Ever find yourself tracking down missing order forms and invoices while manually keying orders into your system and looking up which of your products are in or out of stock?
If this sounds familiar then you’re not alone. For most of the wholesalers we talk to, managing their business using a spreadsheet is the norm. But what if we told you the traditional paper-based “system” you’re used to is one of the worst ways to manage your orders and can create enormous risks for your business.
Based on several studies (and experiences), spreadsheets are error-prone, solely because they require a lot of manual data entry. Just think of the number of mistakes your staff will make if they have to enter hundreds of different retail orders into a file all by themselves. Anecdotally, our customers across the food and beverage insdutry often estimate that their rate of erroris up to 10%. Regardless of whether they’re professional data entry operators or not, your staff are still likely to make one to two mistakes when keying orders in. The University of Hawaii, in fact, found out that the chance of errors in a complex spreadsheet is more than 99 percent!
In your case as a food and beverage supplier, these errors might not only lead to lost revenue but also to lost customers. As we all know, mistakes with orders are a huge inconvenience for the cafes, bars and restaurants ordering from you. Wrong orders and late deliveries are cited as one of the biggest challenges they face when dealing with their suppliers, according to our recent study. The bad news doesn’t end here - on top of being prone to errors and mistakes, reasons why relying spreadsheets isn't healthy for your business include:
1. They’re complicated. As you enter more data and create more tables, your spreadsheet becomes more complicated. This makes it stressful and difficult for you to consolidate all your retail orders and get an end-to-end view of everything, from the placement of the orders to the delivery.
2. They lead to more work. You have to check your excel sheet constantly just to stay on top of whether there are orders that are due for payment or shipping. Not to mention the time you have to spend creating the order confirmations, invoices, and pick slips manually.
3. They hinder productivity. Obviously, only one person can access and update the spreadsheet at a time. Even cloud based shared sheets can still result in accidental overrides. If you have multiple making changes, you can end up with multiple different sheets with different states of accuracy. This process is inefficient and time consuming, and can be avoided!
4. There’s no room for automation. Just when you think the hard work taking down orders from your customers is over, it’s not. These orders must be entered manually, one by one, into your spreadsheet, costing you time and increasing your stress levels. What’s worse, the high likelihood of errors can strain the relationship between you and your customers. Remember, a simple mistake in the quantity of the orders or even in the product name can affect your professional relationship with a customer - all they see is the items they ordered, or even paid for, but didn't show up. They are relying on you to get it right. In addition to this, spreadsheets also require you to manually count the products in your inventory.
5. They can’t give you a real-time and accurate picture of your inventory. No matter how slick your sheet is, how many jazzy complicated formulas you have and autofill rules, with all the data and multiple tabs, it is still far too time-consuming to have to keep checking your inventory levels and what’s in or out of stock and updating a sheet. Tracking products from different warehouse locations accurately can be a massive headache, too. On top of that, if you do have a super complicated sheet, it's even more prone to issues as excel becomes unstable and crashes when it has to deal with too much at once.
6. They will slow down your growth. Let’s face it - spreadsheets aren’t for long-term use. This is especially true if you’re expanding your business and expecting hundreds more orders to flood in. As you grow, you will also need to have a new method or a modernised system that can grow with you and adapt to the needs of your business.
Now enough of the bad stuff; let’s get down to the good news. The good news is you can remove all these hassles and manual work from your business operations by simply adopting a dedicated order management system.
An order management system can power up your business. It’s a tool that can streamline your order processing and automate your most complicated tasks, so at no stage will you have to manually key an order in or count a product. It can sync retailer order data with your inventory and accounting systems, and automates all the data entry, therefore, reducing your ordering errors and saving you time.
FINDING THE RIGHT ORDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
So, how do you find the right order management system that’s suitable for your business? Here are some of the most top features you should look for:
- It must have a simple and easy-to-use interface that can let you manage and edit customer orders with ease.
- Allow you to have a digital product catalogue where you can easily upload product images and upsell/cross-sell your latest deals and offers. The catalogue should also have the ability to let you customise pricing and product mix for each retailer you sell to.
- Able to send order confirmations and invoices automatically.
- Lets you accept multiple orders from different customers in a single interface.
- Have the capability to sync with your current inventory system and give you stock level visibility across different warehouse locations so you can see in real-time what’s in or out of stock.
- Able to send out notifications or text messages that will remind your customers when orders are due so you don’t have to chase late orders again.
- The order management system must also have the ability to accept Standing Orders or automated recurring orders so you can help keep your customers from missing their cut-off.
- Of course, it should be able to accept instant payments. Having an order management system that can charge your customers instantly by direct debit, credit card, or according to the terms you have agreed is a great way to have a positive cash flow.
- It should have the ability to generate powerful insights and essential reports so you can cut down your admin work and have more time to do the things you love most.
An important thing to bear in mind is, not all order management systems on the market today possess these winning features altogether. One system we know that has all these elements and more is Ordermentum. Our app, which is purpose built for food and beverage businesses like yours, can help you manage your retail orders effectively and make your life easier so you can do away with using those time-consuming and complicated spreadsheets.
Meanwhile, for more business advice from us, visit the “Business Advice” section on our blog.