Automating sales order processing for a low-touch economy

Industry 4.0 is transforming supply chains and how companies order new products and services. Gartner has predicted that by 2023, 50% of large global companies will use automated tools in their supply chains. They promise to improve transparency in information flows, reduce transaction costs and enable companies to better analyze data, predict requirements and optimize inventory levels.

Transforming processes in the supply chain can be a daunting undertaking. However, sales order processing is ripe for modernization. For a long time, it has been a highly manual operation, and manual operations present the possibility for mistakes in costing, errors in quantities and slower order fulfillment.

Manual sales order processing also makes it more difficult for suppliers to plan and budget, or highlight and service urgent orders. It can create errors in your ordering process and lead to additional expenses around reshipping and restocking, production delays, inventory problems and missed or wrong orders. This could result in giving customers an experience that might lead to them not coming back.

The benefits of automation in order processing

Using digital technologies to automate your ordering process has an immediate impact on resource usage. Less actual human labor is required, and you spend less processing orders overall. This can free up workers to be reallocated to more high-value tasks in your organization.

Automation also gives you greater visibility of your order processing. You can mitigate risk, while also improving forecasting, workflow prioritization, budgeting and planning. There is a consequent benefit of all this in improved customer experience (CX): your order processing and customer service teams can resolve any issues more quickly thanks to them having instant access to order documentation.

It also delivers improved speed, accuracy and efficiency. When you can quickly and accurately input a customer’s order into the supply chain through a digital dashboard, there is a cascade of benefits throughout the whole system. Your shipping and logistics teams have more time to coordinate the delivery of products, for example, and historic data can be analyzed to help you improve the process on a continuing basis. In the low-touch economy, automated order processing can help you optimize processes and also be an effective way to reduce costs.

Automated order processing at Orange

Orange Business Services Hong Kong has recently digitally transformed the ordering process we give to our own customers. We have upgraded and automated the system to enable our customers to purchase products and services online from us. It helps to lower operational costs, gives customers a smoother process and a better, more efficient experience overall. Furthermore, it is something that customers have asked us about in the past, so we are happy to address a demand that makes customers more satisfied.

How have we done it? We are giving customers access to an online portal through which they can order products and services from us. The order is processed by automated tools quickly and smoothly, and we’re then able to fulfill the order for them. We are pleased to be able to offer this kind of enhanced service to customers.

However, it’s also important to note that automating our order processing systems does not mean simply replacing human workers. Orange recognizes that while automation increases the efficiency and accuracy of routine tasks, human staff members are still necessary for higher-level planning and relationship work.

There are times when a situation might need escalating to a human agent to resolve an issue, and that’s still there for customers should they need it. But by automating our ordering process, we are streamlining a key business issue for customers, helping them make their own procurement process more efficient and addressing the need for zero-touch business operations in a post-COVID-19 world. It helps companies save time and save money and gives them something they want.

Research shows that 30% of supply chain professionals feel they must respond to customer demand for faster, more accurate order fulfillment. Automation of your ordering process can be a great start towards that goal.

If you would like to discuss automation, the low-touch economy or anything else mentioned in this blog, please drop me a line on edmund.yick@orange.com.

Edmund Yick
Edmund Yick

Edmund Yick is General Manager of Orange Business Services in Hong Kong and Taiwan. He is responsible for developing and managing the Orange Business Services portfolio of business solutions for multinational enterprises.

He has over 30 years of sales and management experience and is a Commerce and Business Administration graduate of the University of Toronto.