These 6 questions will determine if your order management process is helping or hurting your sales.
While it’s less visible than the front-end experience, your back-end process is an essential component to any eCommerce operation. It has to help you effectively manage orders in order to boost sales, increase efficiency, and support the front-end customer experience. But not every back-end system lives up to expectations. Answer these 6 questions to find out if your order management process is helping or hurting your sales.
Question 1: Does your back-end system integrate seamlessly with your eCommerce platform?
A full stack solution is an end-to-end system. Through highly technical integrations, the front-end, generally an eCommerce site, aligns perfectly with the back-end order management/ERP system. All data flows seamlessly between the two systems, creating one unified full stack solution.
Although front-end and back-end processes still work together without a full stack solution, your front-end customer experience can suffer. A full stack integration between your back-end and front-end process gives your customer the smoothest experience possible. Full stack solutions support key components such as live inventory tracking, real-time accounting updates, and access to valuable customer purchasing history. With all this data properly pushed and updated, your front-end customer experience is guaranteed to be seamless.
Question 2: Do you use workaround processes?
Workaround processes often crop up when your back-end system and eCommerce platform don’t properly integrate. If you’re using spreadsheets to externally track data or are manually updating information, you may need to rethink your process.
Workarounds can leave room for human error. Data can easily get lost or mis-transposed, processes get slowed down and become clunky, and data in your eCommerce platform might not match your back-end system. This can lead to inventory problems and customer history confusion.
Question 3: Do you have a fully integrated, real-time shipping process?
Ultimately, shipping affects your customer at two ends:
A) Choosing a shipping option
During the online ordering process, most customers look for the ability to choose a shipping option. This could be by speed or by carrier. To provide accurate timeframes and rates, your back-end system needs to both integrate with your desired shipping providers, and push this information, in real time, to your eCommerce platform. A strong back-end system will do both, while also providing lowest rates among carriers. Your customers can choose the best shipping option for them, and your shipping process will run more efficiently.
B) Tracking and receiving the order
Being able to track an order enhances the customer experience, and lets customers stay excited about their purchase. Furthermore, it’s critical that customers receive their order within the timeframe given at the time of purchase. A strong back-end system will meet all these goals through direct integrations with shipping providers. To improve efficiency (and ensure that packages go out on time), you should be able to print shipping labels and manage the delivery process from directly within your back-end system.
Question 4: Are you able to track customer data and history effectively?
Having a strong front-end customer experience often starts with knowing your customer. By allowing your customer to create an account and tracking their cart history, order history, and shipping information, you can get to know each individual visitor to your site and customize their experiences. However, this data is of little use to you unless your company has a strong back-end system that can store and cross-reference it.
For example, a user may forget their password or username and create a new account with a new email address. A strong back-end system can recognize that these accounts belong to the same user and integrate the information from the old account into the new account. Or perhaps a user previously placed an order in a brick-and-mortar store. By reconciling these accounts, your front-end user experience will be significantly stronger and help increase sales.
Question 5: Are you able to effectively offer, track, and utilize promotions such as coupon codes, online sales, and discount clubs?
Promo codes, online sales, and discount clubs are popular with today’s online consumers. In fact, many customers only shop during sale periods, or rely heavily on points earned through discount clubs. In order to provide discounts while also maintaining margins and turning a profit, your back-end system must support various complex discounts and promotions – the key word being complex. Providing a “20% off your entire purchase” discount is one thing, but more intricate promotions are another. If your back-end system can’t support every discount that you want to provide, your sales may be impacted.
For example, does your back-end system let you give consumers a discount if they reach a certain spending threshold? What if they hit that threshold, but then remove an item and drop the threshold back down? Can your system calculate when to give free shipping? Perhaps your company provides a tiered discount club system. Can your back-end system manage the promotions for each individual customer? Your accounting, inventory, and customer management systems must work together seamlessly, or you risk losing customers.
Your back-end system should be able to support your promotions effortlessly, and be able to adapt to future scenarios. No matter the promotion, your back-end process needs to be strong enough to support your discounts so that your customers have the best possible front-end experience.
Question 6: Can your back-end system handle complicated orders?
Today’s consumers are highly tech-savvy and expect their online shopping experience to just work. The customer experience should be seamless and simple, no matter how complicated the order may be. For example, your customer may want to ship items within the same order to two (or three) different addresses. Another customer may want to ask specific questions via online chat before ordering. Yet another customer may order through your catalog but want to pick up their item in-store.
For complex scenarios like these, you need a strong back-end process that has nimble functionality and can be adapted easily. However, if your back-end system cannot perform such actions, customers will likely get frustrated and sales can quickly falter.
How did you do? Did our 6-question quiz help you feel confident in your order management process? Or do you feel like your system could use some help? Fortunately, integrating a full stack eCommerce solution is easier than ever. Your business can be on the way to a more seamless and efficient experience today.
This blog post was written by Kelly Hanshaw, Director of Marketing Communications at Circle Commerce.