You might be considering building a new site or you’ve already employed an agency on your project. Perhaps you’re migrating to Magento 2 or Shopify Plus.
Some of the reasons you might have decided to embark on this project could include to:
Drive more conversions
Acquire more loyal customers
Increase functionality and configurability
Provide more meaningful and personalised experiences
Improve the customer experience and buying process
All these are great reasons to invest in a new website, and will undoubtedly increase your orders and online revenue. However, when you set out on a site project, there are other considerations you need to make beyond the site itself in order for it to be a true success, and for your orders to flow through the business efficiently, resulting in increases to your bottom line.
Let’s take three of these core objectives and explain how achieving these goes beyond just the buy button.
1. Driving more conversions
When we talk about more conversions, the flip side of this is increased order volume. Therefore businesses should also consider what mechanisms they have in place to manage this increase in volume, from purchase right through to delivery. With large volumes comes challenges around picking accuracy and the ability to meet delivery SLAs and shipping cut offs. These all require your back office operations to run efficiently.
2. Building loyal customers
Consumer expectations continue to rise, particularly in service delivery and returns. Today’s retail landscape is challenging for businesses to build loyal customers as consumers drive the agenda. Customers expect a more personalised service and in order to do this, amongst other things, you need to manage your customer data across different sales channels and keep a single record of every customer interaction.
3. Improving the customer experience
This consumer shift in expectation is also putting pressure on merchants to offer free shipping or returns. We see more and more consumers favouring shopping with businesses with a free or an easy returns process.
As larger retailers adopt new services like ‘Try before you buy’ or next day delivery, this becomes increasingly in favour. In these instances, the site is a mechanism to advertise the returns policy and attract conversions, but the back office provides the mechanism for your business to deliver on that service, or promise, and therefore, ultimately improves the customer experience and drives loyalty.
If retailers provide the option for free shipping, optimising courier choices is critical to preserving your margin. With free returns, businesses will experience increased volume which your business will need to deal with accurately and efficiently in order to get the stock back out on sale.
By the time a return makes it back online or in store, products are often out of season or being sold at a discounted rate and in fact, $5 billion worth of returned goods end up in landfill sites.
These are just a few back-office considerations which should be taken into account as your business grows and choices on business systems are made. Replatforming a website can be a great time to consider your back office system and whether it will help achieve your overall project objectives.
As retailers, we know that there are a number of processes that we have to conduct to fulfil an order just to keep the lights on. In fact, on average there are 30-40 steps and tasks required in most back-office systems, in order to complete the fulfilment and back office cycle.
With all these considerations in place, it’s not uncommon for us to see growing businesses with up to 80% of their budget tied up in fulfilling back office processes such as order fulfilment, merging data from silos, manual stock takes and reporting and customer service interactions merged from multiple systems. All of which are absorbing valuable budget that could be invested in revenue generating activity such as website optimisation, PPC, and marketing.
Shifting the cost model
This is because most retailers experiencing growth have plugged together fragmented point solutions to support a unique pain rather than take a holistic view.
However with fragmented systems comes data siloes, inefficiency and scalability challenges all of which impact your business's ability to meet project objectives when embarking on changes such as a new website.
How to break the cycle
So how can you break this cycle, and start spending less on back-office operations? Critical to the achievement of your objectives and shifting your cost model is looking for ways you can automate day to day tasks that don’t require a human touch. For example: Updating shipping methods to the cheapest carrier, fulfilling paid online orders, segmenting customers based on their order history, posting revenue or costs to accounting, or creating purchase orders for out of stock items.
There are also some additional things you should consider when replatforming systems to generate value from the project and ensure your overall objectives are met.
Objectives - Document key project outcomes and requirements before the project starts. Ensure that these meet all departments’ requirements and that there is a real return on investment. Avoid looking at the website project in isolation, instead, consider how the project will drive overall business change and how it will impact your prospects and clients.
UAT (User-acceptance training) - Plan UAT properly, ensuring that all key workflows and integrations are tested in advance of turning the new system on. By conducting UAT, you will go through the entire customer journey, from the first interaction on site, through to purchase and the back office processes required to understand where you can make improvements and efficiencies. This should also help you to consider areas you can automate.
Data - Work with a data consultant to help ensure that product data is consistent across all channels and organised in a way which will give the desired management information.
Best practice - Always follow best practice configurations where possible; deviate only when there is a compelling business reason to do so. This helps future changes and configurability.
Adoption - Ensure end-user training is included as poor adoption is the largest reason for failed software implementations.
Revisit your objectives - Revisit the project objectives once the replatform has happened, ensuring that these have all been met or that you’re taking remedial action if this is not the case (additional configuration or training may be needed).
In summary, an optimised e-commerce store is key to supporting your ability to drive more personalised experiences, conversions and ultimately sales, but you need to think beyond the buy button and look at your back office operations at the same time. Therefore, when you embark on a project to migrate or build a new site, you should also evaluate your operations.
Brightpearl can help you to achieve your project objectives beyond the buy button by streamlining and automating your back office processes.
Brightpearl is a powerful, all-in-one, cloud-based back office solution that provides everything you need to streamline your business. From order management to replenishment, financial management, inventory, warehousing and more, Brightpearl automates the back office.
Louise Read is Head of Marketing UK at Brightpearl. She is focused on providing advice and support to prospects and clients on how they can improve efficiency and profitability of their back-office function. Louise is responsible for demand generation, positioning, partner marketing and events.
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