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How to Lose Money and Annoy Customers - Set up an Online Shop

by John Palmer on 27-Sep-2021 11:08:09

Small Business Tips

The pandemic was a wake-up call for businesses that weren’t fully exploiting eCommerce.

As lockdowns hit, businesses running traditional bricks-and-mortar retail stores suddenly found themselves with few customers. If they were lucky, they had a handful of regular buyers who used their website as a catalogue and rang to place orders.

The quick and easy solution was to ask a web developer to throw together a webshop while you had a crash course in Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce. Then the orders came in—job done.

However, as everyone switched to online shopping, the orders started flooding in. Each one had to be keyed in manually, and someone had to pick the products off the shelves, then manually input the details for the shipping company. Now, everything took twice as long, and stock control was a nightmare. Also, people were making mistakes with the data, so customers weren’t getting what they ordered, or getting it late. All in all, a nightmare.

We saw this happen with many businesses—through no fault of their own. By solving one problem, they caused others.

Automate Manual Systems Through Integration

Automation is the key. But for automation to work, you need to integrate your systems so they talk to each other. This is vital when your operations scale to where you want to use other companies to fulfil orders.

One of our clients sells in the States and wanted to offer next-day delivery. In such a vast country, you can do that one of two ways: Build loads of warehouses in strategic locations or work with a third-party logistics company (3PL). Using a 3PL makes sense, but doing so efficiently requires your systems to work together seamlessly. We integrated their ERP system with their preferred 3PL using our cloud-based integration platform, Saltbox.

We’re working with many companies that have to reverse engineer these integrations—but if they’d asked for advice earlier, we could have told them how to do it so their systems would help them grow versus stop them in their tracks. It’s like the old joke: ‘Can you tell me the best way to get to London?’ ‘Yes, but I wouldn’t start from here.’

We can show you the best way to run a successful eCommerce operation, but you might wish you had a different starting place! However, 99 times out of 100, we make it work no matter where we begin.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Accurate Data

If we could offer three bits of advice, they would be 1) data, 2) data, and 3) data. Accurate information is the secret of success. That data needs to connect products to orders, orders to payments, payments to invoices, etc.

What you need with any eCommerce system is a single source of data that connects with all your channels. Think of it like a wheel with its hub and spokes. Imagine you’re set up on Amazon and eBay in several countries and you need to change a product’s price. Without your central database, you’ll have to modify every site the product is on, which is time-consuming and error-prone. With a central source, you change the price once, and the rest change automatically.

Think Master Plan, Not Piecemeal

Another tip is how important it is to have a vision of where your company is now and where you want it to be in two to three years. It’s tempting to go the piecemeal route because it feels like you’re in control of costs, but in our experience, it’s always best to have a master plan. Any dealer can sell you software, but you should be in the market for an overall solution.

Learn More

To learn how to make eCommerce easier, visit the page below for blogs, customer success videos, on-demand webinars, demos, eBooks, and more.

Visit the eCommerce Resource Page