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eCommerce – what the web developers don’t tell you

Having eCommerce is like being pregnant – either you are, or you aren’t. You need to fully commit to opening an online store because if you don’t, it is guaranteed to fail. Whether or not you should have a web store in the first place is a separate debate. But don’t kid yourself; if you provide finished goods smaller than a jet ski and sell to Joe Public then it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

eCommerce – what the web developers don’t tell you“All I want is for people to be able to order online and pay by credit card”.

Easy? Take it from a company that’s been providing eCommerce, from MicroScooters to Mobil for six years, there are pitfalls, traps and curve balls you couldn’t possibly imagine on your journey to web store enlightenment.  Very few companies understand the process from end-to-end for ordering online to processing orders through accounts and then the logistics of dispatching from warehouse to customer.

Some examples from the coalface include:

Providing 65 per cent of all apparel in Australia, FashionBiz holds over three million items in one warehouse and keys in on average over 1000 orders  a day. You probably can’t imagine the administration behind this. The number of operators sitting there keying in orders – sometimes 200 lines per order. The time delay, the keying errors, the labour cost.

Then factor in an eCommerce solution inserting online orders immediately into your ERP system, providing you with instant onscreen response after submitting orders showing the actual order number closing the loop. It emails the client an order notification or even their invoice automatically. Consider how much time is saved per order? From minutes, hours or days manually keying orders to instant real-time and fully automated ordering with no errors. What’s that worth?

Ever wanted a scooter for roaming the streets, jumping ramps or surfing the sidewalk? Everyone who knows scooters knows MicroScooter. It’s a great business, a great product and easily available to everyone.

[Next: Being able to cater for everyone online]

Whether you are grandma buying a scooter for little Johnny or Toy World ordering another pallet, all customers order online. If they are public customers they pay via credit card. Your eCommerce solution should be able to calculate all costs, taxes, shipping and process the credit card transaction instantly in real-time. If they are wholesale customers, it should show them their correct wholesale price in the web store, including currency and calculating volume discounts as they add to basket. Upon submitting their orders it is automatically and instantly processed into your ERP system… but wait, there’s more!

Next, daily orders are sent automatically to your logistics and distribution provider where they are picked, packed and dispatched and then shipment advices are sent back to your financial system which replicates online within 60 seconds. Customers are notified via email that their goods are on their way and can even track and trace their parcel online. This represents a seamless, automated order processing system.

If you a franchise, imagine knowing what stock there is, where and how much; accurate to the last minute? You ideally want your eCommerce solution to keep your franchisees in the loop. Real-time inventory across all warehouses enables Target franchisees to view stock across all warehouses. If it’s not there – no problem. They can check stock on purchase order and even see what shipping container it’s on and its ETA. No need to miss a sale.

How about when you’re running a tight ship and margins are lean? You need accurate and timely pricing information. An eCommerce solution which updates from your ERP’s price list every 60 seconds automatically enables you to keep your data up-to-date in one place – without you even noticing.

Putting items on sale? By putting them on sale in your ERP including the date range, your eCommerce solution should put them on sale on the site within the minute and take them off sale when they sell out or when the date range ends. Seamless, simple and very effective.

eCommerce is fundamentally about streamlining and automating business. This symbiotic development process is reaping rewards and opening up entirely new ways of doing business. It’s an exciting journey; make sure you join it.

Brooke Anderson is the Managing Director of XM Developments, a Sage Endorsed Development Partner.

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Brooke Anderson

Brooke Anderson

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