*Get Started in the Summer – Studies show that summer tends to have slow sales months, particularly for B2B. If you’re looking to use this time to add an additional sales channel online or simply research the possibility, then these are the blogs for you! In this blog series, we explain the ins-and-outs of getting started with e-commerce, from the jargon used to implementation.
For companies who haven’t yet dipped their toes into the online space, e-commerce represents an entirely new pool of customers. A new market is a great opportunity, but the fear of “diving in” is often paralyzing. So put on your floaties, and let’s see how integration makes it easier to use the systems you already have in place.
Putting your business online may seem complicated if you use a number of different sales channels (such as a brick-and-mortar store, call center, and online store) to reach your customers. The same is true if you use a lot of different suppliers. How do you make sure that uniform practices and prices exist throughout your enterprise? How do you ensure that your data is consistent?
First, you want an easy way to track data across all channels and suppliers. To make your enterprise e-commerce efficient, integrating your ERP (or Enterprise Resource Planning solution) with your webstore is the perfect place to start.
Integration – What It Is and Why It’s Helpful
Let’s say you create an e-commerce shop and set that store’s inventory to eight items. What happens when the store runs out of stock? Who is there to check the inventory for your customers? You wouldn’t want to send a potential customer away with no information, but you also wouldn’t want to sell an item for which you have no remaining stock.
Using modules and applications to track the data in your e-commerce solution, all your information is shared between your ERP and your webstore. This includes the inventory data that your customer needs to make a purchase. It’s best not to have your e-commerce solution alone on an island. It is not Gilligan or that guy from Castaway. You want to share data between systems.
If your e-commerce store is integrated with your ERP, you open up your options for dealing with a potential customer online. Your customer gains access to your current stock, delivery times for shipping, and other product data. This increases their self-service and eliminates the need for duplicate inventories. And best of all, it’s automated.
Benefits of Automation
Your company saves time and money when your systems are automated and integrated. Your employees have better tasks to do than manually transferring orders from your webstore to a separate accounting system. Instead, when your customer makes a purchase on your webshop, it’s simply more efficient to have that information automatically reflected in your ERP system.
In addition to manual entry being a waste of time, it increases the opportunity for human error. There’s no reason to juggle a traditional sales channel completely removed from your online store. A single automated and integrated inventory works for multiple sales channels.
Benefits for the Customer
E-commerce is all about the consumer, and ERP integration makes for a more pleasant shopping experience for your potential customer. With self-service options, shipping updates, order tracking, order history, and even specifically-tailored discounts to select customers, integration combines the power of your ERP with the online selling of your e-commerce solution.
ERP integration also empower your customers with product data by allowing them to filter their online searches as they look through your products. When a customer filters their online search by two traits (say, “size” and “color”), you reduce their frustration by ensuring your site returns an accurate stock supply.
These perks are no longer nice, little bonuses. Web customers are savvy, informed, impatient, and demanding. They expect these features, and if your webstore doesn’t offer them, it’s not difficult for your prospects to find another one that does, almost immediately.