The pandemic has accelerated the speed of growth, but this upward trend is set to continue. Business data platform statista predicts that revenue from e-commerce will reach £80,675m in 2021 and grow to £92,461m by 2025.
Operating an e-commerce business entails challenges that are very different from those that go with running a bricks and mortar store.
Whilst every e-commerce venture is unique, typically, all require managing a range of processes and moving information between systems. In very small businesses with low unit sales, it may be feasible to handle these tasks manually. But this way of working soon becomes unsustainable as an operation scales up and services such as warehousing, packaging and shipping are outsourced to specialist partners.
The solution? E-commerce integration.
What is e-commerce integration?
Once a customer has visited your online shop and made their purchase, fulfilling an online sale requires coordinating various actions. In simple terms, e-commerce integration is the linking together of an e-commerce website with all the separate ‘back end’ processes and the software that drives them.
For your online business to run smoothly and efficiently, you’ll need to get all these systems to work seamlessly with each other. And whatever platform your website runs on, you’ll almost certainly need the assistance of an experienced web developer to help you integrate them.
Just to complicate things a little, there are two levels of integration. Some of the systems you depend on may be built into your website - for example, a payment gateway plugin that automatically integrates with your bank account and your accounting software. But you may also need to connect your website with other third-party systems such as an outsourced warehousing or shipping solution, in which case, integration may require human intervention to create a link between the automated element and the process that needs to happen.
Benefits of E-commerce Integration
Introducing e-commerce integration into your business will deliver operational efficiencies and improve the customer experience by:
- Enabling you to easily manage an uplift in customer orders
- Helping you to work smarter and faster when fulfilling orders, bringing down your per order cost
- Reducing opportunities for manual errors as information is moved between systems
- Ensuring accurate stock management, so customers are not disappointed by non or late fulfilment of orders
How Wicko Design can help you integrate
If you’re running an e-commerce business on a WordPress or Joomla platform, Wicko Design can help you connect the systems you depend on.
A great example of how we can add value to your operation by joining systems together is the get go fone mobile accessoies website we created recently for our client, creative solutions agency Kid-A. (For more on this project, read our case study).
- Stock management
A fundamental requirement for any e-commerce business is knowing exactly what stock is being held at any time. Like many businesses, get go fone outsource the warehousing of products to a specialist partner who uses their own stock management system.
To ensure that stock availability on the get go fone website is accurate and up to date, their warehousing partner creates a stock file that Wicko Design downloads daily. The file contains details of all products held offsite, and we upload this data to the website. Once uploaded, the website automatically manages stock, tracking sales and adjusting availability.
The same partner that looks after warehousing for get go fone is also responsible for shipping products to customers – again, on a separate system to the e-commerce website.
To integrate the two systems, Wicko Design downloads all sales data from the website and sends it to the shipping partner – formatted to comply with their system requirements. Once products are packed and shipped, Wicko Design receives shipping notification data which we reformat and upload to the e-commerce website, automatically generating an email to the customer to keep them updated with delivery and tracking information.
- Support services
For any e-commerce operation, the ability to offer quality customer support is crucial. Inevitably, customer service issues will require returns and refunds to be processed, involving integrating different systems. For get go fone, we’ve set things up so customers can request a support ticket via the website, and if they need to return an item, they can do so using a Royal Mail plugin tool we integrated into the site. The plugin allows them to print a label and send it back with postage prepaid by get go fone. Once returned, products are designated either as suitable to go back on sale or as faulty and to be returned to the manufacturer. Another integration process set up by Wicko Design ensures the stock management and accounting systems on the get go fone website are updated accordingly.
Let Wicko Design Integrate Your E-commerce Business & Website!
Are you running an e-commerce operation on a WordPress or Joomla website? Wicko Design can help you improve efficiency and productivity – and give you scope to grow by integrating your website with your business processes and systems.