Purchases via e-Commerce channels are expected to grow from 9% to 14% of all US retail sales by 2021. With 80% of shoppers shopping online monthly, and one-third shopping weekly, e-Commerce is expected to continue annual double-digit growth for several years. In this landscape, an explosion of new applications and services has become available to help retailers ride this tremendous wave of growth.
These applications and services make it easier for companies to reach and target potential shoppers, merchandise products, offer personalized interactions, outsource fulfillment, provide seamless returns and many other capabilities to successfully grow in the online channel.
However, this also means that many retailers end up with multiple systems that are typically isolated, and key data is not automatically exchanged between the systems. In an environment where consumers have been trained by Amazon to expect immediate fulfillment, companies can no longer afford data bottlenecks.
Disconnected Systems = Dissatisfied Shoppers
When key e-Commerce components are not connected, manual processes increase the risk of delays and errors, contributing to an overall poor customer experience.
For example, if orders need to be manually entered from a shopping cart platform to a third-party logistics provider (3PL) system, this can lead to a delay in fulfillment — a critical showstopper when orders are not shipped until two or more days after an order is placed. And if shipping information needs to be taken from the 3PL system and manually entered into the e-Commerce platform, then that can lead to even further delays for customers to immediately get the tracking number as expected.
In today’s omnichannel world, most retailers sell across multiple channels, such as their own web site, online marketplaces, physical stores and other channels. As a result, if product availability is not updated in real time across all the channels, there is a risk of stock-outs, especially for popular products. Not only does this lead to a poor buying experience, but typically results in cancelled orders, especially when the shopper is able to find the same product from a different vendor.
With the popularity of Amazon, most retailers are selling on the marketplace or are suppliers to Amazon. To be successful with Amazon, it is critical that information is accurate and exchanged in a timely fashion between Amazon and a retailer’s backend systems, to meet Amazon’s stringent requirements.