As your business grows, increase automation of EDI and order processing.
As demand for your products grows, your company evolves. And whether you’re just exiting startup mode or you’re an established company finding success in new markets, nothing is static. The more you can automate EDI and order processing to control costs, the less challenging your journey will be.
After all, you want to manage growth without significantly increasing costs. More analytically, you want to handle a surge in sales volume without simply adding people to your workforce.
That might sound cold. And at some point, of course, there is simply no substitute for adding talented people. Trouble is, quality humans aren’t inexpensive and they can be difficult to find. The harsh reality is that people are expensive, both in the short-term and the long run. Before you commit to increasing your head count, it’s worth taking a moment to make sure you’re not simply adding staff instead of seeking greater efficiency.
The supply chain remains a terrific opportunity to streamline, improve, and enhance. Even the nimblest companies—hello, Amazon—are constantly searching for ways to bring fresh efficiency to this aspect of their business. Whether it’s new technology or new thinking, opportunities to improve everything from order processing to fulfillment are always present.
With the busy holiday season upon us, what steps can you take to avoid needing a slew of last-minute hires to deal with the rush?
As specialists in EDI transactions and online order processing, we have some ideas that might help. Before you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and rushing to bring on staff, let’s take a moment to think about ways you can create efficiencies instead of adding to your payroll.
Make EDI transactions as automated as possible.
No surprise here—we started as an EDI provider in 2000 and we’ve enjoyed consistent growth because we have found ways to make EDI transactions more efficient and less error-prone. The secret is automation.
At the very least, you should be able to process documents in batch. With batch processing, you can move hundreds of documents in just a few clicks instead of completing multiple steps to handle just one. You’ll reduce tasks from hours to minutes and yes, you’ll be able to get more done with fewer people.
Reducing the human element not only means you need fewer people on your payroll, it also cuts the possibility of mistakes. When humans are doing things like copy-and-paste actions, errors creep in. And mistakes can be expensive.
Process online orders the same way as other orders.
Another way companies wind up adding staff they may not need? Having multiple systems in place to process orders.
It’s not just that it’s cumbersome. There’s also a good chance that it leads to staff creep, with one person handling one type of order and another managing the ones that arrive from another channel.
That’s why there’s real value in working with a provider that can handle it all—EDI, online marketplaces like Amazon and Jet, eCommerce stores like Magento or Shopify. With one system in place, you can process all your orders the same way.
With, most likely, the same person.
Integrate order processing with shipping providers.
Turning an order into a shipment is another part of the process that can bog you down, making you think you need to add more people. But what if order information could be automatically transferred to major shipping providers like FedEx and UPS? Or if your Shipstation could be integrated with your order processing? Labels can be generated automatically, and everything can happen faster.
If your company is transferring data manually from the order to the shipping provider, you have a person on staff who is performing a boring, mundane task. If you find yourself with a lot of orders, you might suddenly need more than one person to do this work. It’s not exactly the kind of task that people are excited to tackle, and there are limits to how well and how much human beings can get done.
Integrating your order processing workflow with shipping providers is another way you can avoid staff creep and prevent a swell in expenses just as your brand starts to take off.
Integrate with the system that powers your business.
Let’s say you’ve gone from garage startup to a company with real structure. Along the way, you probably introduced an ERP to manage your business. You can make that ERP even more powerful, automate EDI and order processing to control costs, and remain a company that runs lean—like you did when you were bootstrapping it at the outset.
If you run an ERP like NetSuite, make sure your EDI and order processing software can be fully integrated with it. A tailored solution will be the best, allowing you to manage everything with a work flow that makes sense for your operation. You’ll automate all kinds of tasks and instead of adding people, you’ll be increasing efficiency.
Of course, not everyone runs an ERP like NetSuite or SAP. But growing companies do rely on other systems and providers—accounting software like QuickBooks, a WMS, a 3PL. When your EDI and order processing provider can integrate, you enjoy more efficiency instead of more staff. And more office coffee and more office space and more office politics and, well, you get the idea.
Get customer support when you need it.
Many brands have peak seasons and then other, not-so-peak times. Retail, after all, is typically seasonal. If that’s been the cycle at your company, you have probably responded by adding people during your busiest periods.
The trouble is that when demand naturally ebbs, you find yourself either carrying unnecessary staff or forced to lay people off. A cycle of hiring and firing does little to build morale, and it’s stressful if you’re the owner or manager.
During a high-volume time, you can mitigate the need to add staff if your EDI and order processing provider is backed by a customer support team that is expert and ready to help. In some ways, it’s like adding great people to your operation without the challenges and overhead that go along with that. Bottom line: experts in customer support can improve your bottom line.
Find more efficiencies instead of more people.
Hiring is always a challenge. Hiring great people is even tougher.
While adding staff is an inevitable part of growth and success, doing it only when necessary will benefit anyone who already works at a company. If you can help your best people be even more effective, you’ll be freeing them to focus on the things that can generate revenue and profits.
There are all kinds of ways to make any company more efficient. Examine your EDI and order processing—there’s a good chance you’ll find opportunities to automate and streamline.
Want to learn more? Schedule a no-pressure, no sales pitch conversation with us.