Is Automation Right for Your Company?

Nov 27, 2012 9:23 PM  By

Manual order processing versus automated order processing? What’s best for your company?

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Multichannel Merchant
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Multichannel Merchant
O+F Operations and Fulfillment

Throughout the ordering process, a series of electronic processes is connected to a single purchase and that information must be kept accurate, in order, and documented. By using manual processes, a merchant runs the risk of making mistakes with the order as a result of human error, having inaccurate information, or simply not keeping all of the pieces together so that everything works as the customer expects, according to Jeff Rauscher, director of solution design at Redwood Software.

Manually connecting all of these parts, Rauscher added, is much slower than connecting these processes with technology, and could require many people working many hours under supervision to make sure everything gets done.

But if the merchant coordinates and connects these process steps and applications through automation, the entire order to fulfillment process is accurate, fast for the customer, and not subject to human error, Rauscher said. Automation costs are hard to specify, Rauscher said, because the options are scalable and can be tailored to a merchant’s needs.
Response time for retailers, especially during the holiday season, is crucial and Rauscher believes an automated order processing system is imperative for accurate orders. Rauscher provided the following example.

If an online store maintains its current, available stock in real time through automation, then people who visit the website would automatically see what they could buy. If something were not available, it would immediately show as “out of stock” or “backorder.” If it’s left up to a manual process, just keeping up with this would require constant vigilance, coordination and updating. Without this one simple element of automation, people might order items that are no longer available. Orders could come in that would require a call back to the customer and/or delays.

And that’s just a small piece of what automation can do, Rauscher said. Order processing automation also allows merchants to:

Reduce the time for inventory management and sales processes
Speed the processes that keep merchandise moving
Monitor and coordinate the progress of these steps with full visibility
Enable full auditability of critical processes
Increase process transparency throughout the organization
Eliminate inaccuracies and inefficiencies caused by manual or inefficient processes

Without connected enterprise-wide automation, etailers would require tremendous—and costly–manual effort to accomplish what they do every day, Rauscher said.

Jim Tierney (jim.tierney@penton.com) is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-899-8449.