The following is a guest contribution by nChannel Marketing Analyst Jillian Hufford.
All growing merchants experience growing pains. You can’t keep up with incoming customer orders and inventory doesn’t stay up to date fast enough. Eventually, your manual processes cause more errors than you can keep up with. This is even harder to manage when you’re selling both in-store and online.
While this may sound like a bad thing, these are actually good problems to have! It means your business is starting to feel the burden of not integrating your POS and your e-commerce platform, and lucky for you, this is an easy fix. Your processes aren’t automated and your staff is experiencing the hindering consequences. It’s time to put integration to work, but, how do you know your business is ready for the next step of multichannel?
We’ll walk you through 6 common signs that indicate you’re ready for integration between your retail management system and your e-commerce platform; Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento.
At nChannel, we work with merchants, just like you, daily. They’re experiencing growing pains and are looking for an integrated solution to automate their processes so they can keep up with customer demand.
After talking with retailers, these are the unifying problems they face before realizing their need for multichannel integration between their e-commerce platform and POS system.
How many of these problems do you currently deal with?
With inventory flying off your shelves, it’s hard to keep up with counts. When it’s up to you to update inventory manually, it can quickly become messy and you don’t always know where inventory levels are. You may even resort to updating inventory at the end of the day instead immediately after every sale.
This puts you at risk for overselling. There’s nothing worse than having to explain to a customer that you can’t ship an item they bought because you don’t have actually have it in stock: you can bet that they won’t shop with you again.
Customers rely on you to display the correct inventory quantities — both when you have items in stock and when you don’t.
2. Spending Too Much Time on Manual Data Entry
Before integrating their systems, some merchants have whole teams manually entering data between systems. For hundreds of orders a day, you must type or paste every e-commerce order field into your POS system. Your unlucky employees can spend hours, even the majority of their workdays, just manually entering order information from one system to another.
What would you rather your staff spend time on instead of manually entering the same data over and over again?
3. Orders Shipped Wrong or Late
Manual data entry can lead to human errors like typos, misspellings, or omitted data on an order; this can lead to serious consequences. It could mean shipping to the wrong address, shipping the wrong product, or even sending the same order twice.
Even when entered correctly, manual data entry can slow down your fulfillment processes. Complex orders can take longer to ship as you coordinate shipment from different locations. You can’t easily offer faster shipping times like same-day delivery. You also can’t tell customers when an order ships or when they can expect it to be delivered. With so many competing online retailers at the customers’ fingertips, if you can’t guarantee your delivery dates then customers will find someone else who can.
4. Losing Data to System Crashes
Software crashes are even more costly for merchants who hand-key data between their systems like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce or any other e-commerce platform. If one of your systems crashes, you lose that data forever and must start over.
The cost of re-entering order data can be thousands of dollars! It takes you double the time to process those orders and you can’t track costs due to these lost sales times.
5. Inability to Make Informed Decisions
One of the biggest reasons we see merchants integrate their systems is because they’re tired of making uninformed business decisions. When inventory, order, customer, and product data is spread across disparate systems, your data isn’t timely, accurate, or immediately actionable for store associates and management teams.
It becomes hard to make decisions like when to move inventory to one location to another, when to reprint or markdown products, or how to market in one region or another. You must be able to answer questions like, how many of this product did we sell and how many of that product do we have now? Without a unified view of your data across systems, you can’t trust your data to answer simple questions like that with confidence.
6. Lack of Visibility into Data Errors
Without integration, merchants often have messy data across disconnected systems. When something goes wrong, like a lost order, it becomes impossible to track that order or investigate to find out what went wrong. You have to immediately stop what you’re doing and sort through hundreds of orders to figure out which ones were processed or lost. This is time spent that you can’t get back.
When Customer Experience Starts to Suffer
Overall, lack of integration can cause your customer experience to suffer. You spend more time on customer service calls fixing errors than focusing on enhancing their experience. Merchants can’t meet customer expectations such as:
- Stellar online product pages with consistent product descriptions
- Guaranteed delivery dates
- Customer transparency into order status
- Fast and free delivery
- Personalized shopping experience
- Accurate inventory visibility
Your customers are smart. They’ll shop with merchants who anticipate their needs and provide the best experience. While you’re in over your head with manually entering data, technology makes it even easier for customers to switch to other brands who meet their expectations.
The good news though is that multichannel integration can solve many of your problems! You can gain back your competitive edge.
Benefits of Integrating Your POS with Your E-commerce Platform
If you’re experiencing any of the problems above, then you’re ready to integrate your e-commerce platform and iQmetrix’s retail management POS, RQ. Integration allows you to automate your business processes between your systems.
You’ll be able to:
- Sync inventory quantities in real-time so you don’t oversell
- Automatically move orders accurately from Shopify to iQmetrix to accelerate fulfillment
- Provide timely shipping statues to your customers
- Guarantee delivery dates
- Sync product data to ensure consistent product listings
- Automate returns process
- Use unified view of all data to make informed and timely business decisions
- View audit trials of processed orders
- Safeguard your data against endpoint system crashes
- Integrate dropship or 3PL fulfillment
Most importantly, you’ll be able to eliminate the need for manual data entry. Think of all the hours you’ll get back in your day to focus on growing your business — you won’t be wasting money on lost time.
Multichannel integration also provides the foundation you need to expand your business and keep growing without sacrificing your customer experience.
Multichannel Integration Can be for Anyone
Any merchant who is serious about their growth can undertake an integration project between your e-commerce platform and iQmetrix. You just need to right vision and a willingness to invest in the right technology.
Are you looking for a point-of-sale that can handle more than just transactions? You’ve come to the right place! See why 20,000 retailers (and counting) use iQmetrix software to enable their business growth.
About the Author: Jillian Hufford joined nChannel as their Marketing Analyst. Using both her writing and analytic skills, she assists the Marketing and Sales teams. Jillian performs competitor market research, provides analysis of key sales metrics, and writes informative posts on multichannel commerce trends.