5 Ways Integrated Operations Support E-commerce
When our customers think about shopping, they generally think about both physical stores and e-commerce environments - often without giving much regard to the processes that enable them to be successful. For retailers, this means that having both a strong physical, brick and mortar, and digital presence are integral for success. To do so, they must also establish a consistent and reliable way to ensure that the operational aspects of all locations are working effectively; and without getting siloed from other ongoing processes. And for many, an ERP can be the perfect solution for these needs. In this post, we’re looking at 5 ways an ERP can help your e-commerce efforts with integrated operations.
- Order fulfillment: If you have an online store and every time you receive and order, your employees have to process the order and ensure that it is shipped to the right place on time, you can be sure that this could become an increasingly time consuming process. With an ERP, when your e-commerce site receives an order, it is automatically processed and the right people receive all necessary order information. Having an ERP do this for you has a few major benefits, but the biggest is probably the decrease in human involvement necessary. This not only frees up valuable employee time to do other things aside from manually entering data, it also reduces the incidence of error through the automation of repetitive manual processes.
- Data accuracy and availability: One of the biggest benefits associated with an ERP is its single database across all operations that makes key data available immediately and across locations. Since there’s no delay in waiting for such data to be synchronized, key decision makers can act quickly and more decisively with confidence. It also means that there is a single version of truth so there’s a much lower risk of working off of old information that is no longer accurate or relevant.
- Merchandising considerations: Inventory management is no small feat when it comes to multiple locations and fulfillment methods (think shipping vs in-store pickup), so any opportunities to simplify such processes is key. Picture this: your online location is doing great, so you increase your marketing spend, receive more orders than you expected and now, once it’s too late, you realize that you don’t have the inventory to fulfill it - leading to major delays. If you had an ERP in this situation, your stock and e-commerce website would have been synced; meaning that when your stock began to get low, more would have been ordered and made available automatically. Additionally, over time, as your ERP gets ‘smarter’ it will be able to better predict what products need to be available - minimizing how much time your product is out of stock.
- Customer management: Your ERP should support an e-commerce platform that can create a single customer identity, enable managing their account, order history, wish lists, loyalty and more. A retail server can manage their shopping cart, shipping details, taxes, and OpenID connect for customer authentication. These different efforts together with the rest of your operations can serve to create the best buying experience possible and to simplify the lives of your customer service team - making them more effective in their jobs; ultimately leading to more satisfied customers.
- Reduced operating costs: Having a platform to handle the heavy operational aspects of your physical and online stores minimizes waste of time, money, and resources. Once your e-commerce is integrated with your ERP, your business can function as a more effective whole - minimizing the spend associated with managing your different channels. As mentioned earlier, the automation of key processes and elimination of manual data entry also save resources and minimizes error - ultimately lowering your overall operating costs.
From these reasons, it’s clear that the functionality associated with an ERP for your e-commerce and physical environments can make a huge difference in the daily lives of your employees and the bottom line of your business. However, choosing the right ERP and partner to implement it will be integral for businesses to achieve these operational improvements - and to do so in a manner that causes minimal data loss or disruption along the way. Their experience in not only the implementation of the ERP of your choice but also in the retail industry can help you to better anticipate your platform needs for the future and ensure that your employees have a supportive transition process.
E-commerce is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, so getting the ideal arrangement for your business will be essential for your ongoing success for years to come. An ERP can help you to achieve this by simplifying and managing many of the operations necessary to run a successful online and instore retail business. If you want to learn more about how an ERP could be the solution for your digital and physical needs, make sure to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your complimentary consultation.
Want a more comprehensive look at how bringing together your operations can help grow your retail business? Check out our ebook Unified Operations for Retail Growth to find out more about integrated data platforms could be the solution you need.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.