When business starts to pick up, what was previously easily accomplished and managed in your basement, might start to pile up and get complicated. A lot of businesses are not prepared to face higher demand due to insufficient initial planning or drastic order increase due to a successful marketing campaign. All of a sudden, customers are kept waiting, orders get mixed up, inventory is a pile of mess, some products get returned, some products get damaged, some contractors or suppliers demand their late payments… It’s not a pretty picture, especially when you don’t have a whole team of professionals to handle these issues for you. In fact, the situation might become so overwhelming that you may feel the urge to abandon the business altogether.
Don’t take such drastic measures just yet. There are some strategies that can salvage the disaster and put the order process back on track.
Improve reaction time
Sometimes all it takes for a process to run smoothly is your reaction time to an incoming order or request. Has an order just been registered? Communicate it immediately down the order processing chain. Forward the order to your warehouse or fulfilment service provider. Don’t wait for orders to accumulate or execute them in bulk. Is there an incoming complaint or request pertaining to an existing order? Don’t wait to solve a customer’s problem until you have checked off all the other items on your to-do list. Having an efficient customer service team or system ensures you don’t lose customers, even if something goes wrong with an order.
Automate the process
Think about the cost and labor you would save by integrating an order management system, such as Carta to automate the entire ordering process. Such a software solution will make sure all inventory numbers are accurate, orders are handled in a timely manner, payments are issued or processed appropriately and within deadlines, etc., without having to pay for extra staff.
Use reporting features
Most order management systems come equipped with sophisticated, yet intuitive reporting features. Use the available graphs, charts and other visuals and data to track sales, make projections, determine bestsellers, and monitor customer retention and satisfaction. These features will provide returned products and order cancellation at a glance, and will also handle and apply all discounts and special campaigns you are implementing for certain products or periods.
Don’t wait to run out of a product to start thinking about stocking up on it. Don’t wait for a batch to spoil before announcing a clearance. Use the reporting features mentioned above to plan projected sales, as well as to make informed decisions about the lines of products you offer. Schedule all payments to suppliers at the beginning of each financial period to avoid running out of funds at the last possible moment and having to compromise your business relationships with late payments or defaulting on a payment.
You might think that these suggestions are simply not applicable for a small home-based business, but a bit of forward planning might actually help speed up your business growth, so it is worth looking into.