What integrations do eCommerce merchants need to successfully streamline their service?
When starting out, an eCommerce merchant needs to wear a number of hats and manage all of the processes themselves. As the business grows and orders and requisite stock levels surpass a manageable level, automation will be critical.
The goal of an eCommerce-enabled website should be to give the customer a seamless experience that is just as easy- if not easier – than going into a physical store. Once your website live and you’re receiving a decent volume of orders, you will need to think about how to streamline your fulfillment process as well as manage your inventory, accounting and customer engagement. Rather than hiring several new staff members (and chewing up profits), consider automation software.
What automations do you need and which ones should you choose?
Every business is unique and will have its own set of specific requirements. There are a number of key automations you could consider once business is at a level where you can afford to pay for the tech.
Some of the most common areas of retailing that may benefit from automation include:
Order Fulfillment, Shipping & Tracking
CRM & Marketing Automation
In terms of how to figure out what you need, undertake an audit of your current processes, the time it takes to do the activities and what issues/errors do you commonly face by doing these processes manually? Spend time doing each process yourself so you can personally understand where the friction is for both you and the customer.
Do these issues cost you time or money – or both? Are they detrimental to the customer experience and therefore potentially a reason for a customer to churn or not return to your online store in the future?
Once you have a shortlist of the issues, you can then work out what resolutions are required and begin your search for suitable software solutions. Many software integrations will be expensive and require an investment of time and money to get set up so ensure you research what other’s experiences have been during implementation. Compare not only the prices and user reviews but also double check which complementary integrations they play nicely with – does your proposed inventory management system integrate with Shopify and Xero for example? Can you add on a shipping integration down the track or will you have to replace one of your other integrations in order to have a cohesive and seamless platform? All of this should play a part in your final decision making.
Can I afford to invest in automation software?
When considering the cost versus benefit, decide what your time is worth – either in terms of dollars per hour or what the opportunity cost is if you have to spend that time on admin versus time with family and friends. Many people look to outsource chores and administration tasks as they are time poor – or because the opportunity cost is greater than the cost to outsource. Is an extra 15 hours to focus on your business or spend time with your children worth more than $100 a month for the software? If yes, then the benefit outweighs the cost and makes sense for you. Many fledgling businesses cannot afford to invest in expensive software but today you can find cost effective, SAAS (software as a service) models that are under a hundred dollars a month. Shop around and work out what works for your business – you don’t want to negate all of your profits but the return on investment could be a thousand-fold.
Here’s a real life example: Successful online retailer and wholesaler, Miann & Co use Shopify, TradeGecko and StarShipIT. Together this integration combination saves Terry several hours a day on both stock counting and fulfillment, meaning they now need one less warehouse staff member which was costing them over $40,000 a year. For the cost of investing in two automation SAAS products, they save$40,000, making great economic sense.
How do I know which one to choose?
Consider the key players in each integration’s market and look to see who partners with who. This will give you a good indication that the potential integration has been tested, reviewed and endorsed by their customers. If the software isn’t being promoted on their app store, there’s a chance there’s a good reason for that.
Which eCommerce platform are you using? Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce and other big players all have app listings on their site, with real user reviews. Compare reviews for your top 3 integrations – what areas crop up as potential red flags? What do customers compliment or complain about? Is that a deal breaker for you?
Lastly, don’t be afraid to change integrations if it’s not working for you. The benefit gained by moving to a better provider will outweigh the pain of moving. A good integration partner should be like a member of your extended team.
It’s all about the team behind you, not just the staff you work with but the integration partners, like Shopify, TradeGecko and StarShipIT – they’re also part of your team. When you get that right, then life gets a lot easier and it frees you up to focus on a lot of other things in the business. You don’t have to waste time typing in addresses into a piece of software, and you know there’s a team out there looking after that.
Terry and Rebecca Meyer, Miann & Co (read the full case study here)
Over the next few weeks, we will be showcasing the products of our key integration partners and providing real customer stories that highlight the benefits they have experienced personally from those integration combinations. StarShipIT integrates with over 11 preferred carriers across Australia and New Zealand as well as the top integration brands in each key automation field.
You can find out more about each of our key integration partners here. If you have any questions about how to connect StarShipIT to any of these, we have comprehensive setup documentation on our support centre or contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keen to try StarShipIT for yourself? Sign up for a FREE 30 day trial, we will be in touch shortly to help you get set up and shipping straight away!