Posted by: Laura Hills
So, you had a great idea for a product. You seized the market opportunity and decided to go for it. You built a great website using an eCommerce platform like Magento. And, now you’ve got a successful online retail business. Way to go!
Now how do you get your back office operations working together with your webstore to make sure you always have enough product on hand and that the pick/pack/ship flows smoothly? We know that managing inventory and order fulfillment isn’t the most exciting part of becoming an eCommerce merchant, but it can make or break a web store’s success.
Integrated Solutions for Retailers recently asked Magento experts Dydacomp, EYEMAGINE, and Redstage to explain what sets them apart from other Magento solution providers and how the eCommerce platform helps retailers engage with and excel in omni-channel retailing. Here’s a synopsis of just one question addressed in the article entitled “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”
How would you describe the essential integration between e-commerce and back office processes?
Dydacomp: At Dydacomp, we break this integration down into stages. Once a retailer starts getting more than 20 or so orders per day, it becomes difficult to simply print the orders and process and fulfill those orders manually. They need a back office fulfillment system, and that’s where the fun begins.
First, you must have a way to get customer orders from your Magento e-commerce platform into your back office environment. This is the first stage of implementing an inventory and order management system. Our systems integrate with Magento and allow mapping of order, customer and product information so that orders are extracted and imported fast and accurately.
Second, you must process the order with a focus on both fulfilling the order and simultaneously managing and updating inventory. The pick and pack process is automated to assure accuracy. Inventory quantities are decremented for the units picked, quantity updates are sent back to the e-commerce platform or other order source immediately, low-levels may be reached triggering purchase orders for replenishment. Back-ordered items are identified and the appropriate customer notices are triggered.
Finally the products must be shipped, shipping costs validated and finalized, shipping methods matched to customer preference, shippers selected and product shipped from local or 3rd party sources. Billing is completed and shipment tracking information is received and passed back to the customer through the channel where the product was ordered. In the end, the customer receives the product on time and at the price agreed.
EYEMAGINE: The only word that comes to mind to describe this integration is “necessary.” The alternatives are manual tabulation or cron based export and sync jobs. This can suffice, but it is certainly not ideal for a modern e-commerce company that is experiencing rapid growth and trying to stay lean. The time it takes to reconcile orders and inventory manually across multiple channels, and the potential for human error involved in doing it the “old fashioned” way holds many businesses back from achieving success; they often seem to rationalize this to themselves by saying things like “we’re not quite there yet” or “what if we grow too fast?”
When these are the reasons being given, we often find ourselves speechless, as we have a difficult time understanding the mindset of the individual that is not ready to embrace success and actualize their business dreams into reality. However, these individuals do exist out there, and for them the reality of maintaining “control” of their systems and silo-ing technology platforms that do not communicate with one another seems to offer them some level of comfort, knowing that they can “pump the brakes” if things start getting “out of control.” In other words, they can inadvertently constrain the growth trajectory of an entire company and compromise the future of their fellow employees and position in the marketplace in an effort to maintain the fallacy of “control” over software.
Redstage: Usually each channel must be integrated into a centralized ERP or order/inventory management system. This way there is one central location for available information on inventory and inventory locations. Ecommerce and POS systems are usually integrated into a centralized system in this way. POS and e-commerce systems can be synchronized directly, but that generally makes it harder to avoid inventory allocation issues, as neither system is well equipped to manage inventory at that level.
Systems that are designed to sell in a particular channel usually do not include features to manage the flow of inventory through both channels.
Read the full article here: “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”
To learn more about ‘Getting The Most Out of Your Magento Investment – The Back(Office) Story’, watch this 30 minute webinar sponsored by Dydacomp and Magento. Click Here to register for access.