If there’s an area that most online shops give little attention, it is the process flow. Yet, it is the most important element of the eCommerce business and can maximise sales and growth. Mapping out your process flow helps in improving business performance. Whether your eCommerce site is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, here is a process flow for your online shop. The following is an example of how interior design firms sell products online.
Step 1: Creating a cart
The visitor on your website selects a product and adds it to a cart. If the customer leaves the website before completing the purchase, the system retains the cart for a specified period of time. They are reminded about it when they come back. At this point, you won’t need the customer to register for an account on your website. Inventory check, pricing, product availability, and discounts are all done at this stage.
Step 2: Proceed to checkout
The customer has decided to purchase the product and therefore the first step of checking out is initiated. At this point, the customer might need to register for an account on your website to be able to proceed.
Step 3: Add an address
The customer adds their billing and shipping address. They also include the type of delivery they would prefer, for example, express delivery. If the customer has registered for an account on your website, the information can be automatically retrieved by the system. Otherwise, they will have to manually input the information. The total amount, including shipping costs, is calculated.
Step 4: Add a payment method
The customer will choose if they want to pay through a credit card or via an online payment platform such as PayPal. The payment method selected is then registered and verified. The verification could be instant or take time depending on how the website has set up its payment process. It can also depend on whether the transaction is business-to-business or business-to-consumer.
Step 5: Order processing
The customer confirms the purchase and an order number is created. The customer receives a message confirming the order and they can view the order status reading as ‘In Progress’. The shop checks its warehouse and inventory for the product and arranges for shipment. Once the shipment is verified, the order is released and the status changes to ‘Shipping’.
Step 6: Add to the picklist
A picklist is what the warehouse uses to organise physical shipping of the ordered product. All the products in the order are added to the picklist and a paper slip, known as the packing slip, containing details of the shipment is attached to the package.
Step 7: Order shipped
A shipment validation number and a tracking number are generated. The status of the order appears as ‘Completed’. The tracking number is used to convey the progress of the delivery.
Step 8: Returns and Exchanges
This is the final step. The customer can request for a return or an exchange under given conditions such as the product being broken during shipment or incorrect shipment. The status of the order will change to ‘Awaiting Exchange’. Decor and design items may not match the house and the consumer may want to send it back. The customer can decide whether they want a refund or an exchange.
You can integrate your website with external systems to streamline the process flow and make online shopping easy for your customers. You will need a financial system for payment and invoice management, a customer relationship management system for customer profiles and contact details, and an enterprise resource management system for pricing, warehouse and inventory management. Always consider a service provider who can provide all the systems at once rather than having to source each system from different vendors. It will be cheaper and less chaotic.