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A modern solution to an age-old problem

A clever little catering business with a beautiful problem knocked on our door. Business was booming. Orders were flying in. But - like so many high-growth businesses experience - they had outgrown their systems.

The addition of a seasonal product put pressure on their processes. While selling the seasonal product they went from event organisation to inventory management, the latter requiring inventory tracking, order confirmation, options for delayed and upfront payment, order changes and significant supply chain co-ordination. All of this managed by email and a simple Google sheet.

For a while these systems worked, until the business grew. The current processes and systems were stressful and required significant input from the business owner. They came to M.LAB with the request to make the current systems work more efficiently.

So, we had them plot the current order process.  For a period of 2-3 months each year, customers would place an order for a number of items. Each ‘order’ was subject to change and could result in an exchange of up to 20 emails back and forth between the business and the customer.

Times that by hundreds of customers and you get an unwieldy, highly stressful number of interactions, over ordering and sleepless nights.

We identified actually they didn’t need just better processes, they needed a new system that would support their growing business. A system that would streamline process and make order management more manageable.  A system that could track inventory in real time, offer admin relief through automated fulfilment emails, allow payment (if required) and co-ordinate pick-up and delivery timeframes seamlessly. A system that would increase their potential customer base, allow them to increase product categories and create up-sell opportunities without added pressure on the business owner.

Enter Woo-Commerce. Scoped initially as a back-end system to replace the Google spreadsheet, the project quickly expanded to a new front end too, with the capacity for automated emails to completely take over order management.

This was a much bigger solution than our catering business client initially briefed, but we projected the efficiencies that could be gained, and they came on board. The new more capable system would take care of the details while the owners could do what they do best: sell.

The result? Over that first season, it was evident the cost of the initial website development offset by savings in admin time. And because the website offered up-sells,  average order values increased immediately.

 

THE MARKETING LESSON

Some marketing problems are about sales, some are about awareness or customer retention. And some, well they’re about trying to reclaim time, increase efficiencies and refocus your efforts.

Great business ideas often suffer from the unique problem of too many customers. Managing those customers well comes down to having the right tool for the job.

That tool is probably quite different to the tools (systems) your business started with. The world of technology offers so many opportunities to increase efficiencies and sales. The challenge lies in correctly diagnosing what’s truly holding a business back. Only then can the right system be identified and tailored to your needs. A system that's applied will last you through the next phase of growth.

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