A student goes online to check her schedule for the upcoming term. She clicks on the registrar’s link which takes her directly to the college store site and prepopulates the online shopping cart with her required course materials. After reviewing the contents of the shopping cart, she selects in-store pickup to avoid shipping costs and checks out. The whole experience was easy, and she never once had to wait in line. She arrives in the bookstore on the designated date and time to pick up her order — ready to start a new term. This is a reality more and more students are experiencing. However, what goes on behind the scenes at the college store to make this possible?
As students avoid the lines and save time, how does the bookstore manage rush and an influx of online orders? Let’s take a closer look.
How to streamline web order fulfillment processes
To begin streamlining web order fulfillment, consider each aspect of order management:
- Identifying orders to be picked
When creating your picking list select a format that has the options your store needs: break out merchandise and textbooks, include product images, etc. At times you might want to work with individual orders and at other times it might be best to bulk pick items for a batch. By creating pick lists that best suit your specific needs, you can simplify the process for store associates and add efficiency to how the orders come together.
- Managing priority orders and back orders
It is always best to plan ahead. When looking to streamline web order fulfillment, make sure you have plans in place for exactly what to do to ensure priority orders are picked first and plans for how to manage back orders and notify customers. By planning for these occurrences before rush, you ensure your staff does not lose valuable time trying to find a solution.
- Picking the orders
How does the day typically go during rush? Is the store consistently busy through the entire day? Are there busier times and some lulls? Plan out order picking around the typical structure of your day. If the store is consistently busy all day, you might want to have employees come in before the store opens to pick orders. If there are slower points through the day, then plan to have employees pick orders at those times.
- Notifying students
After orders are placed and picked, students need to know they can come to pick up their order. Create email or SMS messages that are automatically sent out after the order is packed. This ensures customers are always alerted in a timely manner and that your store shares any necessary instructions.
Since automatic messaging might not be right in every scenario, the MBS system gives stores the option to send messages automatically, on delay or through manual release. You can also set up automatic, delayed or manually released messages to notify customers that their orders have been picked up.
- Distributing orders to students
Consider offering students more pickup and delivery options that can also help streamline your workflow. For example, with MBS inSite, stores can choose from multiple student distribution configurations. You might choose a location-based distribution where shoppers can select curbside or in-store and create pick lists by distribution location. You could further streamline store traffic by choosing to assign shoppers specific pickup hours. Or, if student convenience is a priority for your store, you might let shoppers schedule a pickup time that suits their schedule.
MBS Store Technology Solutions partners can check out a helpful guide for how to set up order pickup distribution here.
Add convenience and efficiency with mobile technology
What if you could add efficiency by updating your order status while items are being picked or distributed. That’s what mobile technology offers. Stores can gain more flexibility, giving them the power to create picking batches, scan and automatically validate each item picked, and then finalize package pickups or order shipments.
An online order comes in. The staff member doesn’t need to print a picking list for the order. They simply use the handheld device to retrieve the order, scanning each item as they go. The device makes it easy to verify the accuracy of the items scanned as well as complete the finalization steps for the order.
The MBS system provides stores with the technology they need to streamline their web order fulfillment process.
“Our online in-store order pickup always drives a ton of our back-to-school rush traffic. It has increased dramatically over the last five to seven years. We were jam-packed with web order pick up areas because of the sheer volume of web orders we were getting on a daily basis. We use MBS inSite and are always making little tweaks to what we do to improve efficiency. We heavily rely on the mobile order processing tool to scan our books to ensure we are giving customers the right books and there are fewer issues on the back end. The pickup utility has been phenomenal for us in terms of quick, accurate answers for customers. So, if a student comes in and says they didn’t get a book or didn’t pick up their box, we can pull it up easily on inSite without having to go through all the signed slips,” said Andi Stipp, Shocker Stores Director, Wichita State University.
Read more about streamlining order fulfillment.