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Data Entry: What Data Entry Error Rate is Acceptable?

Manual data entry processes are laden with the risk of errors or mishandling. In a business world where the value of accurate data is at an all-time high, the cost of data inaccuracy has never been more painful. So, what data entry error rate do you consider an acceptable risk to customer satisfaction and loyalty?

In the complex world of supply chain logistics, dispatching the right product in the correct quantity is a competitive edge. For any wholesale manufacturer or distributor, the race is on to improve data entry accuracy; the process needs to be as fast and error-free as possible. But this is no easy feat. When you’re converting purchase orders into sales orders, there are countless opportunities for data entry and order processing to go awry.

Manual Data Entry Challenges

Any mistake is bad news. Incorrect values mean inaccurate data, and even a marginal data quality gap represents a significant stumbling block for your organization’s sales operations. Unfortunately, when you leave sales data processing in the hands of a human data entry team tasked with laborious, time-inefficient, and low-value manual handling, 100% reliable data is a practical fantasy.

Outsourcing data entry is not an answer, as it only serves to amplify the risks.

Even the most forgiving statistics in data entry work reveal an average human error rate of 1%. In the context of sales operations, that means that if your CSR is tasked with processing 1000 orders, you can expect 10 to be incorrect. And that equates to 10 out of every 1000 sales requiring investigation, mitigation and resolution – not to mention a good deal of legwork to get the dissatisfied customers back onside.

A 95% Accuracy Rate

To cite another publication, in a study of human error, Dr. Panko found that when performing data entry tasks related to spreadsheets, humans will average an accuracy rate of around 95%, even when dealing with small spreadsheets. When the complexity of the spreadsheet increases, the chance of a processing error rises to virtually 100%.

Inefficiencies and errors can lead to delayed order cycles, slower payments, smaller profit margins, and erosion of customer loyalty. But unfortunately, most organizations still rely on manual sales order processing.

Most orders come in via email – some of these can run to hundreds of lines, making manual data entry and order processing a real challenge. Most orders require at least one or more manual steps (top-level data monitoring or copy-paste spreadsheet handling, for instance) before transitioning into sales orders. But each example of human interference introduces the opportunity for natural human errors.

Despite the best intentions, mistakes are simply unavoidable.

Data Entry Process Improvement

So, what is the best solution for improved data entry accuracy? To implement the automated order entry software and altogether remove the human element from order processing while still getting data into the ERP system.

Relying on EDI and web portals may be a good solution for a small number of customers. But for emailed orders (which represent nearly a majority of orders), touchless sales order automation software is the best way to ensure accurate data entry and seamlessly transform purchase orders into sales orders.

The Impact of Inaccuracy

However, finding the right solution is about more than simply the automation component. It is about finding a solution that offers 100% accuracy in touchless data entry and order processing.

Why? Let’s consider the impact of sub-par accuracy.

Imagine your long-time customer, Bill, placing a single 300-line-item order. At 99% accuracy, that would yield six errors. Increase the order to 3000 items, and the number of errors jumps to 60.

That’s an inefficiency Bill will feel in his operations, and he will not be happy about it. It’s easy to understand why he’d be unimpressed by the purchasing experience; he may even be upset enough to consider taking his business elsewhere.

Almost 78% of customers will back out of a deal due to a poor experience. (Glance).

Data Accuracy: an Order Processing Must-Have

Before that happens to your business, let’s explore the impact of resolution efforts. First, there’s the cost of extra labor to resolve the errors. Then there’s the time involved in receiving the not-so-pleasant call from Bill, reviewing the sales order, comparing it to the original customer order, and identifying the mistake. And, since this is an emergency, the situation also requires you to press ‘pause’ on entering other customer orders until the matter is resolved.

Once the correct items have been put together in a rush order and verified twice (because you can’t afford to make another mistake), the order goes to the warehouse for picking and packing. Then there’s the cost of rush freight – after all, you must get Bill the right products without further delays. Making Bill wait a moment longer than necessary will aggravate him further, so the shipping price is no object in this case.

Then there’s the question of what to do with the incorrect product. That may involve return shipping fees or writing-off materials. Then sometimes there’s a price adjustment on the invoice, either for the correct goods or sometimes out of goodwill to earn a second chance.

Then it’s time to return to processing the bottleneck of orders piling up while you were chasing shadows and digging yourself out of this mess.

In other words, inaccurate data entry penalty costs add up fast.

Touchless Automation Improves Data Accuracy

The exact opposite is true with touchless, automated data entry and order processing that is 100% accurate.

Without data inaccuracies, there are no spiraling extra costs. And, since he received his order on time and in full, with the excellent customer experience you’re able to deliver, Bill is kept perfectly happy.

But more than that, you actively unlock savings. When you modernize the process of transforming incoming electronic documents into 100% accurate and machine-consumable transactions, you capitalize on a massive amount of untapped business value.

Outcomes of Data Entry Improvements

Over the years, Conexiom has integrated with many businesses to streamline their order processing and provide touchless sales data solutions via automated order management solutions. The following are just a selection from our partners in automation, along with some of the operational and efficiency-boosting gains we’ve been able to effect.

Rexel Canada

The team at Rexel Canada faced a workforce alignment issue. Manually retyping orders, a low-value and laborious component of their order processing system, was the single most labor-intensive part of their operation. By implementing Conexiom, Rexel could automate the sales orders of 600+ customers, eliminating errors and giving back thousands of work hours to the sales team – hours they can use more effectively in delivering optimal customer experiences.

Our case study provides a more detailed insight into how Conexiom made touchless sales order processing a reality for Rexel Canada.


With Diversey, Conexiom Platform has eliminated the manual entry of 87% of order lines (1.9-million in total). Previously, 57 FTEs had been required to enter orders manually. Now, 50 of that 57 can focus instead on activities that increase the level of customer service and boost market share. Meanwhile, the data entry and order processing is happening faster than before, with fewer errors.


At Grainger, the Conexiom Platform has brought the time between order emailed, and shipment dispatched down to 15 minutes. 95% of orders are processed in under two minutes, with no errors—83% of the orders required zero intervention from human staff.

Our case study goes into more detail on how Conexiom worked for Grainger.

Conexiom: Eliminating Data Entry Errors

When it comes to data entry and order processing, error resolutions are expensive. They dissolve any hope of profit on a transaction and cost you money in picking up the shortfalls left by incomplete or unsatisfactory orders.

Worse still, you could lose a customer. New customer acquisition costs are far higher than retaining existing customers, so it’s a losing proposition. And this is precisely why choosing a solution with anything less than 100% accuracy is unacceptable for the modern business targeting efficiency and an effective digital transformation.

Get in touch today to try 100% accurate data entry and order processing.

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