Roadmap to eCommerce Success
The Rise of eCommerce in Canada and Worldwide
What was already a steady growth in the retail eCommerce industry was compounded by the global pandemic. When people from around the world became restricted to carrying on with life from home, online spending grew by over 72% in Canada, totalling $28.6 billion USD. In a 2020 report published by Group M, the forecast for eCommerce in 2021 is a sharp incline, with online spending projected to be $39.3 billion USD. According to Colliers research, online sales make up 18% of retail sales worldwide, and this number is expected to increase to 21.8% by 2024.
Even as the effects of the pandemic subside in many regions, interestingly, the growth of online shopping continues to increase. This is because consumers, including older generations, have grown accustomed to making purchases online, and enjoying quicker delivery, larger selections, and the greater overall convenience.
Including an eCommerce channel can boost revenue, but implementing a holistic eCommerce channel improves customer satisfaction, and therefore increases repeat purchases and brand advocacy. What consists of a holistic eCommerce channel and how can you start your retail company on the right foot for digital expansion? Below, we’ve outlined important considerations for building and scaling your eCommerce business into success.
Download the in-depth whitepaper, Roadmap to eCommerce Success, to read more on how to optimize your eCommerce channel.
Discover Your eCommerce Needs
To begin your discovery process, you want to figure out what kind of seller your business currently is and what you may want to expand into in the future. Some primary considerations include the number of products (SKUs), customization of products, varying pricing structures based on volume, and languages and currencies. This will determine the complexity required of your eCommerce software.
One of the biggest growing pains for retailers offering multiple channels is inventory management and order fulfillment. Consider how many warehouses you will be managing and what inventory you will be offering for delivery through eCommerce. Ask yourself what delivery speed and returns process you will promise customers. Understanding the structure of your inventory and fulfillment process will help you design an ERP solution that automates and accelerates your warehousing.
While all eCommerce platforms will offer the same basic functionality, the need for some significant features depends on if your business sells business-to-customer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). Popular features that B2Cs need include discounts and coupons, user reviews, and loyalty programs. On the other side, B2Bs need features such as customer-specific pricing, multiple payment options, and credit checking.
Choosing an eCommerce Solution
There are two main options for selling products online: marketplaces and eCommerce platforms. While both will accomplish the same mission of getting your products to consumers, there are several significant differences, pros, and cons to consider.
Marketplaces include Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Overstock, and many others. Marketplaces are a popularized website that bring together many different products being sold by different brands. They are an easy space for vendors to get their products viewed by the mass market, with payment options, delivery, and website design all completed already, requiring little to no setup costs from you. That being said, marketplaces will cut into profit margins and limit seller control. A significant consideration is that marketplaces greatly hamper branding, as your products are being sorted together side-by-side with competitor products.
For small- and mid-size retail businesses that are looking to create and optimize an eCommerce channel to meet the increasing demands of digital shopping for the long-term, self-managed (open-source) or hosted (SaaS) eCommerce platforms are a better choice. Self-managed and open-source platforms such as Magento and PrestaShop allow you to make pretty significant customizations to your solution to match your workflow needs. Hosted platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce are turnkey platforms that allow businesses to simply input their products and branding into the platform. Of course, with these monthly subscription SaaS models, customizations are more limited.
Finding an Interconnected ERP Solution for eCommerce Success
An advanced ERP solution designed for retail and eCommerce management can take your business operations to the next level, through process automations, insightful reporting, data analytics, and business intelligence. Additionally, your ERP solution should connect seamlessly with your inventory and warehouse management, as well as your accounting and finance system.
With the addition of an eCommerce channel, you want to ensure your ERP solution pulls together everything with real-time accuracy. An ERP that is integrated with your website allows managers to look at real-time reporting and make product and pricing updates directly through the ERP. Orders received through the eCommerce platform can be automatically processed in your inventory and fulfillment system, and all sales details can be immediately sent to your financial management solution.
One of the most difficult challenges of balancing retail and ecommerce is ensuring an accurate inventory is reflected on your site at all times. A modern ERP ensures that item availability on your site always matches your true inventory, helping avoid unfulfillable orders.
“Being able to access data and have the various departments working together in one system is a real benefit. If the warehouse has low inventory for an item, it is immediately exposed to purchasing to place the order for more. We now have real-time visibility to pertinent data.” Ben Rothe, General Manager & CEO, Premier 1 Supplies
Every ERP solution will have attractive features, but when it comes to eCommerce success, you want to discover an interconnected and future-proofed ERP that is easily scalable.