If you want to make more money you need to have an automated order entry system. An automated order entry system allows you to take orders from your customers with little or no intervention from you or your employees. This automate also makes your customers happier because it saves them time and therefore money as well.
An automated order entry system can be something very simple or it can be a complicated EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system. Even if you are currently using an EDI system, there are customers that want automation but don’t want the complexity or cost associated with a traditional EDI system.
A traditional EDI system uses standard document types, processes, as well as transactions to exchange information. This information includes but is not limited to sales orders, order confirmations, shipment confirmations, purchase orders, and other trading partner documents. These transactions are sent and received through EDI VAN’s (Value Added Networks) that act as an EDI “post office” that receives trading partner documents and routes them to the appropriate company. VAN’s are gateways that also provide other services to monitor these transactions. Of course there is a cost for these services.
Another method is a sort of informal EDI system that is used by many partners to share information. This information can be sent in many different ways. Typically how this works is that you would come to an agreement with your customer as to what the shared files will look like, what format they will be in, and how they will be shared.
For example you can easily share information with your customers such as item lists, item availability, and their pricing on each item, etc. Ideally you would discuss this with your customer and tell them what the file looks like that you are sending and what information is in the file. Once you have an agreement on the file itself, you need to agree on the transport method. This is easily done by FTP (File Transport Protocol). You can place the file on the customer’s system for them to use. The other option is that you provide a login to a place where the customer can pick the file up from you. Either way the FTP process does not have any fees or costs associated with it other than the time it takes to set up such a process from your system. The best case is that you dictate to your customers what the file is exactly and how you will provide it to them. This allows you to set the file up one time for all or most of your customers. You will most likely have a few customers that are larger that have special requirements that you will accomodate.
When you get this process automated, you will need very little user intervention to receive and process orders. The more orders you can process faster, the more money you make.