Take a look around you. How much of your life have you put on a schedule? At home, do you have a programmable thermostat? Is your alarm clock set to go off at the same hour every morning? Does your coffee maker begin to brew even when you’re still hitting the snooze button?
We like automation because it provides the benefit of convenience without additional effort. Why not apply the same principles to your Order Management System (OMS) in an effort to simplify your Ecommerce operations?
Here are some order management functions you should automate to help increase operational efficiency, cut costs and drive profits:
1. Low Inventory Items: Automatically create purchase orders for items low on inventory and automatically post them to each supplier. The benefit is two-fold. First, if you automate this on items that have high velocity and demand, you will never find yourself “temporarily” out of stock. Second, it reduces busy work. You have identified the items up front, so you don’t need to analyze reports to determine need and then manually create the purchase orders.
2. High Return Items: Automatically switch items with high returns to “offline” so they can be pulled off the website until an investigation can be conducted. The benefit here is the ability to react much more quickly to a potential customer satisfaction issue. It is possible that there has been a large increase in returns for a specific product and nobody has bothered to check the reports. By automating this, you can remove the time lag and as such, increase customer satisfaction since you are not selling an item that is a profit killer. Another benefit is a pre-defined workflow by using automated reporting that lets you create the report once and then distribute it (via email) on a regular basis to anyone you choose.
3. Credit Card Issues: When you have a PCI level 1 certified platform, you have the luxury of storing credit cards for future orders. This is what powers auto ship and continuity success. But, what happens if the credit card you have on file has expired and there are pending shipments? Why not automate a process to send out credit card expiration warnings for continuity customers with pending orders? Experience has shown that contacting the shopper after the decline results in a higher drop-out rate from the continuity program than notifying the customer before the decline and directing them in the email to the customer self-service portal on your website where they can update the expiration date or provide a brand new card.
4. Bad Debt Customers: Automatically mark customers for bad debt and prevent them from ordering again in the future. The benefit again is the speed you need to react and the ability to prevent costly mistakes. If you rely on manual processing, there’s a higher potential for bad debt to slip through since many businesses don’t have the resources or time to check as often as they should. Checking only once a month, for example, leaves you vulnerable for bad debt customers to place multiple orders, thus increasing your exposure to fraud and the expense of bad debt.
5. Auto-ship or Continuity Programs: Do you offer auto-ship or continuity on a variety of the products you sell? To leverage auto-ship functionality, you make it a top priority to analyze trends in your customer’s buying behavior. Why not automate campaigns based on the behaviors you’ve observed? For example, automate a campaign that analyzes the shopping behavior of customers who are NOT enrolled in a particular auto-ship program. When the analysis shows that they order the same product with predictable recurrence, let the automated campaign reach out to them with a personalized invitation and incentive for them to join the continuity program. Then, automate a campaign to upsell and cross sell suggested products based on their buying behavior. Or, how about an automated campaign across your house list promoting last week’s top sellers? Chances are our customer might enroll in a nested continuity program!
Automating routine tasks is a great way to increase revenue without increasing your workload. Think about taking some time to learn the automation tools of your Order Management Software and then implement them. You will be pleasantly surprised at the lift they provide.
-Andy Lloyd - GM of Commerce Products