What does the future hold for your eCommerce business? The surprising arrival and impact of COVID-19 has reminded us that no one can foretell the future, but you can future-proof your business with an ERP solution.
Global retail continues to trend digital. According to Statista, more than $4.2 billion will be spent worldwide on eCommerce products in 2020, and that number is expected to climb above $6.5 billion by 2023.
As more consumers turn to the convenience, flexibility, and even security of online shopping, eCommerce businesses must be able to scale rapidly to meet those growing demands.
One way to future-proof your digital sales streams is by investing in the right technology, including an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
What does it mean to future-proof an eCommerce business?
Let’s be honest: No one has a crystal ball, and no one can 100% predict what the markets, economy, or even distributors are going to do in just a few months—much less years. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t prepare for multiple futures by investing in the right technology and processes today.
Future-proofing means that you understand things will change. You know that the market will experience shocks, your business will face challenges, and the trends driving revenue today will ebb, flow, and alter course over time. Knowing these things, you act to create a business that is flexible, agile, and able to evolve quickly to meet new needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of the unforeseen. Most business owners didn’t foresee a time when physical locations would be shut down for months and consumers would rush to online shopping options for an even wider range of goods. But retail and eCommerce companies that had future-proofed by creating agile processes were able to pivot quickly, bringing shutdown solutions to market within weeks —or even days—of states and countries issuing orders.
5 ways an ERP solution can future-proof your online store
When many of your assets are digital, a tool that brings them together and helps you pair digital with physical is one of the best ways to future-proof your business. Check out these five ways an eCommerce ERP system can help you future-proof your eCommerce website.
1. Supports complex pricing
Pricing is critical to the success of your online store. Even if you’re not competing on a value-based proposition, consumers still want to know that all aspects of your pricing structure is correct. That includes product pricing, discounts, shipping costs, sales tax, bulk or tier pricing, and customer loyalty rewards.
It’s a lot, and it can quickly get complex as you scale. Neither you nor your customers can afford manual processes or half-integrated digital processes when it comes to pricing. That leads to delays, errors, and an eventual wall that stops you from growing because you’re scrambling to handle complex pricing tasks for every sale.
An ERP solution can remove a lot of this friction. Store all pricing data in the ERP solution, which integrates with your web store and other technology. Make updates to pricing rules in a single location, and they’ll roll out to each applicable technology and individual shopping cart.
2. Minimizes human error in processing
When it comes to eCommerce orders, human error can occur in multiple places. For example, the customer might purchase the wrong color, realize it after finalizing cart processes, and have to contact support via phone or chat. This takes the customer—and your staff—time, creating potential frustration. The ability for the customer to see that the order hasn’t been processed yet and to make changes even after the purchase was entered removes some of these issues.
Another example of the potential for human error occurs if your technical processes aren’t fully integrated and automated. If people have to intervene to get order details from one system to another, that can cause delays and errors. It also makes it impossible to scale effectively.
3. Reacts quickly to change
Because an ERP solution integrates with your existing systems and processes, it supports the ability to quickly react to change. You can change pricing almost on the fly, rolling out information to all systems so customers see them immediately. The same is true for stock data, product listings, and even policies for shipping and returns. No matter how fast the market moves, you’re not trailing behind.
With the help of Acumatica’s cloud ERP solution , Saddleback Leather , a Texas-based leather goods retailer, was quickly able to add personal protective equipment (PPE) to their product offering to support front-line medical professionals during COVID-19.
4. Simplifies your system
Strong ERP systems solve complex, enterprise-wide problems, but they do so in simple, easy-to-use ways that fit the day-to-day. Everyone can use the ERP solution to get their work done, and because it integrates with everything else, you can adopt critical “do it right once” policies. For example, pricing gets entered correctly once, and the entire system feeds off this data.
5. Keeps your store secure
The purpose of ERP solutions is to help you protect and use your resources appropriately. You can build a Frankenstein’s monster of a system, adding disparate elements as you grow and change. Or you can tie everything together, making the ERP system the heart of your operation.
Consider the security benefits of that single heart pumping information in and out of other elements. You can lock down data with built-in security to keep your store, business, and customers safer. In the Frankenstein’s monster approach, you’re leaving potential doors, hatches, and windows open, potentially allowing hackers to gain entrance to your system. And even if you’re not the victim of a cyber attack, one of these barely-held-together systems can drop off, causing bottlenecks, breaches, or even a complete halt in your processes.
A single ERP solution helps future-proof your business by creating a reliable, fast foundation that helps you protect your assets while effecting change as you need it. Without a solid foundation, you might find that growing or pivoting in the future comes with a lot more stumbling than you counted on—enough that it might even put your business in jeopardy.
Though there are many ERP and eCommerce software solutions available, Acumatica’s cloud-based ERP solution and Acumatica Commerce Edition, which seamlessly integrates with BigCommerce through the Acumatica-BigCommerce Connector, can ensure business continuity no matter what the future holds.