The process of buying and selling online has grown substantially in the past several years. eCommerce is now — or should be — top of mind for merchants, entrepreneurs, and retailers everywhere. But with selling online comes the tedious task of maintaining records and data such as orders, invoices, inventory, shipping updates, customer information, and so on, within a back-end accounting system.
In addition, many retailers do more than just sell online. Most also sell their products in brick-and-mortar stores where one order can mean a large quantity of product on the shelf, and they maintain records of their customers, leads, prospects, and partners in third-party applications known as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
eCommerce integration is a solution designed to address the challenges presented by attempting to maintain accurate records across numerous business systems. These integration solutions have become one of the key building blocks for retailers looking to grow and expand their businesses.
Examining Why You Need Integration
Your business is unique. More than likely, there’s a never-ending list of reasons why you may need to automate order data flow. Here are some of the most common reasons you may decide to use integration:
» You get a lot of orders (200+ orders a month on average). Manual order and data entry were easy-peasy back when you were receiving a small handful of orders each month. But now, your business has taken off and the orders are coming in faster than your fingers can keep up.
» You’re finding it impossible to scale your eCommerce business with people keying in data by hand. An automated solution allows resources to be focused on higher priority tasks.
» Your overall customer experience is below par. You’re looking for a better system with no back-order issues — one where inventory is always correct, tracking numbers are received immediately after the product is shipped, and order history always appears in your business systems.
» You have a backlog of orders waiting to be processed. You’ve gotten so far behind in data entry that your orders are piling up and customers are often waiting around for their purchases to be shipped.
» You don’t want to hire a data entry person. Hiring someone to do data entry all day long between business systems is going to cost you a lot of money, not to mention, doing so doesn’t sound like fun.
» Your inventory level records aren’t an accurate reflection of the stock you have available. Without a process in place whereby inventory levels will be updated in real time as purchases are being made, you run the risk of selling more of an item than you actually have available in stock. Plus, when you process a return, you’ll need to readjust inventory levels to reflect the change.
» You’re receiving penalties from Amazon, eBay, and other marketplaces because you’re not processing orders fast enough. Amazon and other marketplaces impose penalties on merchants that take too long to process their orders. These websites take pride in offering their customers speedy service, and if you’re unable to comply with their fast-paced requirements, you’ll be left paying for it.
» You’re getting negative reviews from your customers because of slow service or inaccurate order processing. Most likely your customers shop online for the convenience of it, and nothing is less convenient than a purchase that takes weeks and weeks to arrive, or one that arrives and is incorrect. When customers are unhappy with the service they receive, they’ll often write a negative online review of your business, which can be damaging to your reputation.
Read the rest of the eCommerce Integration For Dummies eBook and learn about everything from automating order data to making happier customers, learn how integration can help you drive results, as well as how to:
- Understand what eCommerce integration is
- Grasp why integration is essential
- Eliminate manual data entry
- Have fun