Improving Business Efficiency

I had the pleasure over the last month of working with a small business whose mail order division had grown very rapidly in the last 12-18 months and were in need of streamlining their processes.

Many businesses starting out in mail order eventually run into these problems. In the early days of low order volume, efficiency isnt so important – you print the orders, input them in your accounting software, write the labels, pack them in boxes/jiffy bags and it takes fairly little time regardless of how you do it.  Once you get up to dozens of orders a day though, let alone hundreds, every little inefficiency builds up.  Before you know it, what used to take minutes now takes hours and you find yourself struggling with the workload or having to spend out on hiring new staff.

But it doesnt have to be that way.  In our first business, we went within the space of a couple of years from zero orders to over 500 orders a day.  If we’d have stuck to our initial procedures, we’d have had to employ many, many more members of staff or we’d have gradually built up a significant backlog of orders.  We offered same day despatch and next day delivery and there’s no way our customers would have let us get away with slower shipping, whilst the employing more staff would have killed our profitability.  So we found through trial and error how to streamline our processes and by the time we sold that business, we could handle over 500 orders a day as easily as we could handle 15-25 orders a day in the beginning.

With the company I mentioned at the start of this post, we helped reduce order admin/processing time from up to four hours a day (before the orders were even sent to the warehouse) to just minutes via the integration of their various systems. The best thing is that as their orders continue to grow, the processing time should barely change whereas without these changes it would have continued to grow exponentially.  Lots of manual data entry now just takes a few clicks on a mouse and accounting data and shipping labels are ready.

If you are part of a small business experiencing growing pains, especially in the mail order/online retail sector, we can help.  We can advise on how to streamline your own office and warehouse operations, at a very reasonable cost that will seem cheap compared with the time and potential expense you will save.  Please drop us a message if you are interested to know more.

Just Launched: www.eclipsekickboxing.co.uk

Our latest web design project has been a site redesign for Eclipse Kickboxing and Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Wolverhampton. In business since 1989, Eclipse has long been a successful martial arts gym in the centre of the city and were looking to update their website and really showcase what goes on at the club as well as providing a great user experience.

The result is a visually appealing, feature heavy, easy to navigate site. It makes heavy use of video footage from within the gym to really give the browser a sense of what to expect when they walk through the door, taking away that initial trepidation that many people have when joining a new gym. Amongst the many features of the site are very details timetables, dedicated pages for each trainer/instructor, a shop, a blog, an FAQ page, image and video galleries and an events section where browsers can buy tickets to upcoming seminars. We also integrated their existing student curriculum software and booking system. The website is fully responsive, adjusting to screen size and device.

Making Websites Faster With Cloudflare

About a year ago, I wrote about the importance of page speed for website users and for search engine optimization. Lately I’ve been designing a lot of sites and using a variety of new techniques to boost speed further. Here’s the latest GT Metrix report for this site:

new-page-speed

Page load time has reduced from 3.5s to just 0.9s and page speed score is up to 98%. This has been achieved via several plugins for Word Press (the software this site runs on) and the use of Cloudflare Content Delivery Network. Cloudflare is free to use (unless you upgrade to a more premium account version) and it optimizes the delivery of your web pages so that visitors get much quicker load times. To read more on how it works, please visit their website – https://www.cloudflare.com/overview. It’s extremely easy to set up, just create your account and then change your domain name servers to point to Cloudflare. Cloudflare then sits between your domain name and your webhosting package, boosting your website performance and also screening out threats.

Cloudflare has a variety of additional functions even with the free user account level, such as minification of javacript, CSS and HTML.