Date: February 28, 2014
Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing, Dydacomp
Your website may have started out as an informational site for customers to learn about the products you offer, but today it’s likely a strategic, effective sales tools that’s vital to the success and growth potential of your retail business. If you’re like other online retailers, you may now be selling through multiple websites and through multiple sales channels like Amazon, eBay, etc.
The good news is you’re expanding your reach and growing your online business; the challenge becomes managing the effect this has on your back office operations. Bridging the gap between your back office and your online store(s) enables you to streamline your operations, increase productivity and ultimately get products to customers when they expect to receive them.
So, what’s the bridge? The bridge is automated order management software that connects your back office to your online store(s) and gives you visibility across all sales channels. An order management system may come with connectivity to your online store platform or you may need an EDI connector to provide that link.
Back office operations sit on one side of the bridge. This involves all of the critical day-to-day activities you do behind the scenes to keep your business running smoothly. Examples include managing inventory and shipping processes, processing payments, and reporting on multichannel activities to gain visibility of orders and inventory across all of your sales channels.
The other side of the bridge is your online retail store(s) which, in turn, connects you to other sales channels. As you expand into other sales channels, your business model may change along with your day-to-day activities. If there isn’t a direct connection between your back office operations and your online operations, a gap is formed
For example, one of your sales channels may require that you keep a certain amount of inventory on-hand in order to publish your products for sale on their website, requiring you to segregate your inventory and reserve stock for that channel. Or that channel may require that you pack items in a specific manner, which your packers will need to be aware of when fulfilling orders for that channel. There are various ways in which your operations can be affected, the bottom line is that your business model is changing and you need a way to accommodate these changes without jeopardizing your productivity.
One of the biggest gaps that growing businesses develop involves inventory visibility across all sales channels. It’s not easy to manage inventory manually. It can involve managing multiple warehouses, drop shipping, bins and lot tracking, merchandise returns and restocking, shipment optimization and multiple costing methods. A fully integrated order management system provides this visibility and gives you access to consistent and accurate information about available stock quantities to support cross-channel order entry and customer service.
Inventory accuracy is vital to excellence in customer service. The last thing you want to do is accept an order and then go back to the customer to say your available quantity was wrong and in fact you do not have the inventory to fulfill their order. This could have a tremendous impact on the customer’s experience, affecting the likelihood that they will become a return customer and risking that they share their experience through a social media voice.
Another way an order management system can bridge the gap is helping you automate pre-established reorder points and alerts that generate purchase orders automatically to ensure you never disappoint a customer with and out-of-stock situation.
Fulfilling your orders is also made easier when your online store and back office are in sync. Automated fulfillment capabilities should allow you to control the pick/pack/ship workflow, whether a single or multi-step process. You should expect it to automatically issue pick tickets, packing slips, and handle third party invoicing. In addition, you will be able to easily handle multiple ‘ship to’ addresses on a single order.
Let’s look at some of the other benefits of integrating your online store with your back office.
- Eliminate manual data entry and the errors associated with human error and the need to enter the same data in multiple locations or multiple systems.
- Automate the shopping to shipping process will allow you to process more orders in less time.
- Help to eliminate out-of-stock situations that can lead to lost sales and unhappy customers.
- Easily add drop shipping options to reduce cost, processing time and bottlenecks associated with carrying your own inventory.
- Quickly and easily connect with suppliers, marketplaces and internal systems for increased productivity and efficiency.
- Facilitate payment processing, including issuing and tracking refunds.
The bottom line is that all growing businesses, big and small, need to bridge the gap between back office operations and online store(s). The results are streamlined operations, freeing up time that was previously spent doing manual adjustments and increasing staff productivity. More importantly, it will ensure that your customers have the best possible shopping experience!
Access a special on demand webinar, Tools to Connect Your Online Store and Back Office, created by Dydacomp and Logicbroker to learn how Logicbroker’s deep integration with Dydacomp’s M.O.M. (Multichannel Order Management System) fully automates the EDI order process.
To learn about how an end-to-end EDI integration can help your business run more efficiently, click here.