Are you using more than one software platform to manage the back-office activities associated with your online business? If so, there’s a better way.
If your shopping cart isn’t integrated with inventory management software, then you’re virtually in the dark about customer data (e.g., inventory, order status, sales information, etc.).
Customer data is the lifeblood of a small business — when leveraged correctly it informs marketing strategy, sales goals and more.
The Basics: Your shopping cart software acts as an online store catalog and fulfills the ordering process. Typically, a shopping cart is the interface between your company website and the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that lets customers select, review, modify and purchase goods and services.
While stand alone software can help you manage inventory and process orders, it is an incomplete solution when it comes to managing the logistics of an online store. This is where an integrated shopping cart comes into play – allowing you to manage the end-to-end fulfillment of a sale through one platform.
Integrated Shopping Cart Essentials
Why is an integrated shopping cart vital for the overall management of your online store? Your online store should be set up in a way that’s easy for you to navigate and operate. You shouldn’t have to hassle with configuring and managing back-end e-commerce operations and juggle multiple types of software (i.e., inventory, invoicing, shipping, etc.).
“Overall the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can’t afford to be.” – Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator
Benefits of Integrated Shopping Carts
Here’s a look at three key benefits of using an integrated shopping cart to manage your online store:
Real-time data storage.
With an integrated shopping cart, all of the data you need is in one place instead of being scattered throughout different software packages. This improves workflow by allowing you to look up data easily if you run into an inventory or shipping issue. Meanwhile, a customer’s cart can be updated with real-time tracking information once orders are placed. One of the greatest advantages of having organized data and updated transaction information is a reduction in operating costs.
Inventory control and access.
Order fulfillment software allows businesses to stay in full control of order processing and inventory. Once you set up an integrated shopping cart, uncertainty with inventory, orders and shipping is eliminated because it’s combined and available to you in real-time. This means easier and faster access for you, your team and customers.
Decreased human error.
There’s a lot more risk involved when you rely on someone to manually input and retrieve data. By having an integrated shopping cart (i.e., merging your website with order fulfillment software), there’s no room for human error because data is centralized, recorded and updated. Unlike an employee that’s prone to make mistakes, order fulfillment software is reliable because it automates the order process and prevents data re-entry problems from rising to the surface.
If you’re trying to figure out if an integrated shopping cart is right for your business, first analyze online order volume. Small order volumes can be handled manually, but as your company grows and scales the process of re-entering data manually in different areas will slow you down. This is when you’ll need an integrated shopping cart solution to do the heavy lifting for you.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kara Spadone is an SEO copywriter and editor for J.M. Field Marketing, a full service marketing firm specializing in order fulfillment, e-commerce solutions, web & graphic design, direct marketing, printing services, video production and promotional products. She’s an experienced, passionate writer that develops content about SEO, social media, digital marketing, business and technology. Connect with @jmfmarketing on Twitter.