Difficulty Tracking Orders Poses an Array of Problems

Changing the method buyers use to track orders to one that provides order status updates will save time and help government healthcare buyers maintain operational excellence.

Government healthcare buyers spend their days conducting market research and purchasing the everyday items their facility depends on. These items vary depending on facility and departments but one thing’s for sure: they all require shipping. Most suppliers will send an order confirmation email immediately following the purchase and some will even notify the buyer once the order has finished processing, but the challenge lies with tracking. Vendors without the technological capability to provide online tracking force their customers to reach out either via phone or email just to inquire on the estimated time of arrival for their package. While this might not be problematic to some buyers, others find this task to be cumbersome and time consuming depending on the supplier. 

Some suppliers can be hard to get in touch with no matter the communication method. They might take days or weeks just to respond to an email. Others could have automated customer service systems, making it nearly impossible to reach a human being. Or worse; you get transferred from department to department. While not all suppliers are like this, there are a majority out there that still abide by such practices. However, it’s the suppliers that put the customer first and make their lives easier even in the slightest that prove to be the most reliable. After all, being able to track orders is just one part of a great customer service team. Buyers need tracking updates because it: 

  • Keeps them informed. 

  • Ensures shipping address is inputted and spelled correctly. 

  • Provides an estimated time of arrival so buyers know when to expect the item. 

  • Prevents unnecessary fees or costs. 

  • Decreases the likelihood of delays. 

With today’s tech-infused world, it should come as a surprise that a majority of suppliers are still using outdated methods or systems for tracking and checking on order status. Not only does this lead to more hassle and headaches for their customers, but it can contribute to shipping and fulfillment problems. These problems range from lost packages to damaged products, fees and/or high shipping costs, and delayed deliveries. While some suppliers do provide online tracking, their systems might not be providing updates in real time. This is because most systems are delayed and only update the tracking information every few hours, but others can take up to a full day. This makes it incredibly difficult for customers, like these government healthcare buyers, to know if they’ll have the product in time for when they need it. It also poses a threat to buyers when they have urgent requests, such as Emergency Procurement Requests (ERPs), and need an item to be procured as quickly as possible. Without status updates or easily accessible tracking information, the buyer is essentially clueless as to when that request can be fulfilled and can negatively impact operations. 

If these healthcare buyers aren’t able to estimate what products will arrive by when, then it can throw off their inventory levels. Department Supply Managers and buyers in the Logistics or Warehouse department plan, schedule, track, monitor, and dispatch inventory so that they are able to fulfill clinicians’ orders at all times. If these employees encounter difficulty managing their inventory levels, then it could have a direct effect on patients. These consequences can include delaying or canceling procedures, avoidable patient days (moving the patient to other facilities or their home once appropriate) and using alternative solutions that might be less effective. All of which can be emotionally or physically draining and potentially slow down patient healing. 

Tracking an order is of vital importance especially in the government healthcare space. Buyers can check and see if weather conditions will impact delivery or if any other technical issues arise to prevent the carrier from delivering, such as maintenance work on or around the building. Additionally, if a buyer needs a package redirected, they are able to ensure that their request is fulfilled and can locate where the package is at all times in transit. During peak seasons of delivery, such as around the holidays, buyers can stay in the loop and anticipate the arrival of their package despite any delays. In doing so, they are able to accurately predict their inventory levels which helps reduce costs and maintain operational excellence. With smooth operations and a well-managed inventory, clinicians are able to best serve their patients and provide them with the care they deserve. To conclude, by selecting vendors with an online platform that provides updates will help buyers save time and forecast inventory levels so they can focus on what matters most: their patients.