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An order clerk processes customer orders. He or she may work in a retail store or wholesale warehouse. A high school diploma or its equivalent, plus good customer service and math skills are typically required to work as an order clerk. Order clerks usually must understand computer spreadsheet programs and work with different types of processing software.
Customers' orders may be received by the clerk by telephone, computer, or mail. Alternatively, a supervisor may dispense the orders to the order clerk for processing. Order clerks or supervisors first check the account of the person or company ordering to make sure there are no outstanding bills and credit approval was authorized.
Checking lists of available stock is routinely done by order clerks. If the order clerk can't fill everything on a customer's order due to something being out of stock, company policy in that situation must be followed. In some companies, the clerk must notify the customer, while in others, order clerks add a polite note apologizing for the item being out of stock and advise of a backorder. A backorder is an industry term for supplying a customer's currently out of stock order at a later date. If too many customer purchase orders require backorders, inventory management is considered poor and customer service often suffers.
Checking pricing is another responsibility of most order clerks. The clerk must be sure each customer's invoice contains accurate pricing, since some customers may have special discounts for buying in bulk. An invoice is a company document that lists the pricing and quantity of products purchased. It includes taxes as well as shipping or other charges. Unless a company is small, the order clerk usually passes the invoices to an invoicing clerk; in smaller companies, order clerks may process each invoice using a computer system.
Handling customer complaints and following up on orders are necessary tasks for an order clerk. For this reason, order clerks must have top-notch customer service skills. They have to calmly and efficiently solve problems such as missing shipments, inaccurate pricing or the customer receiving the wrong item. An order clerk's job can become hectic, as he or she may have to resolve several customer problems during the course of a typical workday.
Order clerks work in most industries. Their salaries vary widely depending on their duties and years of experience. Some order clerks get promoted to warehouse managers or technical experts in their industry. For the most part, an order clerk works regular business hours and receives benefits such as medical insurance, a retirement plan and vacation pay.