Reshaping the way your business works, such as moving your business online, can seem like a monumental endeavor. How do you get started? What kind of technology do you need? Acumatica is an eCommerce (and omnichannel!) ERP that provides a robust back-office system that is fully integrated with your business’ digital storefront. Embracing the capabilities of a good ERP can help reduce the stress that total transformation of your business usually brings.
Here’s a list of five critical steps necessary to successfully migrate your business to the digital market:
Step 1. Planning the Look & Feel of Your Online Store
Before you get started, you’re going to need a short, easy-to-remember domain name that people can easily associate to your brand. Ideally, you want an intuitive domain name that potential clients can induce by just knowing the name of your business (e.g. www.your-business-name.com).
Now you need to design how your site will look and feel. This includes visual elements like color scheme, graphics, and relevant photographs. It also means the site must be easy to navigate with a clear click-path to your company’s catalog. At this point you should design the layout of the pages in your site, such as the home page, how products are displayed to the user, and any secondary pages.
Review all the items in your catalog to ensure item names and descriptions are free of typos, prices are correct, and the right photos are associated with the proper products.
Once your catalog has been reviewed, plan out how you’re going to process orders and calculate any shipping and packaging costs required for fulfillment.
Step 2. Setting Up Your Online Store
After you’ve determined the look and feel of your website, the next step is to set up the actual site! There’s a wide selection of commerce platforms you can choose from to run your online store. Do the research and select one that’s right for your type of business.
Your website will need an SSL certificate for security. Security is an aspect of digital businesses that can often go forgotten by business owners migrating to the online market for the first time. Don’t make the mistake of not securing your website before going live and potentially putting your business (and your clients) at risk.
Set up a payment gateway (like PayPal) to enable credit card acceptance. You won’t get much business if nobody can buy your product! You also need to ensure your fulfillment provider is prepared to receive online orders.
Set up business e-mails for your staff and support groups (for example, [email protected]). Now that you’ve got a business domain name, you should ensure your employees all have e-mail addresses associated with your business. If possible, avoid using public e-mail providers like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail for anything business-related.
Now it’s time to integrate your online store with your accounting system. Once this is complete, your business can accept and process orders! But we’re not done yet.
Time to load your catalog of products into your web store. Take this opportunity to review product information for errors. Are the prices updated? Are the pictures relevant? Is the user able to search for this item?
Step 3. Going Live!
So now your business is ready to start processing and fulfilling orders online. Don’t launch just yet! You can make a bigger splash if you turn the launch into an event. Select an official date to go live and tell your key customers about it. You should keep a close eye on user activity, paying attention to whether orders are being processed properly by the accounting and fulfillment systems. Triple check that customer info, item selection, delivery dates, and prices are being accurately communicated between the different systems.
Time to start your marketing campaign! Get on social media and generate some buzz around your business and online storefront. Consider joining a popular online marketplace like eBay or Amazon to expose your products and brand to a larger audience.
Step 4. Use ERP to Optimize your Site
ERP software like Acumatica allows for real-time synchronization between your online store and the fulfillment and accounting systems in your backend. You can keep track of inventory availability in real-time and set up automated replenishment through your ERP. Simplify order management and suppress costs by applying ERP-aided improvement techniques to your business processes. Acumatica also offers guaranteed credit card processing that is PCI DSS-compliant. Take advantage of the real-time data and automation possible with ERP to improve efficiency in the warehouse and supply chain.
Step 5. Enhance the Customer Experience
Now it’s time to start fine-tuning the site to customer activity. Monitor how users are using the site and make it easier for them to find the products that they want. For example, give them the option to filter items by color, size, and price. Provide a list of suggested items based on the items they’ve shown interest in. Your goal at this point is to use any data you can get to streamline the entire shopping process. The goal is to make it easier for customers to find and buy the products they want to spend money on.
The analytics in ERP can be used to keep track of business-critical data across all operations in real-time. Take advantage of this data to improve the customer experience. Facilitate returns and item replacement or offer store credit that can be used online or in-store. Offer customer self-service options and order tracking.
Migrating your brick-and-mortar business to the digital market doesn’t have to be stressful work. Hopefully these five steps have given you the confidence to take the first steps to transforming your business and reaping the benefits of eCommerce. With the help of a robust ERP system like Acumatica, integrating the front and backends of your business has never been easier. You can monitor business-critical data in real-time to make accurate and swift decisions that can cut costs and improve the user experience.
Here’s an Acumatica success story. Ray Allen Manufacturing uses Acumatica Commerce Edition, which comes packaged with Kensium Magento Connector, to support management of their military and police canine equipment business. Their customer service has improved and their business operations have been streamlined with the help of Acumatica’s integrated ERP capabilities.