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.