Let’s face it, operations isn’t the most popular business function. Figuring out processes can be its own time consuming process! But, when it comes to ecommerce it is absolutely necessary. If your operational processes aren’t in order your customer will feel it! That’s why this blog walks you through the basic operations processes you’ll need to run an ecommerce business effectively.
Processes – What is your process for…?
Establishing processes in your business ensures that things get done. There are processes that guide everything that happens in your business. Some of them are unconscious processes and others are conscious.
How do employees know where to receive, warehouse and stock product? Who is supposed to do it? How do employees know how to schedule their shifts. How do they know what to do when a product is out of stock? What about when a customer returns an item?
Each scenario that happens in your business has a process. Sometimes the process is simple, like knowing how to punch in and out. Sometimes the process is more complex, like negotiating with vendors. Whether it is explicit or not, there is an established process for tasks and knowing who handles each task.
Ecommerce websites need internal processes to be successful. If you decide to launch an ecommerce website, be sure to work on your processes.
Here are the most common processes to consider.
Who handles ecommerce orders? When an order happens on your website certain things will need to be set in motion. First, someone will need to be notified of the new order and review it. This person will need to make sure that there aren’t any issues with the order and check for fraud alerts. After reviewing the order, a designated staff member will need to pick, pack and ship the item. Finally, someone will need to send the shipping information to the customer.
This process will vary based on fulfillment method. Each method, drop ship, store pickup or local delivery, will have its own process flow.
Some items purchased online will be returned. Customers will need refunds. The process is not as simple when you shipped a product to someone. Do you expect them to ship it back before they receive their refund?
Retailers have different processes. It is important to define the process for refunds and returns. Post it on your website in a visible location.
If you sell out of a product in your store you’ll know it because the product won’t be there. Online it is trickier. If your POS connects to your online store that’s great. If it does not, you’ll need to manage orders for out of stock items. It is important to pay close attention to inventory levels, discontinued items and new items.
Remember, even if you connect your POS to your website that doesn’t mean that you have web ready data. Do the products in your POS have images and descriptions? When you bring in new inventory you will need to prepare web ready data. Web ready data is the information about that product that appears online. This includes a picture of the product, a description and a retail price.
Who will do the data entry? How will they check everything for accuracy both online and in-store?
Will you update your website as things happen? Will you update it daily? Once a month? In order for your site to succeed it is imperative that the site stays accurate. If customers are going to buy from your website they need to be able to trust the information they see.
Who will keep your hours, sale items, banner ads and other information up to date? This could be the store owner, an employee or an agency.
Don’t forget your bookkeeping!
There are a lot of opportunities to use technology to streamline this process. It depends on what software you are using. You may be able to connect your accounting system to your ecommerce site.
From the beginning keep this new aspect of your business organized. The financial reporting will be key to making good decisions.
Deciding on your processes as you build your website will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run. The worst thing you can do is wait until your website is live. You don’t want to figure out what to do as you receive orders. Establish processes for handling them in advance. Be proactive to be successful!