If you sell on the internet in marketplace platforms or in your own online stores, the optimization of work procedures is crucial for the success of your business. With so many tasks to manage, from stocks and deliveries, to managing orders and customer relations, it can be difficult to find time to grow your business.
Our experience from 2016 with clients has put us through many challenges, from where we have drawn conclusions regarding which best practices you must follow in order to have an operationally optimized business in digital commerce. In addition to the standard work procedures developed in the FamShop platform, we also helped companies that needed to automate customized flows, so that they could take full advantage of the FamShop online commerce automation platform. We have collaborated and are currently openly collaborating with online merchants to develop their sales power and efficient operation of work procedures. After many cases encountered in the worldwide e-commerce, where we convinced even a multinational from United States of America to adopt the FamShop solution, we designed a valid guide for any company that sells products or services in online stores or marketplaces.
First of all, it must be established that an e-commerce needs at least one sales channel (the sales channel is also called the sales source) represented by either an online store or a marketplace. An online store can be developed on a custom platform (developed in-house or by third parties) or on an already developed and stable platform such as Magento, Magento2, Prestashop, WooCommerce, Opencart, Shopify, osCommerce, CS Cart, BigCommerce, MerchantPro, Wix and the list can go on. Examples of marketplaces are: Amazon, eBay, eMAG, Miinto, Walmart, Fnac, Allegro, ePRICE, Bol, Spartoo, otto, ASOS, Real, Okazii, Decathlon, Cel.ro, Elefant, Altex. Almost all these platforms have a communication point with third-party applications (API) and work procedures can be automated effectively. A work procedure that can be automated is the creation of the invoice for each order placed in the online sales channels.
The second important component for any business is accounting and inventory management software (if we are talking about physical products). If we are talking about digital products or services, then stock inventory are not the subject of the discussion. Every sale from online stores and marketplaces must be registered in accounting to meet the criteria imposed by the legislation in force. To make accounting more efficient, it is recommended to use an accounting software. This management and accounting program must be chosen by you (or the accountant) with care and we recommend that you discuss with each provider of such solutions. Thus, you confirm that through their software you will solve as many problems as possible and you will maximize the efficiency in relation to how much you pay for the solution. In some cases, a simple management and accounting program is not enough because it solves few problems and it is necessary to switch to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution. This program includes a list of functionalities in addition to a management and accounting program. An ERP optimizes complex processes of organizing a company, processes that you must know and discuss with each individual ERP supplier so that you can make the best decision in purchasing an ERP software. Whether we are talking about a simple accounting program or an ERP software, you need this component in your business. At this moment, every accountant works with at least one software program of this kind, it being almost impossible to keep accounting with only pen and paper. Examples of management and accounting software programs, including ERPs, are: Netsuite, Syspro, SAP, Scoro, Sage, Brightpearl, Odoo, Ecount, Peoplesoft, FinancialForce, Infor, Deltek, ePromis, Epicor, Batchmaster, SupraReal, Abas, Teclib, Sequoiasoft, Praxedo, Axelor, ZendeskSell, Stafiz, KechieERP, Deskera, Dolibarr, Epesi, Softone, MicroErp, Selmatic, MicroInvest, Zeron, Colibri, SISTechnology, PharmaStar, Deep, Clip, enova365. From the customers' experience, the most difficult thing is to change the ERP management and accounting software because there is a lot of information that cannot be automatically transferred between them, but it is not an impossible process. Some management and accounting software do not have a communication point with third-party applications (API) and make it difficult to automate work procedures. If there is no API, it is recommended to change the program. In case the change cannot take place, it is carefully analyzed which procedures can be improved, even if manual work is also involved. Manual work is a compromise that must be made if you want to maintain a software without an API.
The delivery process is an important part in the e-commerce chain because many customers associate delivery services with the seller. You have to carefully choose a serious partner in the courier area because experience with deliveries affects sales. You can partner directly with courier companies but also with courier aggregators. Both couriers and courier aggregators offer APIs, which makes it easy to automate the creation and tracking of AWBs.
The stocks you sell are divided into two categories:
1. own stocks (in own warehouse or in the custody of other warehouses (fulfillment))
2. stocks in the supplier's warehouse
Each individual case involves the work of operating stocks. In all cases, you must mark any stock movement in accounting and this is where the ERP management and accounting software comes to your rescue. If you collaborate with a fulfillment company, they can also offer you management and accounting services. You must have a very clear picture of what types of stocks you want to sell. Most accounting software have APIs, especially those used by fulfillment, making it possible to automatically synchronize stocks with sales channels.
Each of these key points in particular is extremely important in the development of the e-commerce activity and therefore, our recommendation is to discuss with each service provider separately and compare advantages, disadvantages and related costs. Establishing all these previously mentioned partners, they can be interconnected through the various integrations available on the market: either through plugins or through e-commerce automation platforms such as FamShop. The digital commerce automation platform is dedicated to the efficiency of work procedures and is clearly superior to plugins because it has the updated connection for each online store platform, marketplace, ERP management and accounting system and courier. In addition, the automation platform has many customized flows, some integrations being exclusively specific to a certain type of client.
As a good practice, we recommend at least automating the following repetitive workflows:
1. Synchronization of orders from sales channels in the ERP accounting program
2. Synchronization of stocks from the ERP management program to the sales channels
3. Generation of AWBs
4. Synchronization of sales prices from the ERP management program to sales channels
Try as much as possible to choose platforms and software programs that cover your needs and automate as many work procedures as possible. It is also important that each platform provides API connection. It is possible to reach an extremely high online commerce efficiency after a correct implementation. Think in perspective and prepare at least 3 months before making major changes (for example changing the ERP program).