According to the Office for National Statistics, online retail sales increased by 14% between 2016 and 2017, with an average weekly spend of £1.2 billion. E-commerce in the UK now accounts for 17% of all spending by pound value.
Larger retailers dominate the platform, with low-pricing strategies that can make competing difficult for small and medium-sized businesses. Smaller vendors tend to concentrate on specialist products and providing expertise and advice. Customer service is increasingly important, especially in an era of social media complaints and review site ratings.
One of the appeals of running an online shop is the far lower overheads due to not needing to rent a physical store space or hire sales assistants. But dealing with a high volume of sales and enquiries may well involve hiring staff either working in a shared office or remotely. As your online business grows, you could face an increased workload that suffers from bottlenecks and disruptions.
Business process management is a discipline that gives you the tools to analyse, improve and automate each stage of your working practices, with the goal of increased productivity and profitability. How could this approach help in relation to running a successful online retail operation?
Approving, ordering from suppliers, and keeping track of the products you sell on your website is essential to maintaining the inventory you need to satisfy customer demand. Business process management helps by mapping out every stage of this process, from ordering from suppliers to making sales.
Automating this process removes the need to update spreadsheets and send emails manually. The risk of human error and inefficiency is greatly reduced. By streamlining this process, you can keep your inventory at an optimum level, fulfilling all orders without accumulating excess stock.
Setting out a process for your customer enquiries and complaints can significantly speed up response times, and give a you clear framework for resolving issues successfully. Deadlines are essential here, as most consumers will forgive you for making a mistake, but few will forgive not making amends quickly and sincerely.
Refunds are an aspect of customer service that also affects inventory and finances. Setting up a system to update your stock and simultaneously send money back to a customer is a way of saving time and effort, significantly reducing administrative overheads.
SwiftCase is a powerful cloud-based business process management platform with an intuitive interface accessible across mobile devices as well as desktop machines.
Configure workflows to automate customer service enquiries, and track events in real time to keep on top of inventory and orders.
If you’re interested in a free, no-obligation demonstration, get in touch today.