Why does platform integration matter and how can it benefit your business

Why does platform integration matter and how it can benefit your business?

2023-12-06

Written by BDO ALTSHIFT

This insightful guest blog, focusing on the benefits of seamless platform integration, is co-authored by Kevin Guttmann, an Information Systems Analyst, and Will Warnock, an IT Consultant, both hailing from BDO ALTSHIFT.

BDO ALTSHIFT specialises in crafting and implementing integrated cloud services that are not only robust, but also perfectly aligned with the dynamic requirements of modern multi-channel retail or wholesale businesses. Kevin and Will shed light on how effective integration strategies can result in a more reliable end-to-end fulfilment process, ultimately transforming the way businesses interact with technology.

It is well known that the impacts of the unprecedented global pandemic of 2020 dealt a severe blow to the traditional brick & mortar retail experience. Paired with the ever-increasing globalisation and growing population of digital natives who are expecting eCommerce to be available at any moment, from anywhere, in full extent; many retailers are finding themselves playing catchup.

The landscape of eCommerce has vastly altered over the previous five years. Consumers are expecting a wider range of products, the ability to track purchased items each step of the way, and absolute certainty that orders are being processed accurately, securely, and quickly.

Person online shopping using an eCommerce platform

A diagnostic of one’s eCommerce presence and self-assessment of the extent to which consumer expectations are met can be complex and difficult. One of the most common challenges is simply not knowing enough about the technological advancements that are out there and available to support businesses in keeping up with the rapid digitisation of – well - everything.

Although it can be daunting, reaching out to technology specialists who are well-versed in the online retail industry is typically one of the most effective ways to define your desired future state; understand the improvement opportunities that are out there and formulating a roadmap for improving one’s eCommerce presence – and ultimately the experience that it is all about.

At BDO ALTSHIFT, we’re experts in digital transformation. With a client portfolio spanning numerous industries and various forms of eCommerce, our team can tailor analysis to your very own unique context and requirements. This is important, as it ensures that you and your customers remain an integral part of the transformation journey.

When it comes to improving one’s eCommerce presence and technology architecture, one of the first considerations is the integration of a centralised shipping platform into your retail fulfilment process. Regardless of the business size and existing technology stack, this is can greatly benefit you and your team.

At a high-level, the single biggest wins are the internal efficiency gains derived from two-way integration between inventory system and shipping system, as it completely removes the double-handling of data and also reduces the risk of human-error.

More importantly though, the integration of a shipping platform into your fulfilment system and process, will enable significant positive impacts upon your customers’ experiences – key benefits being:

Format of a Shopify shipping label

1. Faster fulfilment

Without your team double-handling order information, such as shipping details, shipping rates across various carriers/systems, and/or carrier labels, the time it takes for an online order to be fulfilled and sent to the customer is greatly reduced. This leads to your customer receiving their order faster, a critical component in their overall expectation, thus improving their experience.

Employees checking parcels at warehouse

2. A more reliable end-to-end process

Naturally, it is vital that the fulfilment process (with all its handovers and datapoints) is highly reliable & consistent. An integrated system not only automates the flow of fulfilment data, but it also enables the complete standardisation of process - reducing the risk of human error. Each step of the process, each hand-over, is able to seamlessly transitions to the next.

With greater trust in good systems and well-defined process working well together, your team will be able to refocus its efforts from manual & time-consuming data entry to having more time for personal interactions with customers and reviewing & resolving exceptions. All in all, once again improving the overall customer experience.

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3. Happier customers through a better ordering experience

With the above, customers can now trust in more accurate & quicker fulfilment of their order. The desire for certainty on their order’s status remains unaddressed. Or at least it would if it was not for the shipping platform integration. The integration further enables you to share shipping information & notifications with your customers for each step of the way. An informed customer is a happy customer, building upon the demands for transparency and certainty that drives customer retention.

It is critical that the adoption of a new platform comes with plenty of adoptability and flexibility. In a recent case study, Starshipit and BDO ALTSHIFT adopted a slower transition approach from an existing fulfilment process, whilst working together alongside a retail business. This enabled the retailer to stage their transformation and be comfortable that the integrated shipping details were accurate, verifying the received rates from the carriers, and then printing out the labels.

Within one month the retailer was satisfied with these core processes, giving them further confidence in configuring email templates that included shipping information and notifications sent to their customers. On top of this, they configured rules within Starshipit to change the selection of carriers based on address information – introducing some highly beneficial automation into the fulfilment process.

In the same vein of flexibility, there are some retailers who decide to action rapid improvements and transform themselves by utilising all technology functionalities from day one to incentivise all the benefits they desired from a centralised shipping platform.

There is no requirement to slot into a fixed way of using the platform and businesses can opt-in to how many of the features they want to use. This coupled with its integration capabilities makes it a no brainer in the modern eCommerce retail stack. It is due to this inherent flexibility that many online retailers comment on how easy it actually is to improve processes when supported by fit-for-purpose technology.

Conclusion

If you're ready to integrate your business systems in a way that keeps your products moving, information flowing and your customers satisfied head over to BDO ALTSHIFT to learn more.

BDO ALTSHIFT

BDO ALTSHIFT

This guest blog was written by Kevin Guttmann (Information Systems Analyst) and Will Warnock (IT Consultant) from BDO ALTSHIFT, which specialises in th design and support of cloud ERP systems and integrated eCommerce fulfilment solutions for mid-sized businesses.

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