When it comes to making hotel reservations, it’s obvious why real-time processing is critical. If at 8:31 a.m. a couple books the penthouse suite for Labor Day weekend, the computer software needs to list the room as occupied by no later than 8:32 a.m. Any delays would result in mass confusion, frustration and an array of missed opportunities for the hotel. When it comes to reservations, anything but real-time processing is simply bad for business.
Unfortunately, some small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t realize that real-time processing for e-commerce inventory is just as important as real-time reservation processing in the hospitality industry. What happens is SMBs rely on outdated e-commerce tools that lag in posting transactions. This delay causes inconsistency with inventory information, billing and a host of other accounting and business records. Everyone gets confused and no one benefits.
There is a simple solution. The key to successfully managing e-commerce inventory in real-time is using a powerful cloud ERP system to track orders, stock, supplier information, sales, deliveries and other relevant inventory records. It’s only with a modern system that this is possible.
Here are a few tips and ideas that SMB leaders who might be jumping into the world of e-commerce should consider.
- Integration between your cloud ERP software and e-commerce applications allows for real-time capabilities: This means you’ll be able to display more accurate information because there isn’t any need for manual reconciliation between the two systems. How many products are in the warehouse right now? Your cloud ERP software reports that you have 1,000 products, but your warehouse manager says, “No, there are only 900 products here.” This kind of discrepancy happens all the time. A company’s e-commerce software will provide product counts but “the same” inventory data is also sitting in your cloud ERP system. This means companies have to reconcile their own inventory systems to make sure the numbers add up.
- Customers need real-time information, too: If you’re managing an e-commerce website, you need real-time capabilities in order to let customers know if the item they want is in stock or not. You don’t want someone buying products, paying for them, and then finding out later that the item isn’t in stock and they’ll have to wait longer than expected.
- Amazon and eBay require real-time inventory: If part of your e-commerce system is listing and selling through these two websites, you must have real-time information. These services simply won’t allow you to sell on their site on without committing to that.
- Shipping can get complicated and expensive when people are buying multiple items: This happens quite often for companies that sell on Amazon. Some items ship immediately because they’re available and some ship at a later date. A cloud ERP solution allows the company to know what the customer will receive and when in addition to how much shipping will cost. With real-time capabilities, four or five different items can ship when they all become available, so you don’t have to pay for shipping several packages separately.
- Real-time systems allow companies to provide great customer service: Say a customer returns an item and the transaction is logged into the system. A CRM system uses this information to provide insight about the item and the customer. That’s great, but then the company still has to replenish that product information in the cloud ERP software, a manual effort. However, e-commerce/ERP integration inventory matching between the two programs eliminates possible errors and ultimately improves customer service.
Integration is built into a cloud ERP system to keep you from having to build a solution or pay for integration to get them to work together. All-in-one integrated solutions are vital to preventing a lot of headaches, confusion and bad business practices.