Automation Potential in: Processing and Fulfilling Orders
The processing and fulfilling order processing is tied to customer experience as well as your company’s O2C success. Although there are a plethora of online ordering tools available, the scope of these tools differs wildly and there are few true end-to-end system that can work across CRM and ERP functionality, especially at enterprise level. Automation can help to bridge the gap between systems, streamline the process and ensure visibility to both customers and operations.
Automation Impact Evaluation
The update of orders from customers has traditionally been through calls and emails, a person then has to go in and manually edit that order. These days customers expect service 24/7 and are happy to push those enquiries through online portals. Often bespoke software is needed to create these portals but in actuality tools like Robotic Process Automation could take an order number, go into an ERP, verify the latest update and then make changes accordingly, without the need for a person in the middle. Where you have your ERP and CRM sitting in different systems, use RPA to transfer and update information between them, the time savings may seem minimal per transaction but they easily add up.
Manage shipping and inventory
Another example where people are spending their time taking data from different places where you could easily automate this process. Instantly populate the relevant fields, email the customer and stakeholders and then update the inventory.
Process returns and exchanges
By setting up as series of rules a bot could process returns, update any quality assurance information, email the customer to offer an alternative and then process that order. Depending on what you are selling, its most likely that a person will need to carry out some form on inspection. Where this may need to be a manual process, by use of a tablet this information can automatically be put into the ERP where this functionality may not currently exist. If you needed a paper-based system and this could be adapted to be tick-based (for example ticking a box as to why the product has been returned) you could use OCR (optical character recognition) to understand which box has been filled in and then process that in the ERP.
Proservartner worked alongside a leading fashion wholesaler based in the EMEA. The company had over 3,000 orders each and everyday from a wide variety of different lines and labels. Our client had established a ‘digital first’ approach five years ago and had seen around 70% of their orders now coming from online and in an electronic format, which had saved significant time spent on back-end processes. One processes which had not yet been streamlined was the cancelling of orders, which needed to be done over the phone and manually updated into an ERP system.
We delivered an online portal which enables customers to cancel lines on their orders, and used RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to transfer this data to the ERP. RPA interacts with software in the same way as a human, searching for the order in the ERP system, updating the operations team and once completed sending a message back to the customer. Order lines can be cancelled efficiently with no manual intervention. We implemented an unattended bot which was able to run independently, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
With the new online platform, calls for cancellations fell by 70%, saving the 8 person team more than 175 days a of work each year. The faster service also lead to a higher satisfaction with customers and saw retention rise by 12%. The organisation saw a return on their investment in 10 months.