The Internet became a mainstream technology that found relevance at universities and corporations in the 2000s and it paved the way for multi-billion organizations like Facebook and Google. Ten years down the line, the online software industry was becoming a part of our daily lives, with eCommerce and cloud software solutions becoming the major disruptors that everyone was very enthusiastic about, at least in silicon valley.
However, despite eCommerce being widely adopted by consumers, very few businesses have realized its vast potential. Today, eCommerce isn’t limited to selling your products on your website – it’s much, much more. We are talking about social selling, online marketplaces, affiliates, resellers, brick and mortar stores and a lot more.
All these various facets of today’s retail landscape benefit from being integrated into one technology stack or ecosystem. In fact, if you are reading this article, you are among the most informed decision-makers in the online retail industry. And that’s the agenda today – integration-first ecosystems for multichannel selling.
At Cin7, we knew this fact first hand and we set out to help our customers remain viable in the ever changing retail landscape. We recently conducted a wide-scale study on multichannel selling. To our surprise, the market’s awareness of what can be achieved by combining a robust ecosystem of interconnected software with data and automated processes was lower than we expected.
Here’s what our study found. An inventory management solution is only as good as the number of seamless integrations it can support. As a result, Cin7 continues to focus on expanding the ecosystem of integrated eCommerce solutions we offer to provide further efficiencies to run your business smoothly.
As a result, we can proudly say that we have over 550 apps onboard Cin7 and this is one of our biggest competitive advantages.
The Role Of Integrations In eCommerce
You, like many others, are working hard to increase your eCommerce sales. It becomes more difficult to control sales volume as you expand and scale. Your eCommerce system needs other 3rd party systems to operate and manage major aspects of your growing business. Getting all these individual systems to communicate with one another is a separate matter.
Consider all of the systems on which your growth plan is based. If they aren’t already connected, think about how this could be influencing your business model. For perspective, let’s consider one of the findings from our study and resulting ebook on multichannel selling: integrating your sales and accounting apps can increase your profitability by 43%.
Is your company ready to get started with a fully integrated inventory control system?
The synchronization of a company’s front end with its backend systems, such as inventory management software or a CRM system, is known as eCommerce integration.
In theory an integration, like an API, allows software programs to exchange data to maintain accounting records, share insights and inform business decisions. Integration centralizes the front end operations and keeps your business processes on the same page. Multichannel selling requires multiple layers of support for different functionalities, be it payment gateways, logistics partners or client servicing methods.
Without interconnecting your front and backend apps, your operations remain primarily manual and exposed to human error. You may undersell or oversell; miship, misquote; and even end up leaving customers unserviced. Multichannel selling sounds very interesting and lucrative, but it can easily turn chaotic if you don’t have the right eCommerce integrations in place.
For instance, if your backend isn’t integrated with a particular sales channel, you’ll have to manually update the inventory count in both your inventory system and in the selling channel.
This is where the value of a well-implemented multichannel eCommerce integration ecosystem becomes abundantly evident. Integration ensures that your technology stack is homogeneous, that insights travel smoothly and every program executes its tasks accurately.
Benefits Of Integrating Your Sales Channels With Your Backend
As more businesses embrace online sales and brick-and-mortar storefronts become less important, the demand for multichannel integration has skyrocketed. Here are four advantages of using multichannel integrations:
#1 Ditch Manual Order Input
Connecting your selling channels with your backend system minimizes manual and redundant data inputs and enhances data interchange speed. Since you need to input the same data at multiple locations for every transaction, automation becomes a critical component of successful multichannel selling.
#2 Enhanced Data Utility
With seamless connectivity across different functions of your business ecosystem, accuracy is never a guessing game. Inventory synchronization, real-time tracking updates and pricing; every sphere improves with data pooling. It all results in improved data utility because you can capture data across touchpoints and convert it into utilizable insights that trigger coordinated sales.
#3 Improved the Customer Experience
When your sales channels and backend are connected, your support reps can provide quick problem resolution and handle queries like product availability and shipping updates. You will also be able to reach out to the same user on different platforms according to their preferences and maintain a consistent brand presence.
#4 Expanding Into New Markets
Integrations allow your company to expand into more online markets while maintaining operational efficiency. New clients become available with each additional sales channel. Diversified income sources, greater customer experience and increased operational margins are all icing on the cake when it comes to expanding your brand through eCommerce integration.
Multichannel Selling Integration Roadblocks
Multichannel selling requires a free flow of information, automation and timely human intervention. Integrations can be cascading or real-time synchronous in nature, depending on the type of transaction.
Benefiting from a modern technical stack necessitates a technological workflow that rises above a legacy system.
Organizations frequently ignore the need for a closely-knit, advanced ecosystem of dedicated apps out of fear of high expense. They may also fear disrupting what established mechanisms have already been doing for them.
There are a few challenges that businesses must overcome to build a successful multichannel selling integration platform. Here are four potential roadblocks:
#1 Not Understanding Requirements
One of the most common problems that businesses experience occurs before they have even started to use a centralized integration platform. Many businesses are unsure where to begin.
IT stakeholders are unsure of what their company requires in order to effectively manage trade partners, customers and other internal and external connectors that make up their digital ecosystem.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the decision process. IT managers are concerned about having enough IT employees to support and maintain an integration platform in addition to their usual responsibilities. There’s also the fear that migrating data from one system to another may lead to mistakes, security concerns or data loss.
Companies must first achieve internal alignment before beginning a integration modernization path. They should figure out what they want to accomplish through integration, what obstacles they’ll have to overcome and what systems they’ll be integrating.
Further, businesses must determine whether data should be synced between systems and which procedures and workflows can and should be automated.
With the end goal in mind, the proper eCommerce integration project can begin.
#2 Systems That Are Obsolete Or That Are Part Of A Legacy System
While everything appears to be running smoothly on the service, the truth is that depending on legacy and obsolete technology leads businesses to drop and miss orders. Their technology does not allow them to see every single online order from beginning to end.
Legacy systems are clumsy and difficult to work around when compared to a contemporary integration platform.
Sometimes the tools and processes you’ve relied on for years still work for you and will satisfy your day-to-day company demands for the foreseeable future. When it comes to bringing on new partners and services, migrating apps to the cloud or supporting big data projects, legacy systems sometimes fall short of what your business needs to succeed.
It’s probably time to modernize your eCommerce solution if you’re getting chargebacks from your trade partners or don’t have the technical expertise to fulfill API connectivity needs.
#3 Lack Of Multichannel Management Capabilities
Traditionally, an eCommerce platform has provided businesses with technology that allows them to sell to their consumers on their website using a standard web browser. This disregards two critical considerations:
Call centers, brick and mortar storefronts, mail order catalogs, online marketplaces and other marketplace websites are other ways that retailers sell.
Customers want to buy using their own devices, whether it’s an iPhone or a personal laptop, so acquiring master data that can sync with the other systems connected to those customer contact points is a continental consideration.
#4 Lack Of Visibility
Product sellers that have yet to update their technical stack suffer from a lack of visibility, which prevents them from making real-time, performance-based choices. Companies may consolidate the amount of control they have over a piece of data and get end-to-end visibility by combining outdated integration platforms to improve business operations.
Companies may begin to obtain total visibility for every online order after completely adopting a modernized integration platform. Consider the benefits of having comprehensive omnichannel integration visibility. With full EDI and API connections, you can see all of your online, retail and wholesale orders in one place.
Getting Ready For Multichannel Selling Integration
Many firms put off multichannel integration because it seems complicated and they are concerned that projects will go over budget or take too long. However, integration is easier than you may think. The trick is to plan and prepare ahead of time and choose a solution provider with extensive onboarding services.
Begin by determining which of your manual procedures are prone to mistakes. When you find sluggish, complex or superfluous procedures, you can employ integration methods to eliminate them so that your team can focus on more important and high-value work.
The next phase in the planning process is to consider your customer’s journey. You may find areas that can be simplified with eCommerce integration by reviewing consumer shopping behavior.
Then you should think about how data travels between your systems. Examine how your data is transported, how you maintain customer information and how your accounting system manages payments, among other things. You may then determine which functions can be merged or automated.
You may choose the proper integration technique via APIs after knowing which areas might benefit from integration. As long as the appropriate functions are included, you will be able to meet your present and future eCommerce demands.
Your eCommerce business may become considerably more productive if you employ integrations in the right manner. You may obtain insights from integrated data that can help you make wiser decisions that are in line with your business goals. Increased demand may also be handled more easily with an eCommerce integration platform without the need for extra staff.
A modern technical stack also aids in the elimination of mistakes and allows your company to improve the customer experience. As a result of all of these advantages, your eCommerce operation will generate more income and minimize costly errors.
At the end of the day, the eCommerce industry is saturated, so making your firm stand out requires a lot of effort. Thus, integration-first inventory management ecosystems are the first step into leveraging the capabilities employed by the biggest players in your sectors.
Read the detailed report on “How Product Sellers Adapted to Change and Sold More” to know how other players in your industry are making integrations in multichannel selling work for them.