Consumers are continuing to shop online more often, for a variety of different products, through multiple touchpoints. eCommerce retail sales are forecast to reach $4 Trillion globally in 2020, and in the U.S. alone online sales will make up 17% of overall retail by 2022.
As your business grows, so does the task of properly managing this growth while improving processes to allow further room for growth.This is where Integrated eCommerce Systems come into play.
Aside from your Core Platform (Magento, Workarea, Shopify Plus, Big Commerce, etc.) the biggest component of any retail business is a Backend Integrated System. The most well known being an ERP Integration (i.e. Netsuite), but popular Integrations also include: CRM Integrations (Customer Relationship Management, ie. Microsoft Dynamics), Product Information Management (i.e. Akeneo), Inventory Management Systems/Order Management Systems, Point of Sale Systems, etc.
Integrations for merchants, retailers, and brands selling online are critical for accelerating growth, through improved operational efficiencies and an optimized customer experience over multiple touchpoints.
Here’s what retailers need to know about the benefits of integrated eCommerce systems:
2 Key Benefits of Integrated eCommerce Systems
1. Improved Internal Operational Efficiency
At the most basic level Integrating with your Core eCommerce Platform will be able to help you tighten your operations in a variety of important areas like: supply chain, warehousing, inventory and order management, customer analytics, shipping/fulfillment, and more.
Cost and disruption often makes Integrations an overlooked solution, but the potential return on investment from improvements on the operations end alone make any Integration (ERP, CRM, Marketing, Accounting) a worthwhile investment.
Backend System Integrations automate manual processes, reducing workload and human error, allowing customers to self-service and shop seamlessly.
For example: Having the right Inventory Management System (IMS, or commonly also referred to as Order Management System/OMS) in place can help retailers mitigate fairly common challenges faced by all in the industry. High-growth merchants should not be managing inventory and orders manually through spreadsheets, apps, and frankenstein workarounds. An Inventory Management System is an Integrated Software that helps retailers track inventory, orders, products and fulfillment and is synced with your core platform to optimize the order fulfillment process on both the backend and frontend of your business
An Integration is an investment in automation, efficiency and future growth. Technology is there to support business goals, and ensure your operations are run smoothly.
2. Optimized Omnichannel Customer Journey and Experience
Not only will your internal organization benefit from an Integrated eCommerce System, your customers will too.
The entire shopping experience has evolved as the retail industry shifted from physical only, to offline and online, now to omnichannel. A true omnichannel experience is one that is fully-integrated, providing shoppers a seamless experience, whether they are online or offline.
A study of 46,000 shoppers by Harvard Business Review shows that 73% of shoppers used multiple channels to make a purchase.
This same study also showed that omnichannel shopper are more valuable to retailers than single-channel customers. Your company’s aim should be to bring together all your backend systems to provide a seamless experience across channels for today’s customers.
This omnichannel focus in retail is crucial to your business’s success as a customer’s experience of your brand has the potential to be deeply impacted at multiple touchpoints.
It becomes much more easy to provide an exceptional and truly omnichannel experience with the proper Integrations in place.
Providing a seamless journey through eCommerce Integrations could mean:
- Customers can check inventory at store locations while browsing on their mobile devices.
- Customers can pick-up items they’ve bought online, in-store.
- A gift card used in store will update a rewards balance online.
- Customer service conversations through email, social media, or chatbots are stored in a singular place for easy access and reference.
More importantly, your business will have access to a 360° – or a “Holistic” – view of the customer. eCommerce Integration Systems will connect with your Core eCommerce Platform, and ease common retailer struggles, like: identifying shoppers across channels, siloed departments, syncing data, store and customer analytics, and improve internal organizational challenges.
Having the right Integrations in place will allow you to operate in a truly omnichannel way, with a holistic view of your customers, guaranteeing accelerated and sustainable growth.
Improve Your Operations and Empower Your Customers
Profitable sustainable growth can be achieved with the right backend systems in place. It’s easy to see how you can improve your business operations while empowering your customers, whether it be ERP, CRM, Marketing, Order Management, etc.
There are technical barriers that retailers need to be aware of when considering implementing any integration. It’s imperative that your team works closely with both the software providers and your Systems Integrator or eCommerce Agency to choose the best technology mix for your current systems, business needs, and future goals.
Next, look forward to my post on how to prepare for the challenges of Integrating with your Core Platform.
Questions about integrating with your eCommerce platform? Contact us by clicking here.