An ad caught my eye the other day. It was asking people to pay $299 for a study on the top 10 e-commerce platforms. It suggested that the number one decision retailers had to make in 2018 was on getting a new e-commerce platform. The line that really jumped out at me was:
“More than half of e-retailers will make an investment in an e-commerce platform this year, and nearly a third of those will spend $1 million or more.”
Those are big numbers. Sure, some e-retailers are big businesses, but does this kind of expenditure make sense for a small to medium-sized business?
There are a lot of e-commerce platforms out there and, granted, some of them aren’t as expensive as $1 million. Which is good news, because my experience with our customers tells me this size of investment is a non-starter and doesn’t address their overall end to end processes requirements for their e-commerce business. The problem with most standalone e-commerce platforms, however, is their lack of integration with the rest of the software tools that SMBs use to manage their businesses.
Imagine, for instance, if your inventory management software is not integrated with your e-commerce platform. How do you ensure that what is being offered for sale is actually in the warehouse? The answer is that it is a lot of work and quite often mistakes are made. Online purchasing can happen very quickly, far more quickly than the e-commerce admin can keep up with them. If inventory is managed with a different tool or platform, mistakes are inevitable. And this kind of mistake makes for unhappy customers.
Is the e-commerce tool integrated with marketing, CRM and post-sales support tools? Can you track the interactions of the customer through his or her complete lifecycle? If not, every time the customer interacts with your organization from the beginning to the end of their journey, your personnel will be forced to get the customer to repeat a lot of annoying information that they’ve already conveyed before. Continuity and context are critical in making the customer feel as if your business really knows them, personally. How do you do this if your e-commerce platform isn’t integrated with the rest of your business tools?
Finally, how integrated is the e-commerce platform with all your other sales channels? This raises the inventory management issue again, but it also raises the issue of business analytics. If you want to know how a specific product is performing, what do you have to do to pull together the information from all your various channels? How long does it take? If a special opportunity suddenly arises to buy more of that product, how quickly will you be able to respond based on accurate and timely information?
Unfortunately, the answer to many of these questions isn’t very satisfactory. In fact, some businesses, despite having the latest and greatest software tools, are left guessing when it comes time to make a quick decision simply because it takes too much time to pull all the disparate sources of data together.
One of the characteristics of e-commerce is how quickly things move. Things go viral on-line and success can be overwhelming; too much success all at once, isn’t good for businesses that can’t process it. This is why it’s critical to have all your digital tools integrated. From marketing to sales, from inventory management to customer care and support, your e-commerce platform should be an integrated part of the whole business. This allows your business to scale in digital time, and still be in control.
Systum offers you a great e-commerce platform, but unlike all the others, it is designed as a platform for your entire business.