Why am I required to do EDI with my trading partners?

April 23rd, 2015

Most trading partners will require you to implement a solid EDI solution before they begin conducting business with you. This could be for a number of known reasons, but doing this will benefit your company as well.

Along with some operational improvements, you can expect to see some strategic improvements as well. Below are just a few you can expect to see:



Strategic:

  • Decreased operating costs
  • Improved cash and inventory cycles
  • Rapid integration of trading partners into business processes

Operational:

  • Invoices are sent out and in your partners in minutes
  • Increased security during message and transaction processing
  • Reduced data duplication, elimination of data errors
  • Reduced inventory levels
  • Reduced paper, postage and sorting activities

These reasons contribute directly to why a lot of major trading partners require customers and suppliers to conduct business via EDI. In a lot of situations, some companies won’t even enter business agreements without an agreement on an EDI solution.

At eBridge Connections we provide companies with end-to-end integrated solutions. Our platform powers EDI integration with any of 20+ supported accounting and ERP systems to achieve trading compliance while maintaining cost efficiency and effectiveness. To read more about how your company can take advantage of EDI Integration and visit our EDI Benefits overview.

kelly EDI Integration, EDI Tips and Tricks, General EDI , ,

How to Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

April 20th, 2015

Did you know that nearly 68% of shoppers abandon shopping carts on average? Or perhaps those retailers lose $18 billion annually due to shopping cart abandonment?

For the average online retailer, these numbers are scary and quite shocking. Shopping cart abandonment is a real problem for these business owners. This issue should not be taken lightly, and should be addressed as soon as possible. There are some key reasons for these situations, and identifying them is the first step to correcting them!

Additional prices found at check out
It can be frustrating to go the majority of the shopping experience thinking that you’re going to be paying one price, and be expected to pay another (much higher) one at checkout. The additional fees associated with shipping and delivery at checkout should not be a surprise to your customers. In fact, they should be posted and visible at all times. A good way of maintaining this is to include a note in the product description so they are able to see it.

Security doubts
Although eCommerce has become a trusted shopping method in North America, this is still a common fear for consumers. If a customer senses even the slightest lack of legitimacy, they will leave. They won’t be sticking around and completing their purchase if they don’t think their information is secure. Make sure you’ve purchased and enabled a SSL certificate for your transaction pages and are displaying relevant security badges in order to increase overall buyer confidence.

Limited payment/shipping options (regional limitations)
One of the benefits of shopping online is that you can do it anywhere at any time. Having said that, shoppers really do expect to be able to make their purchases easily and hassle free. This means, that you need to have various payment options and little to no geographical limitations. Don’t give them a reason to abandon their purchase.

Lack of customer support

This is an issue that can come in a number of forms. These include:

  1. Non-existent or unclear return policy: We’ve mentioned before that customers appreciate a “back button” when shopping. They need to know that there is a way out if they come down with a case of buyer remorse. Have your return policy stated as clearly as possible or at least give them an opportunity to click to it at checkout.
  2. Lack of customer service: Shoppers want answers to their questions when they have them, and they generally do at the checkout. A live chat feature is a great way to overcome this reason for abandonment. They get the answers at their most vulnerable moment which encourages them to finalize their purchase.

Store is not mobile responsive
This goes back to our point about having options. As we mentioned above, customers like to shop anywhere at any time; this means that mobile responsiveness is crucial on your eCommerce site! In fact, over 50% of eCommerce traffic is from mobile (Shopify). Having said that, customers may not even make it to the check out if they can’t shop comfortably on their device of choice.

How do online retailers fight back?
The first step in your line of defense is to identify when there is a problem. You can use your website or store analytics to see if shopping cart abandonment is an issue for you. Next, be aware of the issues that cause shopping cart abandonment. And finally, do something about it!
Fixing some of these issues may be a costly endeavor and may be a time consuming process, but the investment is worth it to bring down your abandonment rate.
Remember that customer and user experience is everything when running an eCommerce store!

kelly eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , ,

4 Signs that it may be Time to Integrate your ERP and Online Store

April 16th, 2015

Visitors to your site are rolling, sales are up, and your staff is busy. These are all great signs for an online retailer and business has probably never been better for you!

However, if you’re not integrating your eCommerce store with your accounting or ERP system, you may be surprised by the other operational costs associated with this new found success.

Integration can be a scary word for a beginner, and can look like quite a costly endeavor, but have you considered the cost of not integrating?

Here are some signs it may be time to reach out to an integration solution provider like eBridge Connections!

You’re swamped with errors

If your business is pulling in orders by the hundreds or thousands, the thought re-keying all the orders and information into your ERP by hand can be overwhelming. Transposing numbers and missing entries can and will happen. Everyone makes mistakes, but how much time and money are these mistakes costing your business?

Your labour costs are weighing you down

Consider weighing the cost of integration against a data entry salary. No one likes to consider this, or even fathom having to let valuable employees go, but these labour costs may be standing in the way of valuable profits!

You just can’t seem to keep up with it all!

It is an extremely time consuming process to pull all your online order information and re-enter it into your ERP. This can be even more overwhelming if your store is doing well. This is time you could be using for more important things like customer service, marketing, or product development.

Your customer service is lacking

Customer service and user experience go hand in hand. Customers want a smooth, seamless process when making a purchase online. They expect that that their order will be updated shortly after (usually 24 hours) with all the shipment tracking information. If you’re store is not integrated with your ERP, this may take longer, or worse, not even happen. This proves to be a poor customer experience and could cost your business.

Are you seeing the signs?

A growing business is a wonderful thing, and what most online retailers strive for. Having said this, we need to remember the growing pains that may accompany this success. If you’re seeing the signs, it may be time to give us a call at eBridge Connections. Our integration solutions can help soothe those growing pains so you can actually enjoy your success!

kelly eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , ,

Yes, we do Bi-Directional Integration with Amazon and eBay

April 10th, 2015

It’s no secret that we offer a number of powerful connectors that can improve business efficiency and decrease operating expenses for eCommerce merchants. Among these are integration solutions for Amazon and eBay.

What might not be known is that we can deliver bi-directional integrations with these marketplace giants! “I know that you can move Amazon and eBay orders into our ERP but I was informed that your solution wasn’t bi-directional,” mentioned an interested caller recently.

This means that a number of different types of data can be exchanged out of and into Amazon and eBay through our integration platform. These include:

  • Orders
  • Shipment updates (tracking numbers)
  • Inventory
  • Product Data

What does this mean for you as a seller?

Not only do you benefit from expedited order processing but you can also keep your eCommerce marketplaces up to date. You’ll be able to boost your Amazon and eBay seller ratings by updating orders with shipment tracking numbers, and help you avoid orders being placed for out of stock or mispriced items!

A bi-directional integration can drastically reduce the amount of manual data entry by eliminating the need to re-key data into your ERP or marketplaces. This leads to more efficient business processes and a reduction in data entry mistakes that can be very costly.

What does this mean for your customers?

In addition to speeding up the overall process, you can expect to see an increase in customer satisfaction. By automating the exchange of shipment tracking numbers from your ERP to your Amazon/eBay store, you’ll be able to keep your customers up-to-date on the status of their orders and minimize phone calls and emails to your support team.

Read about the integration in action!

We’ve delivered a number of successful bi-directional integrations over the last few years, but there are a couple of customer examples that really stand out!

  • GSS Gear – “The integration with Amazon has saved us so much time and effort. It’s incredible. We would not be able to keep up with order processing if it were to be done manually. We can also reflect what we actually have in inventory on Amazon. There is no way we could know what our inventory count is for a specific SKU at any given time if it weren’t for the integration.” Read more here
  • Century Shower Door – “We’ve been with eBridge for over a year now and I can’t express how thrilled we are with our integration project. Not having to input all of our Amazon FBA & Non-FBA orders into our accounting package has saved us so much time and alleviated all data transfer errors.”

Still have questions?

Give our Blueprint Builder a shot to see if our integration solution is right for your business. It’s an easy way to see how our connections can work for you.

Alternatively, you can always contact us by sending us a note or by calling us at 1-800-755-6921.

kelly Integration, eCommerce Integration , , , ,

4 Ways to Leverage Social Media in your eCommerce Strategy

April 7th, 2015

More and more eCommerce businesses are beginning to adopt an inbound marketing strategy. They’re engaging on social media, providing useful and engaging content and really getting to know their customers on another level. If you’re a merchant that hasn’t adopted inbound marketing as part of your business strategy then you’re already behind. Customers crave a personal touch and expect instant access to information.

For eCommerce merchants, these principles are paramount. The success of their business depends on it. This is why social media is no longer an option, it’s a necessity!

Below are areas in which your social presence plays a key role in success of your eCommerce store.

SEO

SEO used to be very simple. All business’ needed to do was ensure that they were using the right keywords with a decent sitemap and people would be able to find you. With big players like Google taking over that space now, search engines have become much more sophisticated and it can be more difficult for business’s to compete. Having said this, social media can help increase your chances of being found. Search engines value relationships and link building.

There are a couple of ways your social presence can affect your SEO rankings:

  1. Your number of followers and fans: A retailer with 200 followers on Twitter doesn’t come close to an online retailer with 2,000 followers. Google will pick up on the number of followers of fans you have. They look at this as credible. Having said that, it is extremely important that you keep in mind the quality of your followers play a role. If you are paying for likes and followers, this won’t get you anywhere.
  2. Link building: For some, it is common knowledge that putting more of your links out there will help your rankings. By sharing your content on social media, you increase the number of inbound paths to your content, products and site. This helps to increase your search rankings.

Customer Service

With todays need for instant everything, it’s no shock to hear that the average online customer needs instant access to help when they ask for it. Social media (Twitter and Facebook especially) is a great, inexpensive, and efficient way to address this need.

If a potential customer is aware that you have a social presence, that you’re active, and quick to respond to questions and concerns in a positive way, what do you think they’re going to tell their friends and family? Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and it’s free!

Brand Awareness

Social media creates visibility for brands. Since it’s viral by nature, this can work to a retailer’s advantage if used correctly. By posting useful and engaging content regularly for your customers, you begin to build relationships and work towards stronger brand awareness.

Creating and providing valuable content for your customers will slowly begin to establish credibility in your industry. Customers like to go to an expert; they like to know they’re in good hands. Create that visibility, establish yourself as an expert, and your brand could take off!

Great Insights

The major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter all provide great analytics. These offer some good insight into what’s working, what’s not, what’s popular and what’s flopping.

Your social insights are a great place to see what content is popular, which could translate into which products are popular (and vice versa). This information can be quite powerful to online retailers. It also helps you put together a solid marketing and business plan. Your customers are your number one tool when trying to understand what is working and what isn’t. All you have to do is listen to what the numbers are telling you.

In the end, social media isn’t a magic wand; it’s a tool that has to be used properly to drive results. It takes time and needs constant attention. It also plays an important role to any modern marketing strategy. In today’s instant world, online retailers need to recognize this and live by it.

kelly eBRIDGE Blog, eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , ,

Spring Cleaning for your eCommerce Store

April 1st, 2015

Does your eCommerce store need a little cleaning?

With the snow nearly gone, and the temperature beginning to warm up (finally!), I think it’s safe to say that spring is around the corner.

Many of us are breaking out the brooms, getting the dust pan ready, and starting our spring cleaning around the house. It’s a necessary step in understanding what we don’t need anymore, what we can purge, and what we need to replenish in our homes.

These same principles apply to eCommerce stores and business owners. It’s time to sweep out old products that aren’t selling and dust off some of your key pages that may need some TLC.

We’ve compiled a list of ways you can “spring clean” your eCommerce store. Some may seem obvious or somewhat tedious, but it may surprise you what kind of issues you may uncover along the way.

Run Tests

This is clearly something that you need to do regularly when running an eCommerce store, but are you running all the necessary tests?

  1. Browser tests: There are so many browsers being used all over the world, and they update on a regular basis. It is vital to ensure your store is compatible with each of them. It creates a poor user experience when features, tools, or products are not working or displaying properly. It can increase your bounce rate and bad word of mouth. It only takes a bit of time to run some browser tests to improve the user experience.
  2. Devices: iPads, iPhones, and Android, oh my! There are 100’s of mobile devices on the market these days. Is your eCommerce store viewable on all of them? It’s very important that your store is mobile responsive. Again, this can have a massive impact on your bounce rate and overall user experience.
  3. Search Results: Run a few keyword searches on all major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and note where your key products show up within the search. You may find that your results weren’t as good as you thought they were. It may be time to do an SEO audit of your store and look into what is bringing down your search rankings.

Be the Customer

It’s always a good idea to follow the customer path. From landing on your site, all the way through to check-out; make sure the path is seamless and easy to follow.

  1. In-Site Search Capabilities: Make sure your customers are able to find what they’re looking for with ease & very few road blocks. Ensure your keywords, product descriptions, and in-site search bar are working properly.
  2. Checkout: This process is crucial to the success to any eCommerce store. You want to ensure the process is clear, secure and user-friendly. There are many reasons for shopping cart abandonment and a lot of them happen right at check out. Look for these stoppers and fix them!
  3. Abandonment: You may do all you can in preventing this, but it’s still going to happen at some point. Become the customer again, and abandon your cart. Ensure that the message they receive (and the copy within it) still attempts to complete or extend the shopping experience. You want to bring them back, not push them further away.

Remove Dead Weight:

This is the step where merchants need to do a bit of purging! It’s time to take a look at your books and evaluate which products need to stay and which ones need to go. If there is a product or product line that isn’t doing well or hasn’t sold in a while, it may be time to purge. It’s just taking up space and could become an annoyance to your customers. In addition, depending on your eCommerce platform and the type of plan you have, you can give yourself more room for new and/or better selling products!

Rethink your Design

Redesigning your store isn’t necessary every year, but it is important to remember that your design has a huge impact on your customer’s experience. You should at least be making regular tweaks on your design.

Your analytics and overall purchase numbers are a good indicator of what needs to be updated with your store. Look at your abandonment rate, where users drop off, and what products are more popular than others. A/B testing is a great way to analyze for designs, if you have the means to do so.

We learn at a very early age that chores are never fun, but eventually come to appreciate their importance. The same goes for your eCommerce store. These tasks can be tedious, time-consuming and downright boring! However, the truth is that they’re extremely necessary and crucial to the success of your store.

A great way to assist in streamlining some of these processes is to integrate your eCommerce store with your accounting or ERP system. Not only can integration help in making your overall business process’s more efficient, but it can provide great analytics to make your eCommerce spring cleaning that much more effective!

kelly eCommerce, eCommerce Integration ,

How Online Retailers Can Tackle Common Customer Fears

March 23rd, 2015

It’s no secret that online shopping has become a preferred method for many consumers and businesses wishing to exercise their buying power.

Just to give you an idea of how big eCommerce has become, it’s expected to grow by 20% this year to $1.5 trillion globally (Selz Blog). In addition to this, 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores (Selz Blog). Overall, almost 80% of the online population has used the internet to purchase something (Selz Blog).

For online retailers, this is a massive opportunity!

However, here’s another crazy number for you…

Did you know that almost $4 trillion worth of online sales will be abandoned in their online carts this year? (Business Insider).

So the question remains: How do online retailers recover those [potentially] lost sales and help consumers overcome their purchasing fears?

We have provided a list of common consumer fears when using shopping online and how online retailers can overcome them.

Fear: ”Is my financial information secure?”

Solution: Although eCommerce has become a trusted shopping method in North America, this is still a common fear for consumers.  As a retailer it’s your job to ease these fears by portraying an image of security and legitimacy.

First, ensure you are using trusted and proven payment gateway such as PayPal, Stripe or Authorize.Net. Display trusted payment method logos so your customer can recognize them.

Second, have it stated that you have and utilize trusted security software. One little logo will go a long way to ease your customer’s fear of giving you their credit card information. McAfee is a common one that a lot of online retailers use.

Fear: “Will I even like this product?”

Solution: One of the challenges an eCommerce store, is that there is no physical product that the customer can see, touch, or test. The customer is taking your word on whether they will benefit from the product or not. Consumers need to know that they are going to benefit from the product they purchase; this is why reviews are crucial. A testimonial goes a long way. They’re an honest, inexpensive and effective method to encourage your customer to complete the transaction.

Another way to overcome this fear is to have a crystal clear return policy. Customer’s like to have a “back button” just in case they start to feel a bit of buyer’s remorse. Have it clearly stated at check out to ensure they see it when this fear might creep up on them.

Fear: “This checkout looks much different than the rest of the site, is it legitimate?”

Solution: Most eCommerce platforms will offer retailers the option to style their checkout so it is consistent with the rest of the site. This is crucial, because your customers don’t want to feel as if they are leaving the site when they go to finalize their purchase. Not only will this feel suspicious, but it looks like a scam.

Take the time, and make the investment to style your store and checkout similarly. This creates a seamless customer path with no red flags and enables consumers to feel comfortable throughout the shopping process.

Fear: “I have questions and need answers!”

Solution: As much as people love the instant nature of online shopping, they still appreciate a personal touch when they have questions. A great way to overcome this fear is to have a way for them get their answers.

One way of doing this is to create an FAQ or Knowledge base section for your customer. Over time, there may be customer questions you hear often. If this is the case, have them available to your customers in a common area on your site. This allows for them to find the answers on their own.

Another option, if you have the resources to sustain it, is an instant chat feature. This allows for a live response for your customers. We live in an instant world where people expect an instant response. Having chat integrated gives your customer peace of mind knowing that they can get their questions answered when they have them.

In the end, it’s all about facing these consumer fears and delivering a transparent and comfortable shopping environment. Customers need to know that you’re on their side and will be through each phase of the purchasing process. It may be a while before these customer fears disappear, thus it’s important that online retailers act now.

kelly eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , , ,

EDI Integration in Action!

March 20th, 2015

Recently, the eBridge team had an interesting encounter at our headquarters in Burlington, Ontario that we wanted to share with you. This just goes to show how small the world really is.

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we needed to re-carpet the stairs in our office. Having made the decision, we did what many would do in that situation; we called our local Home Depot to price out the work that needed to be done.

After making a purchase, Home Depot then assigned the work to their service partner National Installs who happens to be one of our valued customers!

Meet Mike – our friend over at National Installs who helped us out the other day with our stairs

From this transaction, we were able to see one of our own integrations in action! Using the order number from our Home Depot order we were able to view the first stage of the integration process via the eBridge Connections ePortal (shown below). In this image, you can see that our software has retrieved the specific purchase order document (EDI 850) that Home Depot issued to National Installs. This part of the integration process is fully automated and happens within minutes of the order being processed by Home Depot.

To finalize the process, data from the purchase order was then transformed into a readable format by eBridge Connections and  integrated into National Install’s QuickBooks accounting system. This is also fully automated, resulting in an efficient and accurate order process.

At eBridge Connections, we take pride in how effective and reliable our solutions are. It was a great opportunity for us to see it in action and we hope that this example provides a solid case for businesses evaluating an integration solution.

kelly EDI - Our Customers Trading Partner Series, EDI Integration , , , ,

Introducing our Turnkey EDI integration for Sage 300 ERP

March 18th, 2015

Sage 300 ERP (and ACCPAC) users rejoice – integrated EDI with the largest trading partner network is now possible! eBridge Connections is pleased to announce that we have partnered with SPS Commerce to develop and launch an integrated EDI solution for Sage 300.

The aforementioned solution is a cloud-based, turnkey integration product that enables Sage 300-powered businesses to access the over 60,000 EDI trading partners that make up the SPS Commerce Universal Network. Prior to launch, eBridge Connections was required to complete SPS Commerce’s rigorous development, testing and certification process to ensure that the end product is a reusable solution that customers can rely on.

The key benefit of this solution is that it eliminates the need for building individual point-to-point connections with each trading partner. With one connection, businesses running Sage 300 will be able to exchange EDI documents with an almost unlimited number of retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, 3PLs and more. As a result, organizations will save considerable time and financial resources, while achieving full EDI compliance – leading to greater opportunities for business growth.

Some additional benefits of the solution are:
- No complexity (when compared to traditional EDI)
- No EDI software (see bullet above)
- Quick deployment
- Fixed pricing
- Cloud-based – no on premise software required

To learn more about this exciting new product for Sage 300 ERP contact us here.

Matt Train EDI Integration , , , ,

Bringing Universal Accounting Integration to the Shopify Community

March 11th, 2015

Here at eBridge Connections, we aim to make business processes easier. We believe our new Shopify app does just that. The app will allow merchants to get a taste of what we can offer!

With this first generation app, users will get a sneak peak of our universal accounting integration platform for Shopify. It automates the retrieval of orders from any Shopify storefront and brings them into our ePortal data management tool.

Shopify storefront

Retrieve Shopify Orders in Minutes!

After installing the eBridge Connections app, merchants will be able to log into their ePortal account and within 15 minutes, they will be able to view all of their Shopify orders with a Last Updated Date of 5 days or less.


eBridge Shopify App User Interface

eBridge Shopify App User Interface

Connect Shopify to any Accounting or ERP Package

Following the installation of the eBridge Connections app, Shopify merchants choose to connect their storefront with their accounting or ERP package using our integration platform. eBridge Connections powers Shopify integration with the leading ERP and accounting packages such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV & SL, Sage 100, 300 & 500, NetSuite, SAP Business One, Epicor Enterprise and many others.

Streamline Item, Order and Customer Data Processing

With an end-to-end integration solution in place, merchants will be able to eliminate their labour-intensive data entry processes and reduce costly mistakes. The eBridge Connections integration platform facilitates automated, bi-directional data exchange between business platforms, over numerous touch points including:

  • Orders
  • Customer information
  • Inventory
  • Shipment tracking
  • Product information

For further information on the app, see our latest press release, or visit the Shopify app store.

kelly eCommerce Integration , , ,