On the Job
Order clerks take and process orders for materials, merchandise, and services.
There are hundreds of light bulb jokes. These always begin, "How many X does it take to screw in a light bulb?" There are light bulb jokes that poke fun at bureaucrats, doctors, politicians, and so on. You name it, there's a light bulb joke for it. There is even one for order clerks - one to take the order, one to complete the requisition form, one to process the order. . . Didn't think that one was very funny? Well, it's not. Truthfully, order clerks are usually quite efficient at their jobs.Order clerks receive orders by telephone. They enter information in computers as customers place their orders. First, clerks ask customers for specific information, such as their name, address, and credit card or account number. Then they ask customers for the product number and number of items they wish to purchase. As clerks enter the order, the computer tells them if the products are in stock and how much they cost. If items are back-ordered, clerks tell customers the expected arrival date. If customers cannot wait for items to arrive, clerks suggest similar products. Clerks who take orders from businesses rather than individuals occasionally give price estimates for entire jobs, not just single items. Once orders are placed, clerks route them to the departments that will send out or deliver the ordered items. In addition to their other duties, order clerks also listen to and resolve customers' complaints. Order clerks are also called order-entry clerks, order processors, or order takers.
Order clerks also receive orders by regular mail, e-mail, fax, and the Internet. Clerks review orders for completeness. If information is missing or cannot be read, clerks call the customer. In addition, clerks contact customers if they request information about shipping dates or prices. Once orders are complete, clerks remove the checks and money orders, sort them, and send them on for processing. Finally, clerks enter all this information into the computer.
In organizations that use computer systems, inventory records are adjusted automatically as sales are made. In less automated organizations, order clerks adjust inventory records. For example, a clerk takes an order for bolts. The clerk then verifies that the bolts are sent and subtracts the order from the inventory control form. These clerks also notify other departments when inventories are low or when orders will use up supplies. In addition, they prepare invoices and shipping documents to make sure they are filed correctly. They may also create reports for management about past orders.
Some order clerks examine orders before they are shipped. They compare the items in boxes against the packing lists. When they find incomplete or incorrect orders, clerks send them back for correction. Clerks may also track down missing and late merchandise. They talk to shippers or coworkers in the shipping room to find the boxes. Sometimes they ask coworkers to rush special orders.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Receive orders by phone, fax, regular mail, e-mail, and the Internet.
- Determine if ordered items are available.
- Enter order information into computer.
- Calculate final cost of ordered items or services.
- Review orders for completeness and get missing information.
- Contact customers and give information, such as shipping dates and prices.
- Verify customer information.
- Receive and handle customer complaints.
- Try to sell additional products or services to customers.
- Prepare invoices and shipping documents.
- Give orders to the department that will send out or deliver the ordered items.
- Make sure shipments match customers' orders.
- Check inventory and update records.
- Notify other departments when orders will use up supplies.
- Talk with other workers to speed up processing of delayed shipments and to locate missing items.
- File copies of orders received.
- Remove, sort, and process checks and money orders received by mail.
- Suggest similar products if items ordered are not available.
- Recommend type of packing or labeling order needs.
- Prepare reports for management.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Use computers.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Process information.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Document and record information.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Analyze data or information.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They work closely with customers and coworkers most of the time.
- Often deal with unpleasant or angry customers. Order clerks must receive and handle customer complaints.
- Are placed in conflict situations on a weekly basis.
- Are responsible for coworkers' health and safety.
- Communicate with customers and coworkers daily by telephone.
- Often communicate with customers and coworkers in person and by e-mail.
- Write letters and memos on a monthly basis.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Almost always work indoors.
- Are often exposed to contaminants when receiving and sorting orders from the mail.
- Often are exposed to very hot or cold temperatures. This can occur if they work in a warehouse.
- Work near their coworkers. They may share their work space, which can sometimes expose them to sounds and noise levels that are distracting.
- Must be exact in their work so that customers receive their entire order.
- Repeat the same physical activities, such as entering order information into the computer.
- Regularly make decisions that affect customers.
- Are usually able to make decisions and determine tasks without talking to a supervisor.
- Must sometimes meet strict deadlines.
- Usually work 40 hours per week.
- May work nights, weekends, and holidays, especially if working as a catalog order clerk.
- May work overtime during busy periods, especially around the winter holidays.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same movements.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.