Are Virtual Assistants Necessary for Efficient Order Management Process?
- June 9, 2023
- 5 min read
- By Raspreet Kaur
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The order management process is the backbone of any eCommerce business. About 20.8% of retail purchases in 2023 are expected to occur online. From the time a customer clicks on ‘buy’ till the time the product is delivered to the customer, the whole journey falls under order management and processing. It sounds easy enough at first, but if it’s not maintained or executed correctly- it will lead to potential loss and damage. In this blog, we will explore the order management process and how a virtual assistant can help you.
Understanding Order Management Process
In simple terms, the order management process includes accepting, tracking, and fulfilling orders placed by customers. However, there are a lot more components to it. The order processing manager will also have to coordinate and manage the inventory system, delivery visibility, etc. With the advancement of technology, business owners can now keep track of everything in one place.
There’s room for error in the coordination and involvement of many departments within the order management process. As a business owner, you can’t afford such a mistake. That’s why most business owners outsource eCommerce store management, specifically order processing management, to save time and money. Letting an expert virtual assistant handle all the grunt work reduces the possibility of error and frees up time for your full-time employees to focus on other essential tasks.
The Key Components of Order Management Process: Tasks a VA Can Help You With
Are you planning to outsource your order management process but unsure what tasks your virtual assistants can handle? Well, worry not. In this blog section, we focus on the different tasks your VA can do for you.
1. Order Receiving and Entry
Depending on your business model, your VA receives and accepts customer orders through emails, social media, websites, or phone calls. It is the first of the many steps in the order management process. Your VA can enter the order details manually or use software to automate the process to ensure all the necessary information is stored in a database. Furthermore, they send an order confirmation message or mail to the customer.
2. Order Verification and Validation
Once the order is accepted, it needs to be validated regarding available inventory, promo codes, special discounts, pricing, etc. Virtual assistants do this to monitor the business's stock availability and cash flow. They also verify the information provided by the customer, like phone number, address, etc., to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the order information. The VA screens all orders to ensure there's no fraud to prevent/block fraudulent charges, keeping your business safe.
3. Inventory Check and Allocation
Managing inventory is a tedious and time/consuming task in the order management process, but it's crucial for the success of your business. With the help of your VA, you get detailed and error-free inventory reports timely, so you can focus on optimizing your business. They update the inventory records and alert you if there's an out-of-stock or low-stock situation to take the necessary action. Most of all, your business will always be up and running as the VA will ensure that there's always sufficient stock for order fulfillment.
4. Payment Processing
It's always best to let one person handle the end-to-end order management process. Virtual assistants are generally well-versed in financial knowledge and have the skills to use software tools to make payment processing easier. They handle credit card transactions, processing invoices, payments, etc. To ensure the customer's and company's safety, your VA ensures that all protocols are followed, the payment gateways are secure, and the payment collection process is monitored.
5. Order Fulfillment and Packaging
Since multiple departments are involved, coordinating with them can get tricky. VAs are constantly in touch with the warehouse or fulfillment center during order management. They coordinate with the center to ensure the order is picked up, packaged, and delivered on time. Further, virtual assistants also arrange for packaging material (like boxes, protective bags, etc.), to secure the products and ensure the delivered goods are not damaged. VAs also look into labels and packing slips to confirm the order is correct and reaches the right person.
6. Shipping and Delivery Logistics
Another department virtual assistants coordinate with during the order management process is logistics. VAs help them schedule pickups for on-time delivery. They must also look into customer preferences like shipping methods, delivery destination, cost on delivery options, cost considerations, etc. They take care of the shipping and delivery logistics to ensure no delay during transit. On-time delivery adds to customer satisfaction, which builds brand reputation.
7. Order Tracking and Status Updates
Do you know that 76% of people will stop doing business with a company after two terrible customer experiences? They want to see where the order is, how long it will take to reach, etc. Virtual assistants keep customers informed about their order status and answer any query that they might have. They can provide further information on order shipping, processing, approximate delivery date, and more. It reassures the customer and keeps them in a loop.
8. Returns and Exchanges Management
Virtual assistants also handle the process of managing exchanges or returns for customers. VAs communicate with them to understand why they want to exchange or return the product, if the product received is damaged, etc. These reasons help your business improve production and order management processes. Customers get 24/7 assistance from virtual assistance to initiate return requests, get return shipping, and exchange products on time.
9. Customer Communication and Support
A Harvard Company Review states that business owners spend, on average, 3% of their work hours communicating with customers. It means there's little time allocated to the people essential for growing the business. That's why they choose to outsource a virtual assistant to help them with the order management process. This way, business owners can focus on other things on their plate without neglecting customer support.
10. Order Documentation and Record-Keeping
The order management process is complex; virtual assistants keep the process organized and manageable by documenting everything. They are responsible for maintaining and keeping track of ongoing and past order details, payment records, customer data, and more. These documents and records are stored in a manner that is easily accessible for future use. Virtual assistants can also use data and records to analyze trends and give insights into sales, business trends, or customer behavior.
Overcoming Common Challenges in Order Management Process
The order management process is not smooth sailing. During this journey, you are bound to encounter one or many challenges. Here is a rundown of some of such issues and how to solve them.
1. Technology Limitations
The manual order management process is a thing of the past. It is time-consuming, inaccurate, causes delays, is error-prone, and ultimately leads to customer dissatisfaction. Business owners have realized that the key to rapid growth and success is automation. By integrating order management system processes or even customer relationship management software, you can improve the efficacy of operations on all fronts of your business.
2. Order Tracking
Customers want to know where the product is or how long it will take to deliver. Poor tracking and visibility of the order lead to customer queries, a hike in customer support requests, and a poor shopping experience. To avoid this, streamline your eCommerce site or app and allow customers to track their orders and get real-time updates. Back-end processes like integrating tracking numbers from shipping carriers into your OMS needs to be done to give such a service to your buyers. Customers who can view and manage orders independently are less likely to be dissatisfied with your business
3. Collaboration and Communication
As mentioned before, the order management process requires many departments to communicate and coordinate to deliver the product successfully. In most cases, the inefficient communication between these parties leads to delays or errors in order processing. To prevent this from happening, most businesses outsource virtual assistants as it's less time-consuming, and they are well-versed with all the practices/tools required for accessible and effective communication.
As your business experiences an increase or decrease in demand due to seasonal fluctuations, market forces, etc., it can be hard to adapt to such changes instantly. There needs to be a system in place through which you can maintain the flexibility to meet the changing demands. Outsourcing the order management process is the easiest and most effective solution. Depending on the current requirements, you can scale up or down and pay accordingly. An alternative solution is to invest in scalable technology that can handle the increasing orders when necessary.
To Sum Up
By now, it's clear that virtual assistants are the solution to all challenges encountered during the order management process. They are necessary to streamline operations and drive growth or success. Outsourcing a virtual assistant from Office Beacon comes with many perks. The competitive rates allow you to hire them cost-effectively; you get access to a suite of powerful software tools, detailed weekly reports of VAs, and so much more. Outsource your order management process and leave your operations in capable hands.