There’s a debate going on in B2B commerce about “touchless” sales order processing. Touchless order processing just means you don’t need a human to watch, review, check, or do anything else to an order when it’s received from the customer, like making sure product codes and pricing are correct. On the one side you have touchless believers (in part because that’s what they already do), and on the other, advocates of automated checks plus a quick review by human eyes, called “click and go.”
Many companies have already achieved touchless orders on a very high percentage of their order volume, and you need to look no further than Amazon for a very simple example of completely automated order processing. On any given Saturday morning, you, along with thousands of others, made a one-click purchase on Amazon. That order made its way to a fulfilment center uninterrupted by human scanning because of interconnected software.
Getting there is not hard
Touchless order processing is best achieved with the right combination of data capture tools and algorithmic checks based on your company’s business rules and customer master data.
The key element of a touchless order is the format, quality and consistency of the message. In other words, it’s all about readability – regardless of whether it is a structured, typed form (such as a spreadsheet), a fax, or an electronic form filled out via an internet/web portal, or the standard EDI purchase order. Algorithmic checks can be written for just about anything – if customer order date is X, then send order to Y. Many companies, realising they need these kinds of checks, start building them in their ERP systems using inflexible custom code.
But before long these DIY firms end up with a lot of expensive software modifications as they seek to automate more and more of their inbound order steps. I know of one company whose order checks are so complex that some of their large customer orders can take up to several hours to process. As a result, their customer responsiveness declines.
But aren’t human checks better? No.