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Handling Online Shopping Order Volumes

A common question I hear from retailers getting started in online shopping is, “How do I handle a varying number of orders?” I reached out to Brian Moyer, Co-Founder & CEO of Freshop, to hear what he’s seeing throughout the industry. Here’s what he had to say:

Order volume: Concerned about getting orders out the door? There a couple of easy ways to control the flow.

  1. Staff as a secondary to start. Train a cashier and have order notifications going to management. Once an order comes in you would have a couple of hours to get a window where the lanes are slow to get the order picked. The biggest danger to start is not having the order ready when the customer shows up, so monitoring notices is critical.
  2. As you grow, the personal shopper will become more and more dedicated. To manage labor costs, provide tasking on where they should be working when no orders need to be picked and have a way to track those hours to charge the department using the resource. Front-end is simplest, but many stores need help in other departments and it will help your personal shopper better understand each and to develop relationships to assist in picking the right products.
  3. Don’t advertise until processes and training are complete. You won’t get buried in orders until you market and drive traffic.
  4. Limit slots (how many orders per hour) and give yourself lead time. With a three-hour lead, a picker can keep up with three orders per hour as you won’t see three orders for every hour slot.
  5. Leverage dynamic slots. By default, a slot that is used does not show for a new order to be placed BUT Freshop will free up a slot when that order is marked “Ready for pickup”. If you allow just one order at Noon and require a two-hour lead time, once an order is placed other shoppers won’t see Noon available on that day. If, however, you pick and mark that order “Ready for pickup” before the deadline for ordering (in this case 10 AM) shoppers will now see the Noon time slot again. You could keep picking and marking orders ready and theoretically do unlimited orders until 10 AM arrives when the slot would not show in any case. If you are too busy, just don’t mark the order ready until after the cutoff at 10 AM.
  6. Train backup. Most cashiers can be trained on using the app in about 15 minutes by doing an order or two with a lead shopper. Freshop may be installed on any iOS or Android device, allowing personal shoppers to use their personal device gives you some scale without having more devices. They typically welcome the opportunity to use their own rather than carrying a second device.
  7. Train upstream. Management should know how to pick and have the app installed. Using a shift lead to pick a top shopper’s order is a good way to strengthen relationships with customers

These simple steps will keep you processing orders and providing a great shopper experience without breaking the bank. Once you get up to about eight orders a day, you’ll need to have a full time personal shopper with one or more backups ready to help during peak times.

Thanks to Brian for his insights. You can learn more about Freshop at freshop.com. Interested in learning more about online grocery? I’d be happy to answer any questions or schedule a demo for you with any of AWG’s preferred partners.

Why do I work at AWG? “I love being a part of a fun team that creates unique ways to help independent grocery stores grow their businesses. It combines a few of my favorite things: marketing, food, and fun. Who doesn’t want to talk about food all day?” -Jimmy