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March 03, 2015

5 Steps to Organizing Orders for your Handmade Business

When you start a handmade business, you go through a bit of a juggling act trying to figure out all the details of operating it and how you’re going to gain new customers while keeping existing ones happy. First impressions are everything and you don’t want to get a bad rap for being disorganized, loosing orders or for miscommunications. Here are 5 steps you can take to stay on top of orders:

  1. Use one email for your business – you don’t want to search through 5 different email accounts when figuring out the orders you have to fill for customers, boutiques and craft shows. Create one email that is solely for your business and use it for communicating with customers and signing up for any business related tools or platforms (i.e social media accounts, online marketplaces, etc.). Create folders within that account and sort emails as you receive them. Your email is an extension of your brand so no silly names when setting up your account. Use your business name or a version of it if that’s taken.
  2. Use a system that will track payments for you – this will really help you out if there’s ever a dispute over whether someone paid you or not. If you accept payment through an EMT (Email Money Transfer) or a platform like PayPal, you’ll have records of when money was transferred and you can easily keep track of sales. Nothin's gettin "lost in the mail" ;)
  3. Have clear policies in place – these should be steps you take with each order to ensure they run smoothly. Sending an email upon each sale, not starting an order until payment is made, sending invoices when payments are received and emailing a tracking number when the item has been shipped, will keep you organized and ensure good customer service.
  4. Communicate your polices –after all; what good are they if people don't know about them? Keep your customers in the loop by letting them know the process they can expect once an order is placed. This will help you avoid angry emails from people wondering where their order is when you haven't even started it due to their lack of payment.
  5. Find a tracking system that works for you – running a successful business has a lot to do with tracking. Tacking expenses, inventory, sales and of course your orders. How else will you know if you're making a profit or growing from last month? There are so many tools for staying organized these days, it’s easy to find one that works for you. If it’s a good ‘ol sheet of paper you can tack up and highlight as you complete orders, that’s great! If online is more your thing, you can try websites like Evernote, Trello or even use a simple Excel spreadsheet. Make note of the date, item ordered, important details and a way to signify when it has been completed and shipped (check out our free printable for tracking's stylish & handy!). Get in the habit of using your system as soon as an order comes in so you can stay on top of them and keep customers happy.

Do you have any best practices when it comes to keeping your handmade business organized? Feel free to chime in below!

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