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A recent eMarketer report forecasts global retail eCommerce sales to reach $4 trillion by 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending that year. The average U.S. household spent $5,200 online last year, up nearly 50 percent from five years earlier.
You, like so many others, are aggressively growing your e-Commerce sales. As you grow and scale it becomes harder to manage the volume. As a growing brand your e-Commerce system needs other 3rd party systems to manage all of the different parts but how you get these systems to talk to each other is a different story.
Think of all the different systems your growth strategy depends on. If they’re not currently integrated you should consider how this could be affecting your business model and check out why your business might be ready for integration and how to do it.
What is e-Commerce Integration?
e-Commerce integration is a data transfer between your e-Commerce platform and the five critical components of accounting, inventory, sales, CRM, and marketing. e-Commerce integration allows you to save a bunch of time and simply put - you only need to enter your data once for it to get transferred throughout and stored in a manner that allows everyone to access it for each individual customer account.
It allows your brand to keep up the pace with lots of customers converting on multiple channels at once and your ability to keep track of the path of your product transfer no matter which channels were used to complete a transaction. It is all part of an overall e-Commerce strategy.
A brands e-Commerce operation can fail when it cannot manage all the orders it has coming in from different channels at the same time and their shipment orders system, and display of available product didn’t correctly indicate the real state of things. This can lead to the system's failure to execute orders leaving customers with a bad experience. Bad experiences equal lost customers today.
What are the Benefits of e-Commerce Integrations?
When integrating your website to your other online sales channels and back-end systems, you gain these benefits:
- Eliminate manual and duplicate entry
- Improve speed of data exchange between multiple systems
- Improve data accuracy
- Sync inventory across all the sales channels
- Easily add more sales channels
- Readily handle increased sales
- Automate customer notifications throughout the customer's buying journey
- Quickly make updates more efficiently without lag time between systems
- Streamline business processes and eliminate redundant steps
- Liberate valuable resources
What are the Key Items to Identifying a Potential Integration Project for Your e-Commerce Brand?
- Start with manual processes. Consider how an integration can remove unnecessary, slow, or tedious steps and give time back to the user to focus on important initiatives
- Ways to reduce friction. Reduce the number of systems or steps to keep processes seamless and less fragmented.
- Closed-loop attribution! Determine what key data points are missing to tie attribution back to marketing & sales efforts. Consider ways an integration can improve data accuracy and availability to key stakeholders.
- Improve insights into consumer behavior to create new opportunities for improving customer experience, cross-sells and up-sells.
After one or more of the above items have been identified, it's time to reach out to a resource that can partner with your team to create the integrations you need to succeed.
There are key considerations you should review internally before pursuing an integration. Those might include figuring out the type of integration you will need; native, use of an iPaas tool, or custom development. Find a specialist that will work closely with you to identify the right technology, build out the system requirements, and roll out an implementation & training plan.
Some of the e-Commerce integrations you may need are:
- CRM/ERP integration – Informing master customer database of each transaction
- Entitlement allocation – Customer buys your product and needs entitlement granted
- Seamless user experience – Web page branding, custom domains, customer specific data passed to pre-filled carts
- Entitlement validation – Qualify customer to buy specific product
- Single sign-on – Customer logged in to each system simultaneously, your site should be the master and your e-commerce provider the slave
- Hosting of data files – Whose Content Delivery Network (CDN) to use, impact on tax nexus
While integration improves your operational efficiencies, it’s not just your team that gains more. Your customers will also gain a better experience. Automating your business processes through integration allows you to improve these areas of your customer experience:
- Providing customers with complete, accurate, consistent, and insightful product information across all your channels
- Providing accurate inventory information
- Instilling confidence in customers that you can deliver the products they want when they want it
- Providing timely and beneficial customer service
- Facilitating returns
- Creating a pleasurable and repeatable shopping experience
The benefits of eCommerce integration speak for themselves. But, implementing an eCommerce integration solution takes time and resources. We can help.
Emily Cray, Integration Specialist with Revenue River contributed to this article.