The Ordering Process – an important part of the Customer Journey

“No, I didn’t get a whatsapp…wait, I’ll check my email…hold on, you sent it by DM?”

This is what a lot of customer conversations sound like for a small business owner. With product development now moving quickly from idea to production, a smooth ordering process is not always priority – but it should be! Even for a single product business, not having an ordering process is inefficient, prone to mistakes and importantly, could prevent frustrated customers from completing their customer journey. 

A (very) simplified customer journey, could look something like this:

In an ideal scenario, your customer moves along through each process, all the way through to receiving and becoming an advocate for your brand.

However, at any point in this journey, your customer could stop. Imagine this: they’re interested, do the research and get to the ordering stage, and become so frustrated by the ordering process, that they drop out…

That means they’ve seen your product, researched it, were this close to paying and then gave up. In a ‘brick and mortar’ retail scenario, this would be equivalent to your product being on the top shelf, and there being no one in the store to help them get it down. In a virtual retail scenario, this is the equivalent of managing your orders by conversations. 

Along our customer’s journey, it is important to control outcomes as much as you possibly can, and one very simple way to do this, is to create an order process. The word ‘process,’ conjures up some scary imagery (I see you OrgManagement101 class…), but it just means that we need to break things down step by step:

Step 1:

Write down each product, and every iteration of each product – size, colour, flavour, scent being a few options, e.g.: 

Hand Sanitizer 10 oz Lemon Scent
Hand Sanitizer 12 oz Lemon Scent
Hand Sanitizer 10 oz Peppermint Scent
Hand Sanitizer 12 oz Peppermint Scent

Step 2: 

Add the price for each option, e.g.: 

Hand Sanitizer 10 oz Lemon Scent $5
Hand Sanitizer 12 oz Lemon Scent $7
Hand Sanitizer 10 oz Peppermint Scent $5
Hand Sanitizer 12 oz Peppermint Scent $7

The result of Steps 1 and 2 is a price list, which you can then share with customers. Unless your product is custom, do not fall into the trap of – ‘DM me for price,’ that is an immediate turn off. Everyone’s money is the same colour, and your cost is your cost. You should not be worried about your competitor seeing your price, because you should already be priced within the range that the market can bear. 

Pick a price and stick with it, with a possible exception for bulk orders.

Unless your product is custom, do not fall into the trap of – ‘DM me for price,’ that is an immediate turn off.

Step 3:

Think about all the details you’ll need from your customers. 

  • Obviously the product they’re selecting from your newly created list
  • The quantity
  • Their name
  • Phone number and/or email address (we STRONGLY recommend getting both, and making the email address required information)
  • Fulfilment details – delivery, collection
  • Payment method – cash on delivery, online, bank transfer

Step 4:

Decide how you will collect, store and action orders through to fulfilment.

To preempt you, the answer is NOT – any old way that they get it to you. You want an efficient, reliable and most importantly single and central point for orders. While an email address can work, that method still leaves you open to back and forth communication, which is what we’re trying to eliminate. Therefore, we suggest an online form. It allows customers to review your products, select what they want, and easily input the information that you need to fulfil their order – no back and forth required. You keep them moving quickly along on their customer journey, like a Ferrari on the German Autobahn, straight to payment and fulfilment.

Before stressing about creating an online form – there are several free and paid options available. Google Forms, Typeform are options that exist independently of any website, so if you don’t yet have one, you can still have virtual ordering. Both options have limitations, such as not being able to manage inventory capacity or only allowing a certain number of orders before having to migrate to a paid version. You’ll also have to figure out how to create each form yourself. 

However, PortalForms is another option for virtual order processing. Your business will get a professional-looking form that we create for you, on a custom microsite (e.g., by completing our form and sharing the critical information that we laid out in the Steps 1-4 above. PortalForms also offers order process support services such as customer support and invoicing, through The Portal, at an incremental monthly cost.

Managing a small business is hard work; but taking time to step back and review your customer journey is worth it, as it can only improve how you deliver your product to your customer, and will allow you to streamline and focus on other important business areas.

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The Portal helps busy decision-makers to streamline & manage tasks; freeing up their time.