In the fast-paced world of wholesale trade, having efficient order entry processes can be the difference between survival and failure. Your business needs to have fast and efficient ordering processes to track and fulfill your incoming orders on time. From managing customers’ orders daily to fulfilling large volumes of orders during the holiday season, there is probably never a shortage of orders your team needs to process and then ship out to your customers.
A poorly managed wholesale order entry process that is slow or error-prone is problematic for your business. For instance, a delayed in shipping could affect a large volume of future orders. When you are unable to fulfill your customers' orders on time, you break the trust they have in you. Once trust is broken, it is unlikely for them to continue using your service and they will instead turn to your competitors to have their needs met.
Thus, building an efficient order entry process to cater to customer needs and stay ahead of your competitors is absolutely critical. Here are 7 tips to streamline your wholesale business’s order entry processes.
1. Consolidate Order Channels
Managing wholesale orders from different channels is challenging. When orders come in through multiple channels such as phone calls, voicemails, emails, etc., rather than in a centralized ordering system, managing orders becomes chaotic and messy. As a result, there is a high possibility of orders getting lost or misplaced.
You should limit and consolidate your order channels to make it easier for inside or outside sales reps to manage the orders. This can be achieved with a B2B eCommerce platform which helps streamline the order management process. Customers can order, track their order and view their order history on this platform and reduce the need for them to call or email your business. Moreover, your sales team benefit by having a centralized platform to view and manage every customer orders.
2. Standardize Data Entry Processes
Data standardization is fundamental for data quality control. It is the critical process to manage data using a standard format so that it can be managed and analyzed in a consistent manner. When your business standardizes its data entry process, it benefits by having accurate and consistent data to work with. Less time is also needed for data management. With accurate data, your business can operate at the most efficient level.
If your business does not standardize its order entry data process, there will be instances of bad data produced. Using bad data can bring about negative repercussions like duplicate order entries or wrong address shipment, resulting in the loss of consumer confidence in your business.
What type of data should be standardized? Your business can start by looking at data categories that affect the order fulfillment process such as customer information. Some examples include job titles, location, and address.
Furthermore, data standardization is a necessary prerequisite for automation to take place. This will be discussed in the next section.
3. Automate Order Entry Processes
Traditional manual data entry is not only error-ridden but also time-consuming. The result: incomplete, inconsistent and duplicate order entries. Your business can eliminate order and duplicate data entry by automating the data entry process. With automated order processing, relevant order information entered into the system will be automatically sent to the respective departments that need it. Streamlining the entire data entry process speeds up the time to complete the data entry process, allowing you to process and fulfill orders faster.
Let us go through a scenario of how automation can benefit a wholesale business. Below is an example of a manual order entry process.
- When a customer submits an order, an employee would input the customer sales information into the sales rep system.
- That same employee would then key in that same information into the accounting platform.
- Lastly, the customers' sales information will be manually entered into the production team packing list.
By automating the order entry process, an employee would need to key in the sales order once into sales rep system and the information will be automatically be sent to the accounting platform and the production team packing list.
Streamlining the entire data entry process speeds up the time to complete the data entry process, allowing you to process and fulfill orders faster.
4. Sync Your Ordering System To Your Inventory
There is nothing more embarrassing than accepting a customer's’ order only to find out that your business cannot fulfill it due to a lack of inventory. With real-time syncing between your order entry system and your inventory, the chance for missed stock-outs and other mishandling of data is reduced. Every time a sales order is entered into the system, inventory numbers will be updated automatically to reflect the change in stock level. With real-time update of your inventory, you can make accurate decisions and determine if you have enough stock on hand to fulfill a customer’s order or if more inventory is required.
5. Reduce Data Redundancy
Some companies believe information is power, and they should strive to collect as much data they can when customers order from them. However, the more information processed, the higher the chances that errors will occur. Businesses need to keep their order entry process as simple as possible by ensuring that only useful information is entered and processed.
Periodic review sessions need to be held to evaluate which data are relevant, nice to have or are obsolete in the wholesale order entry process. Your business should design its order entry form in a manner that captures only essential data and eliminates any redundant data from the process.
6. Examine And Resolve Sources Of Data Inaccuracies
Data inaccuracies arise from mistakes like keying in incorrect values or forgetting to move data from one spreadsheet to the other. Your business needs to take consistent steps to find out the root causes of data inaccuracies and fix it. It is not enough to correct the error in the short term, but there is a need to implement a long-term solution to prevent such errors from happening again. This process is called defect prevention. Defect prevention is defined as the continuous process for improving the data entry process to reduce the likelihood of wrong data. Some solutions include implementing an error-checking routine or cleaning up the data entry process.
7. Get Your Employees On Board
Even if your business has a perfect order entry process, it will not be successful if your employees are not on board. It is important to explain and educate your employees on how they benefit by following the order entry system. Your employees need to buy in to your process so that they will follow and use the process correctly to help achieve an efficient order entry process.
Also, whenever a business’s data entry processes have undergone major changes, you will have to predict possible resistance and troubleshoot potential issues to help your employees successfully onboard to the new order entry process.
By following these tips to streamline your wholesale order entry process, it can help increase your business profitability and sales.
One way to manage your wholesale order entry process better is by using an inventory and order management software. Here at Sweet, we have an inventory and order management platform designed for wholesale business needs.
Some benefits include:
To find out how Sweet can help your wholesale business, request a demo with us today.