The life cycle of an online sale can be roughly broken into three parts – pre-order, order processing and post-order. Here, the pre-order phase deals with issues like research, sourcing/purchasing of inventory, SKU coding, pricing, setting up of the online shop, etc. The post-order phase is all about shipment tracking, payment, dealing with returns, etc. While we will deal with each of these phases in separate posts, this one is particularly about the all important order processing stage. Order processing is what you will do once you have received the order through your online portal, till you have successfully shipped it off to your customer. A myriad number of processes are involved between these two stages, each of them as important that the next. First of all, you will need all your orders from different online marketplaces to be consolidated into one single sheet. This can be done in a hassle free manner by using a multi channel inventory management software like Browntape. Once this is done, various other steps like checking inventory, making pick and pack lists, creating manifests, etc. are to be done. We have made a list of the 6 most important ones. Let us look at each of them in detail.
How to Process Orders?
1. Checking Inventory Status
Once your order list is consolidated, you need to check your inventory for the availability of the desired product. This is where the vitality of SKU codes is realized. Is the product in stock? If no, can it be procured in time? If it is available, is it available at multiple locations? In the big picture, the location based availability of the product will be a major factor in the delivery time to the customer. Once the desired product is identified and the stock is deducted, this is when you really start processing the order.
2. Creating a Pick List
Now that the products have been identified as being in stock, comes the time to pick them up for packing. This seems like an easy enough process, but can be a cause for major mistakes. Create a specific ‘pick list’, or a list of items to be picked from the warehouse. The pick list would not depend upon individual orders of customers, but rather, a single list of all the products to be shipped on a particular day. The job of the person to whom the pick list is assigned is to just collect the products in bulk and deposit them to the packing centre.
3. Creating a Pack List
The pack list is a whole different ball game. A single customer may end up buying multiple products which would have to be collected and packed together. A pack list is exclusively based on individual orders, to assist the packing process. Clump the products delivered according to your pack list. Creating two different lists for your picking and packing needs would drastically reduce a margin of error.
4. Handle the Courier Issue
Is the order from an online marketplace or your own website? Does the online marketplace provide a courier service? If it does, print shipping labels and AWBs and notify the marketplace for a scheduled pick up. If the order is to be self-fulfilled, you must have a courier system in place. Are you planning to bear the courier costs or do you expect your customer to do so? Each of these scenarios requires different steps in planning and documentation. Remember that the customer must be notified before the purchase that he/she would have to bear the cost of delivery.
5. Print Shipping Labels and Manifests
Once the nitty-gritties of the courier are taken care of, print and paste shipping labels, AWBs and other documentation, and dispatch your products. A very important step is to create a daily manifest that shows how many orders are in transit and waiting to be fulfilled. This will be your master list till the products have been delivered to your customers. Create individual manifests for the different courier services that you will employ. This will keep your processing dashboard extremely clear and transparent.
6. Notify Your Customers
Many online sellers forget this vital step during order processing. Please send timely notifications to your customers regarding the status of your orders. With an inventory management software like Browntape, this will be done automatically for you. Take care to create systems so that flags will be raised in case of delays in courier transportation. You can even share the courier tracking number with your customers.
This was our brief take on things to do once you receive an online order. For more information or queries about any aspect in online sales and ecommerce, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Browntape. Happy selling!