Thursday, July 17, 2014Global Administrator To be competitive in today’s eCommerce market it is essential for businesses to be quick, responsive and accurate when a customer makes a transaction. This can be very difficult when your eCommerce store or marketplace is not integrated with your accounting system or ERP.

Think about the steps involved in processing an online order manually and add up the time that goes into each step. It’s likely a bit surprising. Then add up the labor costs to complete each step. Compare it to the time and money spent on handling an order in an integrated environment and you’ll quickly realize that integration is the logical option by a country mile.

Granted, integrations can be complex and time-consuming to have implemented, so hiring a data entry clerk might be an easier and more immediate solution. This approach, however, is usually heavily flawed over the long-term and could leave you drowning in orders and expenses as your online store takes off. To further explain, let me present some of the challenges that an eCommerce merchant will face over time without accounting integration:

1. Scaling Your eCommerce Business

Increasing online order volume is likely one of your primary goals. However, as you drive more traffic to your store and orders are being placed in greater quantities there are generally longer delays in getting them keyed into your accounting system – resulting in longer wait times for your customers. In addition, as you continue to grow your online business you may wish to expand the number of products/SKUs available for sale. Without integration this means entering new product information and inventory into 2 different systems and then trying to keep them synchronized. Say hello to the first of many growing pains!

2. Allocating Resources

When first opening an eCommerce store much of the work involved in processing orders can be handled by one person. Often that person is the business owner. However, as your online business grows all of this work will usually need to be assigned to another resource – or you risk spending too much time on tasks that aren’t enabling you to do what you do best (develop, source, and sell products). When you get to this point you may need to give more work to someone who was not hired to do data entry and is already very busy. Do you want your marketing manager or sales rep spending their time keying in orders? Your other option is to hire a data entry clerk which will come with added costs. We’ll discuss that challenge next.

3. Controlling Costs

Another goal of any eCommerce business is to be effective in controlling costs. Having to manually enter orders, inventory, product and shipping information into multiple systems can eat up many paid employee hours. Unfortunately, this approach is not scalable. The added costs associated with processing more orders and adding/updating more products can easily bite into any additional revenue you’re generating via your store. Furthermore, you have to account for the inevitable mistakes that will happen when keying in data. You could end up having to pay for shipping multiple times, replacing damaged items that you can’t resell, and for all the time correcting the mistake. Sound expensive?

4. Synchronizing Inventory & Pricing

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to keep track of inventory and pricing if it was managed in one system? Handling inventory and pricing updates in separate systems usually results in data inaccuracies, operational inefficiencies, and customer confusion. It could even lead to selling items that you don’t even have in stock. That’s a problem you don’t want to have to explain to your customers.

5. Delivering a High-Quality Customer Experience

In the hyper-competitive eCommerce landscape of today it’s hard for a business to prosper without happy customers. With user experiences improving across the industry, shoppers are now expecting better experiences when they make purchases online. Meeting these growing needs can be very challenging for an emerging eCommerce business. A perfect example of how a non-integrated online business can struggle with delivering a high-quality customer experience is with shipment tracking. The customer expectation is that their order will be updated in their online account with a shipment tracking number within a short timeframe (usually within 24 hours). Unfortunately, items purchased from merchants without automated order processing often are held up by data entry delays caused by high order volumes, absences, competing tasks, etc. Not only do these delays frustrate customers, but they can have other negative impacts, such as a hit to a business’ seller rating in a marketplace like Amazon.

Say Goodbye to Growing Pains

Ultimately, your eCommerce business will have a much greater opportunity for success if it is not faced with these challenges. Automating your business processes via integration software will enable your to reduce your operating costs and improve productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. All of which will lead to growing online sales, maximizing profits, and cultivating many satisfied customers.

Contact the team at eBridge Connections if you want to avoid these growing pains and get the most out of your eCommerce business.

Are there any other challenges that you’re facing because of a lack of integration? Let us know in the comments.

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