An eCommerce store is more than just a website. It is a system consisting of various components that work in harmony to provide various functionalities and enhance the user experience of your online store. On the storefront are all the visual elements and the user interface that the customer directly interacts with. But they do not work on their own. A multitude of complex back-end processes needs to work hand-in-hand with the front-end to provide the smooth user experience that customers expect from the online store.
These may include search filters, shopping carts, payment gateways, order tracking, etc. All these functions are carried out by eCommerce integrations. Some of the integrations are provided by the eCommerce platforms themselves. But for all other enhanced functionality, you need third-party integrations.
What are third-party integrations?
Third-party Integrations are apps that can be directly installed in your eCommerce store as plugins. Once installed, they act as integral parts of the site, working in synergy with the other components of the site to process data entered by the customers and bring results.
How does third-party integration help achieve eCommerce automation?
Many of these third-party integrations are eCommerce automation tools that work without the need for human intervention. They use state-of-the-art technology to work in the back-end to:
Where can you find these third-party integrations?
You can search, find and install these third-party integrations in your eCommerce platform store itself. You can also hire the services of an agency partner to install these apps and iron out the issues with the help of the experts.
Select your third-party integrations before you unveil your eCommerce store
Without third-party integrations, an eCommerce store is merely a bare-bone storefront. It lacks key functionality and features that give customers a pleasant user experience. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully choose third-party integrations that suit your requirements and integrate them properly before you commence your operations. Following are some of the types of integrations available.
1. Payment Integrations
Payment gateway is probably the most important tool for any eCommerce site. Without a wide variety of digital payment options that ensure secure transactions, you cannot achieve the desired conversion rate. Some of the popular payment gateways include:
2.Shipping and Order Tracking Integrations
Shipping issues are a major concern in eCommerce business. A study by eMarketer reveals that fast shipping speed and easy delivery accounted for 62% and 54% of the positive customer experience respectively. A shipping integration that is flexible enough to customize different options including shipping rates and speed, and capable of automatically generating shipping labels, tracking details, and notifications, enriches user experience. Some of the popular shipping and tracking integrations include:
3. Analytics and Reporting Integrations
eCommerce provides you with the opportunity for data-driven growth. Understanding customers’ profiles, preferences, shopping habits, etc., based on the data captured on the site plays a significant role in the growth of your business. In order to capitalize on it, you need to find the right eCommerce automation solutions that enable you to measure various metrics relevant to your business and get detailed insights. With a clear picture of what is happening and what needs to be done, you can move forward with a sense of purpose and achieve consistent growth.
Some of the most successful analytics integrations include:
4. Accounting and Financial Integrations
Maintaining the records and documents with regard to sales, purchase, invoicing, budgeting, tax, payroll, etc., requires a dedicated accounting team. It is both expensive, especially for a small business, and is relatively less reliable due to human errors. Installing a versatile and comprehensive eCommerce automation tool, like the following, for maintaining accounting and finance goes a long way in preventing you from incurring unnecessary expenses, and in achieving accuracy, speed and efficiency.
5. Inventory integrations
As things get sold in an online store, the number of items displayed on the site and the ones in stock must match in real-time. Otherwise, customers may order products that went out of stock without realizing. This causes poor user experience and massive damage to the business. There are eCommerce automation tools in the market that manage all aspects of inventory management – from generating purchase/sales orders and invoices, real-time tracking and availability, all the way to proactive forecasting of product demand based on historical data. Following are some of those tools.
6. Customer support integrations
eCommerce stores demand constant interaction with customers for one thing or another, be it order, payment or delivery issues or procedures with regard to returning an order. Providing prompt support is crucial for customer satisfaction and retaining their trust. Third-party integrations such as live chat, help desk, token-based support tools or eCommerce automation such as chatbots help you provide instant response to customer queries and enhance the user experience. Following are some of the most popular customer support integrations.
7. Email and marketing automation integrations
Standing still in the rapidly changing market conditions can be harmful to an eCommerce business. Reaching out to a list of customers with personalized offers and deals at the right time improves conversion rates significantly. It requires understanding customer preferences and things they need, based on data such as their previous purchases and the product segments they show interest in. Powerful eCommerce automation tools, like the ones mentioned below, help you achieve all this by pulling data from the site automatically and executing targeted marketing campaigns with minimal or no human intervention.
8. CRM integration
When you run an eCommerce business, managing and strengthening customer relationships is indispensable. CRM integrations help you obtain comprehensive data with regard to customer interactions with the site, their problems, and the kind of support they have sought. It captures customer sentiment, provides you with analytics that help you offer more personalized services and improve customer satisfaction. Following are some of the most popular CRM integrations.
In addition to these key third-party integrations, there are many other types of integrations that address specific areas of focus, such as SEO, Product Rating, Site Search, Social media engagement, etc. You can select the integrations that you may need and enrich your site with added functionality and better user experience.
The rise of eCommerce has given enormous opportunities for businesses to reach out and serve more customers from different demographies and geographical locations. But an eCommerce store is nothing more than a website with product displays, unless the listed items are marketed and promoted to a target audience.
As the eCommerce space becomes crowded and the customers are spoilt for choice, the need to provide extra information, tips or anything that will help the customers make better decisions becomes an integral part of the marketing strategy. Reaching out to them through digital ads and social media handles is not enough these days and providing random information, images and videos that are irrelevant to the customers do not help in any way to grab their attention. There is a need for careful planning and implementation to make content engaging for the target audience. This is where a successful content marketing strategy for eCommerce comes in.
What is content marketing for eCommerce?
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of useful and relevant content customized for specific target audiences. Content can be textual in the form of articles or visual in nature – images, infographics, videos, etc. The purpose of content marketing for eCommerce may be to:
Content marketing for eCommerce involves:
When the target audience find the information they need, and they click the link and reach your eCommerce site. This brings organic traffic and improves your prospect of finding new customers and leads and increasing sales.
Questions to ask while formulating an effective content marketing strategy for eCommerce
The process of formulating a successful content marketing strategy for eCommerce involves answering a few questions.
1. Who is your target audience
The foremost step in content marketing for eCommerce is choosing your target audience, identifying their pain points and finding the means to solving their problems. In a digital world, it is possible to pinpoint a specific group of people as target audience from a particular age, gender, demography, geographical location, etc. The pain points of every group of people may be different, and each of those groups is looking for a specific kind of content to solve their own unique problems. Creating an ideal content marketing strategy involves selecting the target audience first and customizing the content accordingly.
2. What are your objectives of the content marketing exercise?
Content marketing for eCommerce can be done for various purposes. For instance, it can be designed to promote a particular product or hype the launch of a new product. In such cases, the content should be focused on a specific product, its use case, benefits and the problems it solves. However, if the objective of the content marketing exercise is to improve brand visibility or search engine ranking, the strategy and the content that needs to be created would be entirely different. So, choosing the right objective of your content marketing exercise is crucial to getting your strategy right.
3. What is the means to reach your target audience?
Different groups of people may look for solutions for their problems in different spaces. For instance, teenagers and younger generation prefer short-duration content on platforms like Snapchat or Tiktok. In contrast, relatively older people may find that information in longer and more elaborate text content on blogs or Facebook or longer duration videos on YouTube. So, depending on who your audience is, it is essential to reach out to them at their preferred online platforms with the kind of content they want.
4. How do you want to schedule your content calendar
Depending on the target audience and the objectives of content marketing for eCommerce, you can choose different categories of content on various topics and areas of focus, and make a schedule as to when you want to post/disseminate them. It is vital to keep posting relevant content from each content category periodically to keep the audience engaged. However, the priority should be on the quality of the content rather than the quantity.
Creating a dedicated calendar helps to stick to the schedule and deliver content to the audience at the right time without fail. Content calendar also helps to identify opportunities to connect with the target audience on holidays and important days with relevant content.
5. What are the kinds of content do you want to publish?
You can choose a variety of mediums to post your content. If your target audience likes to read text heavy content, you can post blog posts and articles to drive traffic to your site. Similarly, an assortment of content can be delivered in coordination through email marketing, social media posts, podcasts, video sharing platforms, customer stories, etc.
6. What kind of background work do you need to carry out before creating the content?
Doing a thorough research with regard to the topics covered in the content is key to creating quality content. Similarly, different kinds of content require different kinds of research. For example, if you are trying to improve your ranking in search results, analysis of keyword gaps, SEO competitiveness, etc., are prerequisite to meet the objective. Similarly, creating videos may require a written script based on a thoroughly researched topic. Content marketing for eCommerce requires you to closely watch and research on what the successful competitors are doing and adapting your content marketing strategy for e-commerce accordingly.
7. How would you track and measure the effectiveness of the content marketing strategy for eCommerce?
Content marketing for eCommerce is a continuous process. Only if you have a proper tracking and measuring mechanisms, you can determine how successful your marketing strategy for eCommerce is and tweak and fine-tune the strategy on an ongoing basis. There are various analytical tools available in order to track the impact of every content you post. These tools give you comprehensive insights on the performance of your content in relation to your objectives.
The measuring and tracking mechanisms and the parameters you need to track vary vastly depending on your content marketing strategy. For example, if your objective is to increase search engine ranking and generate more leads by driving traffic to your site, then you need tools that measure parameters such as number of leads you have generated, increase in traffic, conversion, user engagement, search engine ranking, etc.
The effectiveness of blog posts can be measured by tracking website traffic, time spent by the visitors in that specific page, etc. Email marketing campaigns are deemed successful when their open rate, conversion rate and click-through rates are high. Similarly, success on social media is measured in terms of number of followers, reach, positive comments and reacts, user engagement levels to the posts, etc. Videos and podcasts are considered successful based on the number of subscribers, viewers/listeners, shares, average viewing/listening duration, etc.
By measuring and tracking the performance of your content, you can constantly improve your content and increase user engagement. You can also update the old content to include more recent information and make it more relevant to the target audience.
With the advent of e-commerce and shopping on mobile, the buying habits of an average person, especially from the younger generation, has evolved a lot. E-commerce has constantly kept up with expectations of the customers, adding features and functionality that appeal to them and persuade them to make a purchase online. But one of the most important components of e-commerce that did not catch up with the fast-paced developments was the payment. Credit card has remained the most preferred mode of payment for quite a long time; even with the emergence of new digital payment and wallet options, credit card payments have been the most popular mode of payment. But there are certain inconveniences in using credit cards for online purchase, such as:
Due to these factors, shopping cart abandonment at payment gateway is not so uncommon. So, changing times and the rise in need for a better payment option paved way for BNPL.
What is BNPL?
BNPL stands for Buy Now Pay Later. As the name suggests, BNPL is a financing option that enables the customers to make a high value purchase instantly without having to pay a high upfront cost, by breaking down the payment into multiple installments. It eliminates hidden costs, fees and high rate of interest, as long as the customer meets the payment deadlines. As a result, Buy Now Pay Later is gradually gaining traction as a flexible payment option that does not burden the customers with increased debt load.
How does Buy Now Pay Later work?
The buy now and pay later options offered by service providers who partner with the e-commerce businesses are integrated in the checkout process of the e-commerce sites. While availing this option:
Advantages of selecting Buy Now Pay Later payment option for customers
1. A modern payment solution for today’s needs
The younger generation get a modern payment option that suits their lifestyle and offers great benefits over traditional payment options. Buy Now Pay Later option simplifies payment, streamlines the shopping process and makes purchasing things easier by enabling instant approval and smooth checkout. A soft cheque is enough for the customer to get an instant approval.
2. An easy, convenient and flexible payment option
BNPL allows the customers to conveniently order products in advance during holiday season without having to wait for enough cash to make large purchases. It lets customers to split the payment into equally spaced installments and makes purchasing high-value items easy. The customers can now choose a flexible payment option without having to pay additional costs and hidden fees.
3. Buy Now Pay Later is more cost efficient
By avoiding high rates of interest, additional fees and hidden costs, the overall price paid by the customers comes down. As a result, this payment method is more affordable and cost efficient.
Advantages of Buy Now Pay Later services for e-commerce businesses
1. Buy Now Pay Later increases average order value
Since the customers can pay in installments over a long period of time, they can make purchases of value that day otherwise could not. As a result, the average order value of the business increases, making a positive impact on profitability.
2. Buy Now Pay Later helps increase sales
Buy Now Pay Later offers flexibility and convenience for customers. Since they can pay later in installments, customers do not have to think twice before purchasing expensive products. With less amount to spend upfront on purchases, customers are also comfortable with buying more from the e-commerce business. These factors play an important role in increasing sales.
3. Buy Now Pay Later increases sales conversion
Abandoned carts or a major problem in e-commerce. It mostly occurs due to the customers changing their mind during checkout or being indecisive about making purchases due to the complexities in payment options, such as hidden costs and additional fees. By eliminating all these, Buy Now Pay Later reduces the instances of abandoned carts and improves sales conversion.
4. One more payment option keeps competition at bay
Integrating different payment options is key to business success, as the customers expect e-commerce businesses to offer them multiple choices for payment. Buy now pay later is quite distinct compare to traditional payment options such as credit card, and the number of customers who make a purchase only because an ecoomerce site has BNPL option is increasing significantly. Integrating BNPL gives a compelling reason for customers to buy from your e-commerce site instead of going to your competitors. As a result, you can retain your customers, fight the competition better and maintain your advantage and market position.
5. Buy Now Pay Later brings in new customers
Buy Now Pay Later is a highly preferred payment method of the younger generation. As they actively seek this payment option, if you have BNPL, you have a higher chance of winning over those customers compared to a competitor who does not offer that option.
6. Buy Now Pay Later adds value
By integrating a customer friendly payment option, you can earn the trust of the customers and convert the customer loyalty into repeated purchases.
Buy Now Pay Later: Facts and figures
71% of consumers say that they have been making more online purchases during the pandemic.
30% of all the payments for digital shopping were made with credit cards.
55% of online shoppers abandon cart due to hidden extra costs.
Interest rates on US credit cards rose beyond 17% in 2019.
55.8% of consumers have used BNPL service, up from 37.65% in July of 2020 — an increase of almost 50% in less than one year.
61.16% of customers between the age of 18 and 24 had used Buy Now and Pay Later option by March 2021.
41% say they have used BNPL service during the pandemic to conserve cash in case of an emergency, while 25% say it’s because they lost income.
It is expected that there will be 1.5 billion BNPL users worldwide in 2026.
48% of customers said that BNPL solutions allow them to spend 10% to 20% more than they would by their credit card.
30% of BNPL users would not have made purchases without financing options.
62% of buy now, pay later users think it could replace their credit cards.
BNPL service providers
There are many players in the market who offer Buy Now Pay Later services to e-commerce businesses. Some of the most popular service providers are:
What constitutes a successful ecommerce business? A good range of products to put on sale, keeping adequate stock of those products, right pricing, a great platform to display and promote the products on, and finally, a successful marketing strategy – all that contribute to the success of a ecommerce business.
But it can be expensive to buy products in great numbers, store them in a warehouse and fulfil orders. If those expenses are exactly the ones stopping you from starting a successful ecommerce business, then dropshipping is for you.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model that eliminates the need for purchasing and keeping stock of the products you want to sell. It does not necessitate you to handle the products at any point of time.
Manufacturers/suppliers take care of managing the inventory, fulfilling the order and shipping the product directly to the customer, while the ecommerce business merely focuses on marketing the products and finding new customers.
How does dropshipping work and how can you start a dropshipping business?
Following are the steps to start and run a successful dropshipping business.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model that eliminates the need for purchasing and keeping stock of the products you want to sell. It does not necessitate you to handle the products at any point of time.
Manufacturers/suppliers take care of managing the inventory, fulfilling the order and shipping the product directly to the customer, while the ecommerce business merely focuses on marketing the products and finding new customers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of dropshipping?
As with any business model, there are both advantages and disadvantages in dropshipping.
1. You can start right away
Unlike conventional businesses, you can start a dropshipping business quickly without planning and pooling resources. You do not have to:
2. It is not capital-intensive
Traditional businesses spend so much resources in establishing and setting up their operations. When the expensive components of the business, namely office space, warehouse, purchasing products, inventory management and shipping, are taken out of the equation, an ecommerce business just needs investment in a good website for online storefront.
3. You can focus on your strengths
Dropshipping frees you from the responsibilities of a typical retail business and lets you focus solely on your marketing efforts and communication with supplier/manufacturer. This helps you achieve more without any distractions.
4. It is easy and inexpensive to manage
Unlike a traditional business, the running costs of a dropshipping business is low, as you do not have to purchase and stock products at any point of time. It is also easy to manage, as the critical operations of inventory management and shipping are outsourced to the manufacturers/suppliers
5. Expand with ease
Scaling in dropshipping merely means finding a new supplier or listing new products in the ecommerce site. It is possible to scale up in dropshipping without additional effort or investment
6. You can sell anything from anywhere, at any time
Dropshipping makes it possible to operate without any physical office, as you can manage the ecommerce store from anywhere, at a convenient time, and sell anything that is allowed.
7. You can afford to try and fail
In dropshipping, you can always afford to test the waters and see whether your target customers like a particular product or not. If customers do not show interest, you can quickly retract a product from sale without suffering losses.
1. Margins are tight
When you outsource the critical operations of a business to the manufacturer/supplier, the profit margins in each of those operations are steadily chipped away, and you get much less in return. Also, there will be a lot of competition. In order to be successful, it is vital to choose products that have high demand and less competition in the market at the same time.
2. You do not have much say
Since the products are made, stored and shipped by a manufacturer/supplier, you do not have much control over inventory management or shipping. For instance, if you speculate a rise in demand, the manufacturer/supplier may not necessarily stock products based on your estimates.
3. Order management is a challenge
Managing an order with products sourced from different manufacturers/suppliers, coordinating with them and getting them all to ship the products to a customer on time without any issues is challenging. Separate shipping costs can also add up. You can keep a small amount of select products in stock as a buffer to equalize demand and product availability.
4. Resolving issues can be difficult
If there is a problem with the product quality or shipping, or if the customer wants to return the product and get a refund, it is left in the hands of the manufacturer/supplier to manage and resolve issues smoothly. Mismanagement can lead to loss of trust for reasons that are beyond your control. So, it is essential to find a highly reliable supplier/manufacturer.
Platforms that support dropshipping
Dropshipping features can be seamlessly integrated with ecommerce stores through plugins offered by the platforms. These plugins help you directly import product listings created by a manufacturer/supplier in popular B2B classifieds sites. Features related to inventory updates, order tracking, price mark-up, etc., can also be added. Following are some of the Ecommerce platforms that provide good dropshipping support
Benefits of BigCommerce dropshipping
BigCommerce is a trusted ecommerce platform with more than 150,000 stores built on it. It provides comprehensive set of plugins for integrating dropshipping capabilities.
In a world where smartphones are indispensable, most of the business communication happens online through mobile devices. Websites have dedicated chat boxes these days for instant interaction with customers. Businesses have even started integrating AI to provide a suitable responses to customer queries without human intervention.
Why is WhatsApp for ecommerce good for businesses and customers?
Whatsapp is one of the most popular personal messaging apps available today. With more than a billion users, Whatsapp continues to become more and more significant in our daily lives. So, it makes sense for both users as well as businesses to have all business-related communication inside WhatsApp. Having a proven, feature-rich chat interface improves customer engagement and helps them keep track of conversations. It also enhances the ability of businesses to interact with customers in ways it is otherwise impossible.
How can WhatsApp for ecommerce help businesses serve customers better?
Whatsapp for ecommerce enhances the shopping experience for the customers and enables companies to serve customers better in the following ways.
1. Improved engagement and user experience
Whatsapp for ecommerce brings a unified interface for all interactions. So, customers don’t have to go to a website and type emails or chat with customer care. They can chat from WhatsApp itself. It makes interactions convenient and far more engaging. Whatsapp for ecommerce enhances business communication through ways that were previously limited. For instance, it is possible for customers to send images of the product they have purchased and clarify their doubts with regard to how to use a product feature. The ecommerce business can share a product demonstration video and help customers know the product better. This improves customer relationship and makes the brand endearing to the customer.
2. Easily searchable communication history
Writing to a business and later finding the interaction in the inbox for reference is a challenge that most customers face. Whatsapp chat interface enables customers to find specific chats quickly with ease. The entire history of every interaction with the business can also be viewed hassle-free at any time. It helps customers organize chats better and keep track of all interactions with ease.
3. An effective replacement of complicated mailing lists
Email marketing and mailing lists are indispensable for ecommerce businesses. WhatsApp marketing for ecommerce enables businesses to market products in ways similar to email marketing. Lead generation can be done by adding a click-to-chat link that redirects customers to a WhatsApp chat window to immediately start a conversation; then the contacts can be captured for marketing purposes using a chatbot. With all the contacts, businesses can use groups and broadcast features to constantly push offers, updates and notifications to the list of customers. As customers are more likely to read shorter chat messages than lengthy emails, Whatsapp helps businesses engage with customers much more effectively.
4. Enhanced privacy
Whatsapp for ecommerce has improved privacy features. All the conversations are now end-to-end encrypted. This ensures peace of mind for customers compared to other channels of online communication available for customers, such as the contact form on the website that could be relatively less secure.
5. Comprehensive order management
With integrated digital payment and integration with CRM and Order Management systems, WhatsApp provides new opportunities for businesses beyond just communication with customers. Whatsapp chatbot for ecommerce empowers businesses with deep integration to create a single-window experience. Customers can place orders from the phone as a result and pay for them, receive update notifications regarding the orders and shipment, cancel orders and get a refund or replacement, all using WhatsApp for ecommerce. The delivery experience of products can also be improved when customers can share the precise location and add specific delivery related messages, such as directing the business to deliver the product at a neighbor’s doorsteps in the event of the customer’s absence.
6. Personalized offers and services
Whatsapp for ecommerce enables businesses to stay in touch with customers constantly, answer their queries and understand customer preferences better through surveys and feedback, and improve their products and services accordingly. This promotes customer satisfaction and better engagement with customers.
When you own a retail business, you cannot just rely on one channel of sales in these challenging market conditions. In the last two years, the pandemic has changed the way people shop; there has been a marked increase in e-commerce sales. So, having an e-commerce store is a must. At the same time, there is a customer base for brick and mortar stores also. It is impossible to reject one channel completely and go with the other. So, providing an omni-channel shopping experience and retaining every customer is critical for success in retail business.
But this comes with its own challenges.
1. You have the same inventory, but multiple sales channels. When a product is sold through one channel, it should reflect in the inventory immediately. Otherwise, there is a chance of getting an order for the same item from another channel after it is sold. You may have to cancel the order, ultimately earning the dissatisfaction of the customer.
2. E-commerce provides opportunities for offers and discounts in unique ways. So, you may not be able to offer the same kind of discount in the retail store, creating a price difference between the two channels.
3. You have to enter the data manually for each channel to manage product catalog, inventory, purchase orders, etc. This is both time-consuming and expensive.
4. While e-commerce is designed to provide data on customer preferences and buying behavior, brick and mortar stores don’t have that luxury. So you will not have insights on part of the sales; without any insights, there is no scope for understanding customer preferences and personalization, especially in the brick and mortar store.
5. You may not be able to connect loyalty program and reward points collected from one channel to be used through the other.
All these downsides prevent you from giving a seamless shopping experience to the customers. The solution to this problem lies in e-commerce POS integration.
What is e-commerce POS integration?
E-commerce POS integration is the process of bringing together different online and offline sales channels under a single sales terminal. It synchronizes various software and hardw are components in your Point of Sale such as the cash register, digital payment hardware, etc., with a centralized sales management system that can handle online and offline orders and transactions.
Benefits of eCommerce POS integration
1. Provides a holistic view of the business
Businesses that have no e-commerce integration with POS can operate their e-commerce and retail channels only as separate entities without a comprehensive view of the complete business. POS e-commerce integration makes orders, billing details, updated inventory, gift cards and loyalty programs, customer preferences, etc., available across channels and captures sales data from every channel. This enables you to get comprehensive business insights and 360° view of sales performance, so that you can make quick, informed business decisions.
2. Removes the need for manual data entry
POS integration with e-commerce eliminates the need for manual data entry. The data is centralized, and hence it needs to be captured/entered/updated only once. For instance, if you enter the product details, unique identification number and detailed product description in the software, it is available in the catalog for both the online store as well as the retail store. This eliminates the need to enter data multiple times. Same applies inventory management, order management, tracking and offers.
3. Enables real-time inventory management
POS integration with e-commerce makes real-time inventory data and tracking possible. This enables retail businesses to proactively and automatically stock everything in right numbers depending on the data-driven forecast, so that items don’t go out of stock when customers look for them. It further reduces the bottlenecks in the flow of products between places, and makes shipping and order fulfillment quicker. More importantly, it prevents customers from ordering an item that is already sold out.
4. Increases speed and efficiency
E-commerce POS integration lets you manage multiple store fronts through a single terminal. It automates purchase orders, eliminates human errors, lets you efficiently track orders and collect sales data without having to break a sweat. When you can get everything in fingertips, the speed and efficiency of your operations increases significantly.
5. Makes offers and discounts available across all channels
E-commerce integration with POS lets you create promotions, discounts and offers in the system and deploy them across all the channels. So, the customers get the same offers and discounts regardless of whether they purchase from the online store or the brick and mortar store.
6. Makes business data-driven
Having more data lets you understand the customers’ preferences, the products that they are interested in and purchase behaviors in various channels. POS e-commerce integration pulls complete sales data from all channels. Analyzing the data and deriving actionable insights from it helps you improve customer relationship, provide more suitable product recommendations, personalize offers and serve customers better.
How can you achieve POS integration with e-commerce?
Choosing the right POS system and achieving E-commerce POS integration requires you to carefully analyze various factors and determine what is suitable for your business. Following are the steps involved in e-commerce integration with POS.
1. Check the current state of your POS
If you already have an e-commerce compliant POS system, you can integrate it with your e-commerce platform through the API. But the system needs to fulfill your requirements; so, the advantages and disadvantages of the system needs to be carefully evaluated.
If the software you already have does not offer e-commerce POS integration, then it will be impossible to unite the online and offline store fronts under one terminal. It is advisable to get a cloud-based POS system that directly integrates with your e-commerce platform.
If you do not have a POS system already, then you have to start from the scratch.
2. List out the features and functionality you want in your POS system
A good e-commerce POS integration does not necessarily mean just the compatibility of the system with your e-back end. It also means the system has all the features and functionality that you need. So, when you are choosing a POS system, you need to list out your expectations.
A good POS system usually offers powerful features to manage real-time inventory, customer details, customer support, order management and delivery, returns and exchanges, etc. A good POS system also works well with a large variety of POS hardware such as digital payment systems, cash counters, etc.
You can choose the system that suits your requirements the best.
3. Verify if the system will work well with your existing tools
When you achieve POS integration with e-commerce, it has to work seamlessly with your existing business tools and systems. It should also work well with your e-commerce platform. A good POS integration with e-commerce enables smooth flow of real-time data between online and physical retail stores, be it the product catalog, or inventory updates after sale or payment processing. It should integrate with other business management tools such as the accounting software, email marketing system, ERP system, etc. This will make sales data available across the systems automatically. So, when the management needs to take critical business decisions, it will be available to them without having to ask the concerned teams.
4. Analyze the cost of the system in relation to your budget
The cost of a POS system may vary depending upon the features and functionality you select. Further, some of the e-commerce systems demand extra charges for e-commerce POS integration. So, these factors need to be taken into account while allocating the budget.
5. Setting up the system
The ease of setting up a system and achieving e-commerce POS integration is paramount to getting it operational as quickly as possible. Some system providers offer a good customer support, and setting up the system will be easier with the help of a representative. It is better to choose a POS system provider who offers a good support.
6. Customize and start entering product details
Once you set up the e-commerce POS integration, you can verify if all the features are working properly as expected. You can make changes, customize and optimize the system, and start entering the product details, descriptions and images to build a catalog.
Top 5 POS eCommerce POS integrations
Following are the top 5 e-commerce integrations you can avail in the market today.
Purchase decisions made by customers have always been based on their perception of a business. The trustworthiness of a retail business has played a key role in bringing customers to a shop and achieving sales. Building a reputation and trust in a traditional retail business requires word-of-mouth marketing, where customers recommend your business to the people they know. This method helps businesses build trust over a period of time slowly and steadily.
But the eCommerce scenario is different. eCommerce has a far greater reach and marketing for eCommerce businesses require you to create a strong brand appeal amongst people who are not connected, and are from a much larger demography and geographical location. As a result, word-of-mouth marketing is inadequate and ineffective for eCommerce. Customer reviews in eCommerce is a great substitute for word-of-mouth marketing.
Importance of customer reviews in eCommerce
Finding a good product amongst thousands of similar offerings from different eCommerce businesses is like finding a needle in a haystack. Identifying the right product from a trustworthy business is not easy anymore.
Customers are looking for reassurances from people like them. They need social proof to determine how good a product/business is, before making a purchase decision. So, displaying positive feedback and reviews on your business and products from a vast number of customers is crucial for building trust and achieving success in eCommerce. 72% of consumers will wait until they read reviews before taking action.
Best practices for displaying customer reviews in eCommerce
When you are running a eCommerce business, it is essential to display in different spaces reviews on your business as well as the products. Reviews capture the customers’ attention, create trust on your business and products, and help you achieve sales conversion. Following are some of the best practices in displaying customer reviews in eCommerce.
1. Display customer reviews prominently in product pages and product search
Product search page and product pages are the spaces where customers primarily look for product reviews. This is because, when they find the product they are looking for, they need social proof to confirm and reinforce the faith in the product and business to make a purchase decision. So, displaying customer reviews in these pages is key to achieving sales conversion.
2. Place your product reviews in every platform
In eCommerce, it is essential to be present in every online space frequented by the customers. Customers usually look for product reviews in the search engine, online media, YouTube videos, social media and other online forums. Collecting feedback and displaying reviews in all these platforms using suitable methods and mediums goes a long way in building trust and credibility. These reviews lead new customers into your sales funnel and help you achieve sales.
3. Display testimonials on your website
Websites are authentic sources of information related to your business and your products, and they play an important role in enabling customers to make informed decisions. Displaying testimonials from satisfied customers gives a reassurance to your customers that they are looking at a proven business/product they can rely on.
4. Make your reviews prominent on mobile devices
According to a study by eMarketer, the mobile share of total eCommerce across the world in 2021 was 72.9%. Mcommerce statistics reveal that 67% of customers purchase online using mobile devices. So, it is essential to make ratings and reviews prominent and visible on the smaller displays of the mobile devices to increase sales conversion.
5. Highlight numerical ratings
While detailed reviews can give the customers a better idea about your business and pros and cons of your products, most of the customers primarily look for the overall average ratings in a clearly defined scale. This helps customers judge a product and your business quickly and make a purchase decision. You can also add product ratings when you send abandoned cart emails.
6. Re-purpose reviews that stand out and highlight them everywhere
Constantly look out in every platform for reviews on your business/products that stand out. Share them on all the online spaces where you are present. Highlight the reviews that contain the reviewer’s profile image. This adds credibility to the reviews.
While customer reviews in eCommerce can be useful for customers as well as the businesses, getting reviews from customers can be difficult. Once a customer buys a product, he/she has no obligation to rate your business/products. eCommerce businesses need to actively look for ways to convince them and collect as many reviews as possible. Following are some of the ways in which you can collect customer reviews in eCommerce.
1. You can send a follow-up mail or make a phone call after a customer makes a purchase and ask him/her to review the product.
2. Provide the space for writing a review on your eCommerce website. You can improve the visibility of it by integrating it with your orders history page. You can also add a pop-up page to catch the attention of the customers and collect reviews.
3. Prioritize getting a rating on a scale rather than a qualitative review. It is less time consuming for the customers, and there is a higher chance of customers leaving a star rating compare to a detailed review. Make it optional for them to write a detailed review.
4. Use social media and other platforms to redirect customers as well as other users to leave a review on your business listings on Google and Facebook. Increase in the number of reviews on those platforms improves the SEO and increases the chance of ‘being found’.
5. Respond to the feedback given by your customers and make them feel listened to. It motivates the customers to review your business and products favorably in the long run. Even if they leave negative reviews, write back, follow up with them and resolve their issues. Having a few negative reviews also helps in convincing the customers that the reviews are genuine. 89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews.
6. Collaborate with journalists, influencers and YouTubers to review products and your business on various platforms. Having backlinks from reputed journalists and media houses improves your search listing.
7. Incentivize your customers for leaving reviews by providing them with discount codes and offers.
8. Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews from mobile devices by designing a mobile friendly feedback form.
9. Keep collecting reviews on an ongoing basis, as about 85% of consumers consider any review older than three months to be irrelevant, according to a study by Brightlocal.
Businesses are always looking for ways to reach out to new audience and expand their customer base. There are numerous ways by which they manage to find new customers, right from introductory offers in their retail outlets to bolstering the brand presence on social media, which facilitates customer engagement. These marketing channels are not made equal. Some methods can be expensive to implement, some can enable you to tap a new group of audience, some can help in brand building and some can help achieve conversion better. So, depending on whom you want to reach out to and what your purpose of communication is, the choice of marketing channels may vary.
The power for personalization and communicating the right things at the right time to the right person is something that very few channels offer. Email Marketing is the most effective tools in this respect.
Email marketing is a means of digital marketing where the you can build a database of the email addresses of potential customers and individuals who have shown interest in your products, and send specific, targeted, and even personalized communication to those individuals. Email marketing can be conducted for various purposes including:
Depending on your objectives, you can design your email marketing strategy and customize email marketing campaigns accordingly.
No matter what your objective is, the first step in email marketing is building a mailing list consisting of the email addresses of your potential customers. But collecting personal information is not easy. Customers expect businesses to deliver value on a continuous basis when they share their contact details. So, you should give your target audience a compelling reason to share their contact information with you.
To begin with, the quality of your products and services, and the interest you can generate in them amongst your target audience matter more than where and how you collect information to create your mailing list. Once you get those basics right, you can focus on building a mailing list. Following are some of the ways through which you can collect the contact information from potential customers.
1. Website and landing pages
A website is built around the brand identity and it provides complete information about your company, and the products and services that you offer. It also helps to establish the credibility of your brand. Since there is a high level of customer engagement and interaction happening in the website at any given time, it provides numerous opportunities for you to collect contact information from your target audience and build a mailing list.
Landing pages are specialized pages that are purpose-built to provide comprehensive information about the products and services the customers are looking for. Customers usually reach landing pages from online ads or blogs or promotional posts on social media. They pack a lot of information and have a call for action, which can be used to generate leads and collect customers’ contact information.
2. Social media platforms
Social media platforms are powerful tools of customer engagement and valuable source of traffic that provides you with the opportunities to interact with customers in different ways. You can conduct contests, promote products with offers, post human interest stories connected to the brands, broadcast product launches and send teasers. These engagement drives enable you to generate interest and lead potential customers to a landing page or website where they can sign up for newsletters, offers and other communication.
3. Point of Sale (POS)
Offering a customer loyalty program allows you to collect information and reward the customers with points for every purchase, which they can use later during future purchases.
The mailing list is constantly expanding as new email addresses are added regularly to the list. However, the number of emails that are read and acted upon by customers, and the number of mails that achieved conversion are more important than the number of email addresses in a mailing list. Similarly, the emails that bounced most likely denote the contacts that are invalid. When the number of invalid email addresses is high, the email marketing can be ineffective. All these parameters can be tracked.
Further, a single mailing list does not fit every purpose. Different customers sign up for different purposes, and the communication sent to them should reflect what they signed up for. Otherwise, they will find the email marketing communication irrelevant and opt out of it. This calls for multiple mailing lists.
Also, the customers prefer personalization. Creating email marketing campaigns with a high degree of personalization delivers a good experience and increases customer engagement. Using these separate mailing lists, you can send emails with different messages to each category of customers and cater to them based on their preferences.
When all these factors are carefully considered and when the email marketing campaigns are fine-tuned accordingly, they will create a good impact in terms of engagement and sales conversion.
The ultimate aim of email marketing is to achieve conversion. But each customer’s preferences are different. Depending on what they signed up for, you can engage with them in different ways and achieve conversion. Following are some of the types of emails you can send.
Newsletters have an assortment of information relevant to the customers – from news regarding recent product launches to new product announcements or human interest stories of how the brand and products made an impact on people’s lives. By providing periodic updates on the brand, newsletters help you stay in touch with customers and create a brand experience. Sending newsletters are some of the most common types of email marketing.
Offers and discounts provide value to the customers and let them buy products at a lower cost. Promotional emails deliver discount codes or coupons to the customers to make the best out of these offers. These emails also help in cross promotions, i.e. if the customer shows interest in one type of product, you can send promotional emails on related products as well. All these increase the chances of achieving conversion.
Autoresponders are triggered as a reaction to certain actions or changes. For instance, if the customer is interested in a product that is not in stock, an autoresponder mail can be designed to be sent automatically when the product becomes available again, or to showcase the best alternatives currently available. These emails help keep the customers informed and alert them to changes that could potentially lead to conversion.
4. Abandoned cart mails
Customers often find themselves unable to purchase a product due to some technical issues. They might not also continue with a purchase due to other reasons such as simply forgetting to check out after adding items to the cart. Abandoned cart mails enable you to remind the customers of the items that are still in the cart. This increases the chance of the customer going back to the site and continuing the purchase from where they left.
Email marketing can also be conducted to understand what customers expect from you. Collect feedback from the customers. Based on the findings, you can send personalized messages to the customers, cater to their interests and achieve conversion.
There are various email marketing software available in the market to manage your mailing lists, send emails as per a pre-determined schedule and measure the impact with detailed insights. Some of the most popular email marketing platforms are as follows.
Klaviyo is an easy-to-use and highly customizable email marketing software that allows you to not only create effective email marketing campaigns but also SMS campaigns.
Hubspot is a popular email marketing platform that offers a comprehensive set of features and tool sets to create, automate and track email marketing campaigns effectively. It offers well designed templates and helps you deliver a good user experience.
Mailchimp is an industry leader in email marketing. It offers small and medium businesses a flexible yet powerful email marketing platform that comes with well-designed templates. It also enables tight integration with many of the popular ecommerce platforms.
4. Smartr mail
Smartr mail is a simple but effective email marketing software. It enables you to quickly create appealing emails and automate the deployment. It is also rich in features, providing you with the ability to send Welcome emails, abandoned cart emails and other automated emails based on trigger events. It also comes with comprehensive testing features and analytics tools.
Online shopping has increased with time. According to Statista, worldwide retail eCommerce sales in 2021 rose exponentially to $4891 billion, putting retail businesses with brick-and-mortar stores under pressure. Extended lockdowns due to a raging global pandemic forced even those customers who preferred physical retail stores to consider online shopping. It pushed retail businesses into rethinking their business strategy.
However, it is not always a smooth sailing when customers choose eCommerce over a conventional retail store. There are numerous issues with regard to stock, purchase and returns, refund, shipping delays, shipping costs, etc. Moving to eCommerce hurts retail businesses too, as they have to relinquish the brand experience they had built for years around their physical store and reinvent their identity. So, both customers and retailers want a middle ground, where the benefits of both the online and offline experiences intersect. BOPIS is an ideal solution that appeals to both customers and the retailers.
BOPIS stands for Buy Online and Pick-up In-Store. BOPIS allows the customers to order online from the convenience of home, but lets them pick up the purchased items directly from a retail store. As a result, the customer gets a great online shopping experience and an in-store experience at the same time, while avoiding the problems in both. From the retailers’ point of view, BOPIS retail increases footfall, brings new customers and helps them retain the in-store brand experience. BOPIS benefits both the customers and the retailers.
BOPAC stands for Buy Online and Pick-up Curbside. It enables the customers to get their online purchases delivered conveniently outside the retail store in a cubside pickup point, without getting out of the car. It makes delivery of products much safer during the pandemic, since it greatly minimizes the chance of exposure. Retailers can offer customers the choice to pickup their purchases from any of their multiple curbside pickup points. All they need to do is select the ‘curbside pickup near me’ menu while ordering, and choose the location nearest to them.
BORIS stands for Buy Online Return In Store. BORIS is designed exclusively to address the return and refund issues in a typical eCommerce store. When the customer orders something from the eCommerce store, it is delivered right at the doorsteps. But if the customer wants to return it and get a refund, BORIS lets him/her to directly go to the retail store and return it. The customer also gets the choice to get an instant refund or to exchange the product with something else in the store
ROPIS stands for Reserve Online and Pay In-Store. With ROPIS, the customer can reserve the product on the site and pay only when he/she picks up the item from the store. This gives the customer the flexibility to choose a convenient payment method and lets him/her pay only when she gets the purchased item in hand.
Depending on the business strategy and the customers’ needs, a retailer can customize BOPIS with different pick-up solutions, return and refund processes, etc.
BOPIS is a hybrid model, where a brick and mortar store and an ecommerce site work together to create a unique experience for customers, giving them the best of both worlds. When a customer purchases from a retail business with BOPIS feature enabled:
1. The customer orders from an eCommerce site run by the retail store.
While doing so, he/she selects the time of pickup and the pickup point from which he/she wants to collect the ordered items; the pickup point can be the retail store itself or the nearest curbside pickup facility. The local inventory at every pickup point is displayed live when ordering. The retailer can also bring those items from the warehouse. So, there is no confusion over the availability of stock. The customer can choose a payment option convenient for him/her while ordering.
2. The store fulfills the order.
The retail store confirms the order, sends the order information to the customer, and processes the order. The staff identify the ordered items from the inventory and pack them. The inventory is instantly updated. BOPIS retail gives customers the ability to track the status of their order. If the ordered item is in a different location, the store sends it to the pickup point. When the order is ready for pick-up, the customer is notified and sent a unique code for identification.
3. The customer picks up the purchased items from the selected pickup point.
The customer can go to the selected location, i.e. the retail store or a curbside pickup point and collect the purchased items. The customer needs to follow the instructions sent along with the unique code, in order to find the right pick-up spot and collect the items.
There are three important components in a BOPIS solution.
In BOPIS retail, the customers order online, and it requires an intuitive site/app to place orders. The BOPIS retail site/app should make navigation quick and easy, and enable the customers to search and find the products with a few clicks. It should be paired with a robust back-end that can process the queries of the customer quickly and efficiently to provide a seamless experience.
2.A Physical Retail Store for pick-up and processing returns
BOPIS requires atleast one physical pick-up location from which the customers can collect the purchased items. It can be further expanded to multiple pick-up points across localities and curbside pickup facilities for the convenience of the customers. More pick-up options enhances the reach and ability to serve the customers better.
3.Real-time Inventory Management
Showing the stock availability accurately is a pre-requisite for BOPIS. There should be a real-time inventory management solution to display availability of stock in the store as well as the warehouse and pick-up points. The inventory management system should be integrated to workflows, order statuses and cancellations so that the stock remains always updated.
In addition to these, it is crucial to have staff trained on how to execute all the operations involved in BOPIS retail. There should be essential infrastructure in place, including warehouses, pick-up locations, parking spaces, etc. The retail business should also have mission-critical mechanisms to manage orders and payments, process returns and refunds, communicate with customers and fulfill orders quickly and efficiently.
BOPIS offers numerous benefits to both customers and retail businesses.
1. BOPIS eliminates shipping charges, as customers can go and pickup their orders directly from the store.
2. It makes returns and refunds quick and easy.
3. It saves customers from shipping delays and makes purchasing much faster.
4. It gives customers the convenience of ordering from where they are, yet offers them a unique in-store experience.
5. BOPIS ensures availability of stock always, so that the customers always get what they order from their preferred store/location.
For Retail Businesses
1. BOPIS enables retail stores to customize the solution to suit the business and customer requirements.
2. It increases footfall and brings new customers.
3. It helps businesses, directly interact with customers, understand their requirements and personalize their offerings based on customers’ preferences.
4. It enables businesses to create unique in-store brand experiences for the customers and earn their trust and brand loyalty.
5. It helps businesses upsell, by drawing customers to the retail store.
6. It gives detailed insights for businesses to understand what customers want and fine-tune their offerings accordingly to achieve sustained growth.
More and more retailers are embracing BOPIS and integrating it in their business strategy. Following are some of the popular retail stores that have already enjoyed a great success with BOPIS retail.• Best Buy
Arizon Digital offers state-of-the-art BOPIS solutions to customize and integrate BOPIS feature in your retail business. We have a dedicated team of experts who can assess your needs and create BOPIS retail solutions that suit your needs. With Arizon Digital’s BOPIS solutions, you can create a great brand experience for your customers, increase footfall in your retail store and achieve growth in a highly competitive business environment.
The B2B eCommerce market seems to be growing exponentially. These figures from Forrester seem to say just that. A recent study has quoted that U.S. business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce transactions will touch $1.8 trillion by 2023. It accounts for over 17% of all B2B sales in the country and has prompted many B2B brands to increasingly looking at digital to boost sales.
First and foremost, the demographics of the B2B customer. Today more than half of the B2B buyers are millennials. They have grown up alongside technology and are very comfortable making personal purchases on the internet. They expect the same comfort, experience, and options while making purchases at the workplace.
Secondly, like in consumer brands, the buying process in B2B starts with an online search. Studies show that a B2B buyer engages in extensive search, identifies 12 options, compares them before purchasing a specific brand. So there is no way for brands but to invest in the digital space and get more visible.
Thirdly, the availability of multiple channels. Today, B2B buyers have access to different platforms selling the products they require. Company websites, marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, etc are a few of them. It just shows that B2B sellers need to be present on multiple channels and adopt an omnichannel sales approach to remain relevant and grow.
B2B Selling is a more complex process than B2C. For example, the purchase decision does not rest with one individual. In most cases, it is a collective process where there is more than one person involved in the decision-making process. Also, in B2B selling, the purchase process is not an impulsive one. The buyer needs to get multiple quotes, compare the product features and pricing and then choose the best one that fits the requirement. Very often, some negotiations happen before a purchase is made. Also, products are often bought in bulk, and repeat purchases are common.
A B2B eCommerce Platform should offer all these features to enable a B2B business to sell effectively in the online space.
The Request for Quote feature enables an authorized buyer from a company to start a price negotiation process by requesting a quote from their shopping cart. The buyer can add all the products he is interested in in the shopping cart and instead of proceeding to checkout ask for a quote. This feature makes the buying process easy. With this feature, you can avoid getting on a call with the company’s sales representative to request a quote for the selected items. Now the company is free to respond with a customized quote depending on the size of the order, how long the customer has been with them etc making the buying process easier and more efficient.
This feature allows you to display different information to different customers. In a B2B business, you are competing with other players in the market for orders. In such instances, you do not want your competitor to find the price you are quoting to the customer. Or there are instances where you extend a discount or offer bulk pricing based on order quantity. The information is confidential, and you would not want to expose this special pricing to your B2C customers. Access Restriction comes in handy here. There are options to build different pathways for your B2B and B2C customer, or you may build a functionality that requires customers to register before they can access the various product and pricing details.
A ‘One Price for all’ strategy does not work in B2B business. B2B companies work out special pricing based on customer type – How long have they been associated with you, what they are buying, how frequently they are buying etc. Very often, B2B businesses have customer-specific product catalogs. B2B platforms should be able to execute this online where the B2B companies can set different base prices for various in their catalog and assign these to specific customer groups.
In the B2B segment, sales often happen in bulk. One feature that is a must in B2B platforms is the ability to list certain products in bulk and not as individual items. Very often, B2B companies sell products in multiple quantities and often come in packs or boxes and carons.
It makes it easy for the buyer to add them to the cart and proceeding to checkout. Also, there should be an option to apply different discounts based on the quantity ordered.
Once B2B customers identify a seller and start buying from them, they have clarity on what they want to purchase, the specifications, how much to buy, and the price offered during the last purchase. The Quick Order Option provides the customer with a form where they enter the item or SKU code, quantities required, the previous price offered, etc without having to spend time browsing the site again and searching for the product every time. It is a time saver and makes the whole buying process super-efficient.
In B2B business, content plays a critical role in the purchase journey of a customer. Customers bank on content to arrive at decisions – right from product features, technical specs, comparisons, etc. The eCommerce platform should be flexible enough to quickly make content corrections, update new content, roll out special offers, etc with little effort. It should be able to support images, videos, technical documents, etc. It should also provide businesses with low-code and no-code page development options so that non-technical
users can add content to the site easily. They should be able to drag and drop text, images and change page layouts as required.
Transparency is key to success in the B2B business. Customers want visibility regarding products, their availability, the order status, delivery details, etc. Self-service account management tools are a must to address this need of a customer. An option to create an account, log in and have access to a dashboard that displays all details regarding their orders, including historical transactions, will ensure transparency and the visibility customers demand.
So, if you are looking to develop a B2B eCommerce site, connect with Arizon Digital.
Arizon Digital is a technology leader in retail and eCommerce solutions. We offer innovative services and solutions for B2B and B2C eCommerce businesses. We enable them to run their store better and achieve success and growth. Our solutions power the sites with the latest designs and functionalities that will enhance the customer experience. Arizon Digital operates out of Sugar Land, Texas. To know more about Arizon Digital, visit: https://arizon.digital/