Today there are automated solutions that can streamline and improve just about every step of your e-commerce process — order and inventory management, bulk listing across multiple marketplaces, dynamic re-pricing, and automated shipping solutions.
That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news: If your team is working with different vendors to manage each component of your order management process, these “solutions” might be creating more problems for your business than they solve. Here’s what we mean…
1. Managing multiple eCommerce solutions costs your company valuable time.
The more vendor relationships your team has to manage, the less time they have to focus on growing your core business.Let’s say you work with a shipping software provider to automate order shipments. That’s great. But that relationship needs care and feeding. And if your team is also simultaneously working with a different partner to handle your bulk listing on new online marketplaces, and yet another vendor to help with your re-pricing, this means your team is spending a lot of time talking with vendors — time they can’t devote to more important tasks for your business. This also means your team has to integrate multiple solutions: an order management system, a bulk listing system, a shipping system and a re-pricing solution.
2. You can lose key business intelligence if your inventory management process runs on multiple solutions that don’t talk to each other.
This risk is less obvious than the first, but just as important to your business. Here’s why.Let’s say you use one vendor’s solution for dynamic re-pricing and a different vendor’s system to manage your shipping process. Now let’s assume that these two systems don’t work together — which is often the case if your repricing and shipping solutions come from 2 different providers.If your dynamic re-pricing system doesn’t know all of the variables your shipping software uses to estimate shipping costs, how can you be sure you’re optimally re-pricing your products?You can’t — because some of those variables will be lost in translation across two incompatible solutions. Your only option will be to have your team manually enter shipping-cost calculations into your re-pricing process. Some automated solution that is
3. You might choose a less-than-optimal partner for a step in the process — which could harm your entire online selling effort.
Some of the inventory management solutions that don’t offer an all-in-one solution have tried to turn this weakness into a feature. “Here’s great news!” they’ll say, “our solution is compatible with these 5 different shipping solutions.”So which of those 5 shipping solutions should you choose?What these vendors are doing, of course, is masking the fact that they can’t support your entire multi-marketplace e-commerce effort, natively and seamlessly within their own platform — that there is at least one step in the process they haven’t built for their customers. So they offer a plug-in (or 5 plug-ins) to “plug” all the holes in their offering.The problem with this is two-fold. First, it creates another step for your team. They’ll have to manage at least two solutions, instead of one. And second, it means that you will have to figure out which solution for this step (shipping automation, in our example here) is the best for you. And if you choose incorrectly, it could undermine the rest of your selling infrastructure. A bad shipping solution can slow down your operation, increase costs and maybe even cost you customers. We’ve all heard the phrase that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Unfortunately, if you are stringing together 4 different eCommerce solutions, one for shipping another for inventory management, still a third for re-pricing, etc. then your eCommerce operations are only as strong as your weakest solution.What all of this means, in our view, is that when you seek out a solution for e-commerce inventory management — especially if you are selling across multiple online marketplaces — you should look for one seamless solution that handles it all.