drawn out contract. But no matter what kind of service you re looking for, it needs to include a readily available tech support system. Every company has issues sometimes. Maybe one of your employees made a mistake, or maybe there s a software problem that needs to be resolved, an unhappy customer who demands to be placated, or something else that you just don t know how to deal with. A big part of personalized service is the ability to reach someone, by phone, , or both, who knows your software platform and how it works, and can offer you their advice and expertise and ultimately help you solve your company s individual problems, to get the results you need. Just as you need to make sure your customers are always satisfied with the service they get from your company, someone needs to be there to make sure that you re always satisfied with the services that your company subscribes to. Sales Analysis Even after your product has been delivered and the customer is satisfied, your job still isn t done. The success of your company isn t just about each individual sale, after all. You need to look at the big picture. The question becomes, which of your products are doing well, and which ones could use a sales boost? Your order management system has collected all kinds of data about the orders people are placing, who s ordering what products, what locations you re shipping to, and much more. This is where your sales really have the potential to explode. You can now use that information
8 to analyze your business and your products and try to spot trends in your sales that will help your company do better in the future. If one of your products is selling really well, it might be a good idea to raise the price a little bit to cash in on its popularity. On the other hand, if another product is hardly selling at all, maybe you should try lowering the price. You can even look at your competitors, too, and see what they re charging for the same product. Maybe one of your products is popular on Amazon but not on EBay. Maybe it s doing better in a particular region, or with a specific type of customer. Or maybe it just costs way too much to make or to ship, and isn t worth keeping in your catalogue anymore without some major changes. Your order management system lets you access all of this information and more, in order to keep a firm grasp on what s going on with each of your products. Knowledge is power. And in this case, power also means sales. The more you know about your products and their trends, the better you ll be able to market them, and target them to the audience that wants to buy them. Conclusion The surest way to boost your sales, whether online or in the real world, is to be the best at what you do. If you do your job efficiently and take care of the needs of your customers, you ll be better equipped to deal with an increase in sales, and more people will want to buy from you. And in the world of online sales, you can t be the best at what you do unless you have an effective way of managing and fulfilling your orders. You could hire dozens of employees to monitor every website that you sell on and carefully keep track of every order, from the time it s placed to the time it s shipped to the time it s delivered. Or you could simply invest in an online order management system software platform. A software platform will put everything you need right at your fingertips. It s a much cheaper option than hiring dozens of new employees, and it essentially lets you be everywhere at once, covering all of the jobs that they would. Plus, it cuts down on the human error factor, ensuring that orders are processed accurately and efficiently as much as possible. In short, with a good order management system, the customer is always satisfied. And making sure of that is the best way to explode online sales. SellerActive selleractive.com twitter.com/selleractive facebook.com/selleractive youtube.com/user/selleractive/ If you d like more information on the comprehensive order management features of our software, contact SellerActive today!