Today's post is written by Jillian Hufford of Zoey partner nChannel.
Keeping up with a growing online business is tough. While you’re struggling to keep up with operations, you can make a lot of mistakes along the way like shipping the wrong item or overselling. To deal with these issues, sellers are usually on the lookout for technology that helps scale operations and improve their customer experience.
One of those technologies all growing merchants should consider is eCommerce integration software. If you run multiple business systems for your online store, then you know the pains of dealing with disconnected systems. Relying on manual data entry between your systems is prone to problems like inaccurate or untimely data, which can then lead to bad decisions or mistakes that your customers aren’t always very forgiving about.
The challenge is knowing when your growing business is ready to invest in integration software to connect your eCommerce platform to other critical systems like an ERP, POS, marketplaces, CRM, or 3PL providers. So, we’ve put together the top signs that let you know when you can’t afford to operate with disconnected systems any longer.
Top Signs You Need eCommerce Integration Software
Are you experiencing any of these issues? If you are, it’s probably time for you to evaluate how to connect your eCommerce software. Integration software connects your online store to your backend systems so you can automate critical processes like order fulfillment, inventory synchronization, product listing updates, and more.
Delayed Order Shipments
Your website says that you guarantee shipping dates, but how often do you miss those dates? It’s a pretty frustrating experience for a customer when their package doesn’t show up on their doorstep. In fact, a bad shipping experience is a top reason why a customer might not shop with you again!
For growing retailers, delayed shipments often happen because order processing takes too long and you can’t keep up with demand. If your processes aren’t efficient enough, you can’t get the package to your shipping provider quick enough to meet your promised deadlines.
Another common mistake by retailers is sending the wrong item or delivering to the wrong address. It’s great if you get a package there on time, but it’s even better to have the items the customer was expecting in them. When you frequently deliver the wrong item or never at all, it creates unhappy customers and hurts your bottom line. You’ll have to deal with returns or exchanges, or potentially refunds to right the situation.
Wrong shipments often are a result of inaccurate data between passed between systems. A SKU number or addressed is entered wrong causing the wrong item to be shipped or delivered. Big mistakes like these are easy to commit, but hard to catch when you’re manually entering data between your eCommerce platform and order fulfillment systems like an ERP.
Mismanaged inventory often leads to you making that dreaded call to a customer letting them know that their item is on backorder or you can’t ship it at all! Keeping track of accurate inventory levels is even harder during high sales volume times like holidays or running flash sales.
For most merchants, you need to be syncing your inventory quantities in real-time, as soon as an order is placed, to give you peace of mind that you won’t oversell online.
Inconsistent Product Information
Most online sellers recognize the importance of high-quality product information online. Online shoppers want rich and detailed product information to help them find and buy the item they want. Without the luxury of touching and feeling online products, shoppers rely on what you tell them through your product listings to build confidence that they’re making the right purchase.
For online sellers though, your product data can be the hardest to manage, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of products. Your data needs to be uniform, consistent, descriptive and up to date.
If you don’t have the right processes in place to do this, you’ll often end up with messy and inconsistent product listings online. It can take hours to manage, update, list and fix your listings, which can cause merchants to settle for less than stellar listings. This could be causing you to lose sales because customers don’t have the confidence to purchase from you!
Increase in Service Tickets
Many sellers with inefficient processes start to see their customer service tickets increase. Their reps are often trying to fix their company’s own preventable mistakes.
Take a look at your support tickets. Do you see any trends? Are customers often complaining about issues you can fix like shipping the wrong item or a package that never arrived?
Employees Dedicated to Manual Data Entry
Without integration between your systems, online sellers must rely on manual data entry between systems to physically move data between them. We’ve seen sellers who have an entire employee’s day dedicated to manual data entry. This is problematic. Not only are your current processes prone to mistakes, but wouldn’t you rather your employee be working on more valuable projects?
Overall, Your Customer Experience is Suffering
In short, all these tell-tale signs lead to one wholistic problem – your customer experience is suffering. Online shoppers must do a lot to attract a customer. You don’t want to a preventable mistake like one of these above to cause you to lose a sale or a customer for life. Unfortunately, today’s shoppers aren’t very forgiving either. They’re looking for more than just the lowest price. They’ll spend their dollars with sellers that provide the best experience or is the most convenient for them.
How to Choose an eCommerce Integration Solution
The first step is realizing that you’re at the tipping point of growth and need to consider integration. The second step then is evaluating eCommerce integration solutions. Today, sellers have all sorts of options when it comes to automating processes between their eCommerce platform and other systems like an ERP or 3PL provider.
While choices are always great, that means you’ll have to put some work into choosing a solution that’s the best fit for your business. After all, every seller’s environment is a little bit different.
When comparing eCommerce integration software, you’ll want to consider:
Systems – Does the solution support the systems you need to connect?
Functionality – Does the solution support the workflows you want to automate?
Time – How long will the project take? Is it about to be your big selling season?
Price – What can you afford relative to the functionality you need?
Support – Who can you call when something goes wrong?
At the end of day, picking an integration software comes down to what’s best for you and your customers. To understand different integration approaches such as custom vs pre-built, check out this in-depth comparison.
nChannel empowers retailers, wholesalers and technologists with integration tools to sync data and automate processes between their eCommerce, ERP, POS and 3PL systems from inventory synchronization and order fulfillment to supply chain management. Check out our list of pre-built connectors for popular eCommerce systems like Zoey.
About the Author:
Jillian Hufford joined nChannel as their Marketing Strategist and Partner Manager. Using both her writing and analytic skills, she assists the Marketing and Sales teams. Jillian performs competitor market research, provides analysis of key sales metrics, and writes informative posts on multichannel commerce trends.
Zoey is a powerful eCommerce solution for B2B and wholesale businesses. It also leverages B2C-type capabilities to empower merchants to let their customers self-serve common needs like reordering, order status and account maintenance. Zoey has many enterprise-grade B2B and wholesale capabilities built into its platform for easy establishment and growth of a B2B business.