Is It Time to Upgrade Your E-Commerce to an Integrated Solution?
It’s hard to find anyone today who doesn’t use e-commerce in some way. If your business involves selling products online, you likely recognize how competitive this industry has become and how difficult it can be to maintain a foothold in the marketplace.
One challenge that most e-commerce operations face is keeping up with continually evolving technology. It’s likely just a matter of time until you must decide whether to upgrade your online platform. If you choose to stick with the same setup, your platform may not sufficiently support your operation, especially if your business is growing. Consequently, you’ll no longer be able to serve your customers’ needs, causing them to take their business elsewhere.
On the other hand, upgrading to a more robust platform doesn’t come without risk. Adapting to new technology takes time and can create confusion for your customers. The failure to manage the transition effectively could have devastating — and expensive — business ramifications.
When to Upgrade Your E-Commerce Platform
If your current e-commerce system meets your present needs and you’re still experiencing high conversion rates, you probably won’t need to make a change immediately. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you should strongly consider upgrading or implementing a new integrated e-commerce platform:
- Diminished ROI: If you use a system long enough, you’ll likely reach a point where you’re putting too much time and effort into maintaining it. Look for warning signs such as increased maintenance costs, difficulty finding developers who will work with your platform and unavailable vendor support services.
- Lack of scalability: While most e-commerce platforms will accommodate volume increases, they do have a ceiling. Once you’ve exceeded that threshold, your system won’t be able to handle the heavier load. You’ll need to upgrade to keep your business growing.
- Inadequate flexibility: As your e-commerce business evolves, you’ll likely need to add platform features or make other modifications. If your platform can no longer fulfill your customization requirements, it’s time to make a change.
- Customer dissatisfaction: If customers have difficulty using your e-commerce platform, they’re less likely to complete a purchasing transaction or make a return visit. If you’re noticing an increase in negative feedback, you should consider a platform upgrade to prevent a drop in sales volume.
What Is an Integrated Solution?
For many online businesses, transitioning to integrated solutions for e-commerce delivers the best and most cost-effective long-term results. This type of system will use your current ERP’s logic and data to drive your online store’s platform. The process entails software installation inside your ERP. Consequently, there’s no need for complicated third-party connectors that can increase your system’s complexity and provide more opportunities for bugs and failures to arise.
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The Benefits of an Integrated Solution in E-Commerce
Integrated e-commerce platform solutions offer a host of advantages for online business operations, including:
- Streamlined data entry: These integrated solutions will automatically and seamlessly transfer orders to your ERP, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. The process saves time and increases order accuracy.
- Fewer errors: Manually re-keying orders into an ERP can lead to costly typos, transposition of figures and a range of other mistakes. An integrated solution reduces the need for human intervention by eliminating a step in the process. As a result, you’ll gain more satisfied customers and reduce the burden on your service teams.
- Record synchronization: An integrated solution simplifies record-keeping procedures. For instance, when a customer updates their shipping or billing address, the system will automatically share the information both online and in your ERP. The same will hold true for your inventory system when a customer places an order.
- Reduced cycle times: The seamless flow of orders provided by integrated solutions for e-commerce results in faster processing, picking and shipping. Your customers will receive their goods quicker — in many cases, this change can shave several days off delivery times.
- Cost savings: Integrated e-commerce platforms provide yet another example of how introducing automation can lower operating costs. You’ll need less human labor for data entry, customer service and error correction, which will have a positive impact on your business’s bottom line.
Choosing a New Solution
Consideration of the following factors will help you select the right integrated e-commerce solution for your business:
- Two-way integration: Your system should be bi-directional, facilitating the transfer of data to and from your ERP and online platform. Examples of the data that should flow from your site to the ERP include payments, orders, new and updated customer and shipping information and changes in stock/inventory levels. Conversely, the data that should automatically update and transfer from your ERP to your e-commerce site consists of product and pricing information, inventory additions and special promotions or offers.
- Cloud-based: Choosing an SaaS cloud system facilitates the use of APIs to achieve ERP integration, which saves time and makes the process more user-friendly. Cloud-based systems are also compatible with real-time updates and offer endless synchronization possibilities.
- Allow for testing: Testing before going live is essential for the successful implementation of an integrated e-commerce solution. It will enable you to identify any integration issues and possible synchronization errors between the ERP and the online platform. It will also allow your team to become familiar with the upgraded software features and learn how to use them.
- Access to training and support: Make sure your e-commerce platform solutions provider offers training for your team before the launch. It should also provide ongoing access to technical support and be responsive to your needs when any issues occur.
FDM4 Offers Integrated Solutions for E-Commerce
For more than 38 years, FDM4 has been a leading provider of high-quality software solutions for a wide range of apparel and consumer goods industry applications. Trust us to use our decades of expertise to help you determine when to update your e-commerce platform and recommend the best product for the task. As a one-stop shop, we can offer software and hardware options and host them on your network or our own if you prefer a cloud-based e-commerce platform solution. Contact us to request a free demo today.