How does the system capture and store information? One of the key functions of mail order processing is to capture two main categories of information. The user must capture the product information, because without this there is no way to link the buyer to the product or service they purchased. So you first need a list of products and product IDs or codes. These are typically some sort of SKU. If you have a drop ship business it’s best to use the manufacturer’s SKU. Your software should allow you to manually input or automatically import this information. You also need to capture the customer’s information including name, company, billing address, shipping address, telephone, email, and any notes. Customer information should also be importable from another program or file to make things easy.
Can multiple users work on the mail order processing software? These type of systems typically have a single database and the actual user interface. Multiple users should be able to work on the platform at once to enable your business to grow. If the system is software located on your PC or Mac then the computers will need to be on a network together to allow this. If the system is web-based then the users just access it through their web browsers. A key function to have is user-based security which requires a login and password for each user. This lets you view the mail order information by user for productivity analysis.
How does the system handle increasing volume? A mail order or drop shipping business will only be profitable if you have a large volume of transactions. This means your mail order processing software must be able to scale to accommodate large transaction volume. As mentioned above, you will likely have multiple people entering customer, product, and order data. When things get busy there will be several users working at the same time as fast as they can. The last thing you want is to have speed limitations when volume escalates and you have the opportunity to make a lot of profits. Make sure you look at the performance figures provided by the software vendor to ensure they’re good enough to accommodate big growth in your business without infrastructure reinvestment.
Are users able to learn the mail order processing system quickly and at low cost? one of the hidden costs of software is user training. Not everybody will understand immediately how the software works. You will have employee turnover to deal with occasionally, along with learning the new system when it’s installed. If the software takes a long time to learn or requires expensive training, then you need to factor that into your budget. Be sure to ask about training before you buy, including a realistic training budget. Also look for detailed online or electronic manuals, and user forums and online help that are updated regularly. This can be a great help when a user runs into a situation that needs to be fixed quickly!