A recent report from eMarketer tells us that Worldwide Retail eCommerce Sales Will Reach $1.915 Trillion this year.
This may come as good news if you’re an eCommerce retailer. But growing numbers of sales can also mean an increase in workload and data management and if your systems aren’t ready for the future of eCommerce, you could find that your business is at a serious disadvantage. In this blog, we’re going to look into the importance of data integration in the eCommerce landscape and how best to achieve this.
What is eCommerce Integration?
ECommerce integration is when a company that sells in the online space decides to connect all its important data together in one place. This means that their eCommerce site, sales channels and ERP back-office systems are all synced and accessible from one platform.
When a company integrates their data like this, it eliminates the need to manually re-key data from one system to another – all updates are done automatically. If you sell something online for example, you don’t then have to go into your ERP back-office system and account for the sale in your inventory – this will happen automatically.
The benefits of Integration
Now we’ve defined what eCommerce integration is, let’s look at the benefits of this kind of system.
1. Enhanced customer service
A business will live or die depending on how well it serves its customers. Arguably, the most important benefit of integration is the enhanced customer service you will be able to provide.
You’ll be able to automatically notify customers when orders have been shipped and give them the ability to track their orders. If your company exists in the sometimes challenging B2B world, then your customers’ demands will be even more urgent and complex. Integration will allow your customers to access their essential information like past invoices, information about products and account histories. Customers will also be able to access more accurate product and inventory information.
2. Ready your business for growth
It’s one thing aiming for business growth but it’s another being ready for it when it comes. Integration allows you to easily scale up by adding new trading partners, customers and sales channels. When you’ve integrated your eCommerce platform with your back-office, new business won’t mean an unmanageable increase in workload.
3. Improve accuracy and reduce errors
For your customers to have confidence in you, you need to have confidence in the data you’re showing them. Integration means that all your systems will be updated in real-time. Product details, pricing information and order information will be kept up-to-date and accurate. Added to that, your inventory levels will sync up across all your sales channels.
As well as benefiting from the real-time syncing of systems, normal human errors will be almost completely eliminated, as there will be no need for human intervention.
Do I need Integration?
There are clearly many benefits to integration but how do you know when you need it? Let’s look at a few issues that may arise within an organisation if you’re not integrating when you should be.
1. Can you keep up with sales?
If you find yourself racing to manually key in sales information, this is a sure sign that your business – and your stress levels – would benefit from integration.
2. What do your staff spend their time on?
Looking in detail at what your staff do is a very useful exercise in general for any business owner. Ideally, you’d want to see that your staff are able to use their time and talents to maximise profits and secure your place in whatever industry you’re part of. If you find that many staff members, or even whole teams, are spending the majority of their time re-keying information from one to place to another, this is a sign that you might need a machine to take over this labour-intensive task.
Integrating your systems will allow your employees to spend more time on tasks that drive your business forward and will certainly reduce errors in your system as well.
3. How often do errors occur?
Another question you need to ask yourself is whether data errors occur at an acceptable rate within your organisation and how well you’re able to deal with them when they do occur.
If you’ve seen any kind of increase in the number of errors in your system and the time it takes to rectify these errors, then you might need integration.
Choosing the right integration method
There are different ways of integrating your systems so it’s important to investigate your options and choose the best one for your business needs. In some cases, you may need to change the systems you’re currently using as some systems are better suited to integration than others.
Bigger enterprises with their own IT department may choose to create their own bespoke integration between their eCommerce platform and their back-office systems. This way forward is normally very time-consuming for the company in question but can work in some cases, when the company wants complete control of the integration.
The other option is to enlist the services of a company that specialises in integration. They can provide pre-built connectors – or create connectors based on your needs – so that your eCommerce site and all your sales channels can be synced according to your needs.
What we do
At NetEDI, we’re on a mission to make the business lives of our customers as stress-free as possible. We’re experts at seamlessly integrating eCommerce platforms with our customers’ existing back-office systems. We can provide you with one platform where you can manage your EDI, accounting and sales channels data.
As well as that, we provide a fully managed service with integration experts on hand to answer any questions and solve any issues that you may have. We can tell you if you need integration, and what the best way forward is for your company. If you want to learn more about what we do at NetEDI, just get in touch with one of our friendly advisors using the options at the top of the page.