The "Amazon-like Experience" Starts With Integration

Buyer expectation has changed dramatically.

The buyer experience needs to be not just easy, but easier than it ever was before. (A supply chain that can deliver a widget to your doorstep within hours of hitting the checkout button has that effect.)

Without integration, there is no Amazon-like experience.

Attribute it to technology. Attribute it to ecommerce. Attribute it to Amazon.

But here’s what’s really changing buyer expectations. It won’t get mentioned nearly as often as the "the Amazon-like experience.” But it’s even more critical.

It’s integration.

Without integration, there is no Amazon-like experience.

Operations would slow to a painful manual crawl that would make it impossible to create the fast, seamless experience that raised buyer expectations in the first place. Orders would wait for people to do things that computers could have done already, while manual mistakes would slow the order down even more.

Integration allows technology systems to talk to one another, automatically and in real-time, replacing manual process with automation that creates the most efficient transactions possible. The manual processes that cost so much time and labor disappear, and now it’s possible to deliver the ultra-efficient experience that buyers expect.

Here are a few types of integration and how they help:

Back Office Integration

It’s hard to deliver a widget in a matter of hours if it takes hours to start and finish the order.

An integrated back office allows sellers to process transactions seamlessly so that the buyer experience can be seamless. (It’s hard to deliver a widget in a matter of hours if it takes hours to start and finish the order, for example.)

In an integrated back-office, all of the pieces communicate with one another automatically and in real-time, so customer information flows freely and automatically through the system from CRM to Order Management to Fulfillment to Accounting and beyond.

There is no need for the manual processes like re-keying that ultimately undercut the buyer experience by building time and cost into every transaction.

Ecommerce Integration

Ecommerce integration creates a seamless flow between the back office and the online marketplace.

Ecommerce integration is what connects your ecommerce website or company store to the back-office.

It’s another critical component in the "Amazon-like experience” for at least three reasons:

  • It provides a feed of product information from the back office out into the online marketplace, so it’s populating what’s actually available for customers to see and buy.
  • Online orders automatically flow into the back office ready for immediate processing with no time wasted.
  • Business rules set in the back office (rules for pricing and configuration, for example) can be automatically applied so that orders arrive complete, accurate, and ready for immediate processing without delay.

By automatically populating the website, automatically entering orders, and automatically applying business rules, ecommerce integration creates a seamless flow between the back office and the online marketplace for a seamless buyer experience.

Trading Partner Integration

Distributors and Suppliers can connect their systems so that information flows between the two companies automatically.

Back office integration covers the employee-facing portion of the transaction. Ecommerce integration covers the customer-facing portion of the transaction. How about the vendor-facing portion?

That’s where trading partner integration comes in. Distributors and Suppliers can connect their systems so that information flows between the two companies automatically and in real-time.

Like all integration, it replaces manual processes with automation. Instead of exchanging phone calls and emails about price and availability, for example, either company can just look it up in their own system.

Order Status, Advance Ship Notice, Media, Product Data, Purchase Orders, Product Configuration, and Invoices are other information that can be shared through trading partner integration.

Integration for the "Amazon-like Experience"

Buyer effort is reduced, buyer cost is reduced, buyer waiting is reduced and the buyer experience becomes "Amazon-like."

Integration can improve every part of the supply chain – buyer, seller, vendor -- and its ability to create efficiency is what makes the "Amazon-like experience" possible.

When the transaction is efficient, buyers are receiving orders as quickly as possible without the built-in costs of manual processes. Buyer effort is reduced, buyer cost is reduced, buyer waiting is reduced and the buyer experience becomes "Amazon-like."

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