Bolster Your Import and Export Process Before the Holidays

by
November 17, 2020

This content was contributed by DataAutomation.

Retailers know that the Holiday seasons show a marked increase in sales. Business sales increase from 20 to 30 percent depending on your business. COVID-19 has also shown a marked increase in business sales. Online consumers shopping increased by five percent from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter. Because the pandemic is continuing, it’s feasible to think that combining the holiday season with the pandemic, your online holiday sales could increase more than in previous years. 

Therefore, as you approach the holiday season, it’s wise to take a look at how you receive orders, how you get them ready to mail, and how you ship them to your consumers. Your current system might be good enough for the usual volume of business you conduct each day. But during November and December, the amount of product you move will increase dramatically. If you prepare, you could bolster your customer base in such a way that new customers will stay with you long after the holidays.

The Best Timing to Make Changes

You might wonder if you should analyze your company now or wait. Obviously, you don’t want to do it during the busy retail months. Also, if you wait until after the holidays, you won’t bolster your systems for the holiday rush.

Now may be the best time to analyze your systems, address the weak spots, and implement changes. You may want to shift from entering things manually into a spreadsheet. You may want to automate part of your business and use a spreadsheet for other parts. You may want to fully automate.

Every company’s needs are different. But all companies can benefit from making proactive changes. It gives you time to be comfortable using a new system before the holiday season starts. This, in turn, helps you be more responsive to your customers and clients, fill your orders more accurately, and communicate with your clients faster and easier.

Where do you start when analyzing your business? A good place is with your import and export processes because they have direct impact on customer satisfaction.

The Importance of Importing and Exporting Data in Customer Satisfaction

Your business depends on getting your product into the hands of your customers quickly and accurately. Errors or shipment delays can result in disgruntled customers. Studies show that dissatisfied customers are two to three times more likely to post a bad review, which is detrimental to your business. Consumers rely on online reviews. In fact, for 88 percent of consumers, an online review is as valuable as a friend’s recommendation. Moreover, one bad review has the potential of losing up to 30 customers, and it takes about 40 reviews to counteract one negative review. 

With numbers like these, it is imperative for online retailers to make sure their customers receive the best service possible. Providing great service involves not only a good product, but stellar processes in filling orders and tracking shipments. 

When you do either of those, filling orders and tracking shipments, you have to import or export data. For example, you need to import customer orders and export the information to your order fulfillment team. The order fulfillment system then imports that data and exports it to create necessary shipping information. If your import and export processes are weak, it can greatly impact your ability to help customers and potentially cost you sales. 

Problems with Manual Data Entry

Manual entry is fine when your business is small, or if the order is one-of-a-kind. This method is useful in cases where it would take more time to fill out a spreadsheet and import the information than it would to simply type it in yourself. 

However, there are several problems that occur with manual data entry. These include the following:

  • Manual entry is more prone to errors. When a person spends a lot of time transferring data from one point to another, it’s easy to leave off numbers or transpose numbers. This could result in major mistakes for your customers. For example, if you transpose the quantity number, you can either send your customer too much product or not enough. If you leave off a character in a mailing address or an email, the merchandise could be sent to the wrong location.
  • Manual entry leads to burnout. When you or an employee spends a lot of time transferring data, it can become boring and repetitive. This in turn can cause frustration or lack of attention to detail, which then results in errors. 
  • Manual entry also takes time, It takes the time you could be spending on growing your business. It takes the time you could otherwise spend on customer service. It takes the time you could use to develop new product ideas. Bottomline, it takes time away from your core business.
  • Manual entry is slow and laborious. Holiday customers want their products shipped accurately and quickly, but having to take the time to enter the data by hand slows down the process. With the potential for increased business during the holiday season, a slow response time could hurt your business. 

Automating Your Import and Export Systems Fixes Problems of Manual Entry

When you automate your business, it provides solutions for the problems of manual entry.

  • Automating is more accurate in data transfer. There are fewer errors because it copies and relays the information exactly as it was entered in the first place.
  • Automating provides the opportunity for more variety in a business. Because one person isn’t stuck with data entry tasks, his or her time is freed up allowing more creative juices to flow, which can benefit your business. 
  • Automating gives you back valuable time. With menial tasks handled by the computer instead of the person, you have time to devote to growing your business, building customer relationships, and creating opportunities to generate new product ideas.
  • Automating helps you handle the increase in orders that come during the holiday season, which helps with customer satisfaction.

Know when Automating Makes Sense

Automating doesn’t make sense for everyone. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your business’s automation processes.  Doany of the following situations apply to your business: 

  • You sell your product through various online niche stores or through your own website, and these sites are not already integrated as part of the ShipStation marketplace.
  • You attend trade shows, boutiques, or other events where you sell many items in person that need to be shipped and you’re entering those orders manually.
  • You have partners who are not using ShipStation such as a drop shipper or a third-party logistics partner (3PL) and you’re sending those orders to them manually and getting tracking back from them manually
  • You manage and track your inventory using a system different from ShipStation and are having a hard time syncing up the systems.
  • You meet the 15-1-1 rule: 
    • You spend more than 15 mins on a daily task.
    • You spend more than 1 hour on a weekly task. 
    • You spend more than 1 hour per month on a monthly task.

If you meet the criteria above, automating your business makes sense. It helps you prepare for the increased volume during the holiday season. Automating can increase customer satisfaction by ensuring greater accuracy and speed in delivering your products to your customers. It can alleviate the problems associated with manual data entry and give you more time to focus on your core business. 

Automating doesn’t need to be scary. There are tools that can help you automate, from spreadsheets to APIs to full integration. Implementing any of these can bolster your sales, your customer satisfaction, and your bottom line!   

DataAutomation has solutions for each of the problems mentioned above. To learn more about how DataAutomation can help, visit DataAutomation.com.

DataAutomation offers a free 15-30 min consultation and five-minute video tutorials to help you begin automating any portion of your import/export tasks. If you are interested, send an email to [email protected], and we will schedule a time to meet with you.

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