No matter how niche or specialized your product lineup may be, eCommerce can help you push those items to a global market more successfully than any other form of sales. However, while eCommerce integration with back-end management systems is highly valuable in the long run, there are several potential pitfalls and bottlenecks worth keeping in mind going forward.
With that, let’s take a look at what makes the process so unique and beneficial, as well as several common mistakes to avoid in your own eCommerce integration project.
eCommerce Integration – basics & advantages
Let’s delve into some basic principles of eCommerce and its related processes before we get into the specifics of cross-functional integration.
In short, eCommerce is an online business model that revolves around the sales of goods between two parties. Customers rely on these websites for various reasons, including convenience, overseas goods delivery, lack of certain items in their home countries, etc.
Depending on the product lineup of an individual eCommerce platform, as well as the volume of customers and purchases made on a daily basis, keeping track of stock, finances, and general inventory tracking can become difficult. Thus, eCommerce integration was born as a means to bridge the gap between an online storefront and its inventory and financial systems in the back-end segment of the business; Once these systems are connected through another platform, their management, monitoring, and content updates become straightforward and seamless for website owners. In addition, several advantages can be attributed to eCommerce integration, including the following:
- Centralized item inventory, financial income, end front-end site monitoring
- Ability to automatically update inventory statuses
- Higher profit margin due to customer request automation
- Ability to expand the integration system with add-ons and extensions.
eCommerce Integration mistakes to avoid
#1 – Not understanding your business
Outlining your objectives and understanding how your internal business processes work are an important aspect in the process of integration. Without defining the end goal and gaining knowledge of different practices of your business, it is difficult to plan and implement integration in a timely manner. As well, the budget for the project can go over the anticipated amount without clearly defining the requirements of the integration. Furthermore, measuring the return on investment (ROI) becomes fairly difficult if you’re unaware of the results you which to achieve.
#2 – Lack of resource planning
If integrations can be completed internally, allocate resources strategically or hire more people to save time and create a smooth workflow. Determine if your business has a technical resource available that understands the ins and outs of both your storefront and your accounting system. If you don’t have an educated resource in-house, work with an integration partner that can provide you with the skills and knowledge to successfully complete the solution.
#3 – Lack of clear goals or KPIs
Staying up to date with industry trends and customers' expectations is an important part of staying relevant to the global market. However, starting the eCommerce integration process with no clear goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), or reasons to do so will quickly become counterintuitive.
To amend this, you should create clear goals and reasons for your eCommerce project, set a strict timeframe and deadline for its implementation, as well as several KPIs to track in relation to it. This will allow you to find meaning and functionally in the newly established integration of existing back end and front-end processes, creating a more seamless and performance-oriented workflow for your content creators, managers, and customer servicing agents.
#4 – Mismatched item numbers
One of the most important roles of any eCommerce solution is to inform individual customers of whether certain items are available for purchase. Likewise, employees in charge of filing new items and managing the back-end inventory should be on the same page in regard to codes and numbering. Even though an eCommerce integration initiative might be underway, it’s extremely important for both front-end and back-end to rely on the same naming and coding structures.
The coding and numbering systems should be aligned and operate on the same principles before integration should be initiated in order to keep all the information in a single naming system for future reference.
#5 – Lack of testing
Businesses usually overlook the need for testing their integration before going live as they see it as an unnecessary expense. However, testing can reveal any gaps in your integration solution that could cause problems in the long run and confirm if business requirements have been met. Often, one error or change in the system can cause havoc to the other components. This results in added costs that could have been avoided with systematic testing.
Even though eCommerce integration does provide certain autonomous functions and automation, its functionality shouldn’t be overestimated. Your employees will still have to provide manual customer support and address performance issues if they pop up and create bottlenecks.
Find meaningful and goal-driven ways to integrate existing eCommerce processes into a cohesive business model for your company. Before you know it, your performance will have improved to a point where incoming traffic, revenue, and word of mouth will reflect your efforts accordingly.