The Problem of Not Tracking Orders Digitally
Imagine working in the shipping department for an industrial manufacturing company. You clock in and open your email to check the day’s orders. It doesn’t look too bad, nothing you can’t handle. Heck – you might even be able to take a long lunch.
But then you check each order spreadsheet. Tom needs 100 samples of various items. You sift through his list and spot incorrect item numbers and some quantities that don’t feel right. You type an email and ask him to clarify a few things.
In the next email, Frank says he needs 50 samples of cups delivered to a client by tomorrow! You have to get shipping approved from management and let Frank know that you have only 20 cups in stock. A lot of emails with a lot of the same problems clog your inbox.
So much for lunch. Maybe that breakfast burrito can get you through the day.
The above is no hypothetical. In the process of redesigning a website for a packaging manufacturer, the Northwoods team discovered that the samples shipping department faced these problems every day. They knew this because they took the time to visit the manufacturing facility and talk with employees. They found that the company website, like most manufacturing websites, made no accommodation for placing orders for product samples.
Salespeople at the client’s company order samples by entering orders on a spreadsheet or via email to the samples department. Either way led to a lot of back-and-forth to clarify details, including:
- Order Confirmations
- Order Status
- Out of Stock Items
- Unavailable Quantity Requests
- Incorrect Item Numbers
- Incorrect Shipping Information
- Delivery Dates
The new Northwoods Titan system will greatly reduce these communications. A quick login and sample-order status check will replace email exchanges and phone calls.
Incorrect order detail information wastes time, but that wasn’t the client’s biggest problem. Orders that come in via email usually have attached spreadsheets which prevent orders from being stored or tracked in a database. Enforcing any ordering rules or regulations before the order makes it to the warehouse becomes an impossible task and ultimately leads to longer fulfillment times. Interactions with the person placing the order is also done via email, which is very time-consuming and results in delays when both parties are forced to wait for replies.
The Solution to a More Efficient Website System
The obvious solution: An automated sample-order process. Not every content management system can support that. Northwoods’ Titan CMS can. The Northwoods team is building the new website on Titan CMS and designing a custom product sample ordering system to meet our client’s needs.
Northwoods’ Titan CMS solution will track every user’s order history. This saves time, money, and sanity, as it relieves the stress of trying to catch these orders from memory.
Easy review of order history, built into the system, provides a simple way to pull reports that contain valuable insights.
When the system is up and running, our client will be able to track how many samples ship and the level of attention each product attracts. The company will be able to analyze the data to correlate actual sales with the number of samples a salesperson orders. Going into this process, the company lacked an easy way to see if its sales team qualifies leads before sending them samples. Auditing sample distribution involved tracking down all the paper copies in a filing cabinet.
Taking time to visit our client’s facility helped us understand the problems employees face on a day-to-day basis. We heard their stories and saw their procedures in action. We heard the gears grinding.
We noticed, for example, that the sample products being shipped did not contain item numbers. The shipping department employees manually wrote the item number on a sticker and stuck it on the item. The Northwoods team saw this as another opportunity to help. We are looking at ways to pull the item number directly from the electronic order, so the stickers automatically print. This will reduce the chance for human error.
Sometimes, it’s not about the internet and computing. Sometimes it’s about being in the room and observing what’s going on. A first-hand picture of client needs will inform the way we build a custom web application for this manufacturer. This application will improve internal procedures, enhance efficiency and profitably, and last but certainly not least, make everyone just a little happier in the workplace.
This custom web application is an ongoing project at Northwoods.
Originally Published: Thu, September 22, 2016