September 20, 2017
Most retailers do the bulk of their annual business during the traditional holiday season or other branded holiday opportunities. Unfortunately, that’s also when many retailers discover that process inefficiencies and disconnected data flows are delivering a disjointed and disappointing customer experience right when it matters most. And that can lead to poor ratings, damaged reputation, and lost sales.
As you plan for the holiday season—and other peak shopping days for your products—it’s important to make sure your eCommerce ecosystem is up to the task. For example, if you use separate, siloed systems for customer communications, fulfillment, inventory management, and product updates, then your apps aren’t talking fluently to your ERP or each other, and that can hurt your ability to do business. Solid integration between Magento Commerce, your ERP, and all other systems that run your business will eliminate manual data-entry chokepoints, and keep you agile and able to scale as order volumes spike.
How Prepared is Your Business for The Coming Holiday Buying Season?
Ask the following questions to find out:
Do you spend 10+ hours a week manually moving data between systems?
Many merchants discount the impact to the business of even “quick” manual processes related to orders and fulfillment. But what seems tolerable now—15 minutes per order to manually move or re-enter data to your fulfillment system, for instance—will translate to significant slowdowns and errors when you go into rush mode. That means you’ll be unable to operate smoothly at what should be your most successful time of year, and you simply won’t be able to scale for growth.
Are all of your sales channels accurately showing product availability?
If you still rely on clunky manual or batch processes to keep sales and inventory in sync, then spikes in order volume might stall your ability to sell right when customers are most eager to buy. In-stock inventory mistakenly listed as out-of-stock (or the reverse) will create a confusing and frustrating customer experience. And accurate product availability is even more essential when you sell across multiple channels.
Is product and price information reliably up to date, everywhere?
If you make frequent changes to your product catalog that sits within your ERP, it’s essential that these updates automatically roll out across all of your selling channels. Because customers—especially customers in holiday rush mode—won’t be happy with anything less than up-to-the-minute information on price and product details such as colors, descriptions, images, and sizes.
Can you meet customer expectations after the order is placed?
Most sellers have fulfillment targets (e.g. within two hours of checkout), a metric that can become impossible to meet when orders spike if you aren’t prepared. You need to be sure that orders automatically flow from your Magento Commerce storefront to your fulfillment center (whether you fulfill directly or via 3PL), and that your call center has the real-time visibility to quickly answer customer calls on order status.
Are returns and cancellations as easy as placing a new order?
In a recent survey of online shoppers, nearly 50% of shoppers returned an item purchased online—in particular, apparel items—and 95% of shoppers indicated they would buy again from a retailer after a positive returns experience, a clear competitive advantage. Do you have an easy, clearly defined returns process that gives customers visibility into the status of their returns (and refunds)? If so, it can go a long way toward ensuring holiday customers become repeat customers.
Beyond traditional peak holiday selling spikes, there are other selling opportunities that can cause big jumps in order volumes and propel you into a situation that outstrips your ability to track and fulfill at the pace customers expect. Let’s say your product is going to be featured as “Today’s Special Value” on QVC. That’s the kind of break that can temporarily boost orders into the stratosphere, just like a holiday rush.
It’s just common sense: Make sure your Magento Commerce platform is seamlessly integrated with the backend systems that automate orders, deftly manage inventory, sync critical data, and provide real-time visibility where—and when—it’s needed most. And that same level of tight integration is just as important between your ERP and cloud-based apps that run other key business processes for you, such as Amazon, eBay, JIRA, Zendesk, and the like.
Everyone loves a holiday bonus. Having the right systems in place and intelligently integrated before the bonus arrives will make sure you’re ready and able to “take it to the bank.”
About Chris Generalis and Celigo
Chris is in charge of strategic alliances for Celigo. While at Magento Commerce, PayPal, and eBay, Chris developed strategic partnerships to extend the value of these products. At Celigo, Chris is establishing and nurturing a partner ecosystem for cloud integrations. Used by thousands of companies, Celigo’s SmartConnectors™ provide out-of-the-box, prebuilt integrations for popular cloud applications including NetSuite, Magento Commerce, Amazon, eBay, Salesforce, Zendesk, and others. Celigo’s iPaaS platform, integrator.io, can be used by tech-savvy business users and operations staff to quickly and easily build their own integrations between any applications. Visit www.celigo.com to learn about how you can streamline your business with Celigo’s integration solutions. Do you need to integrate Magento Commerce with your ERP and other systems? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free demo!