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There and back again: A parcel's tale

There and back again: A parcel's tale

Patchworks Integrations Limited

We’re all a bit guilty of taking the internet for granted sometimes: go online, treat yourself to a few satisfying clicks and in a day or so, you’ve got your hands on a shiny new product.

But it’s not by magic that your handful of clicks turn into something real; it’s down to a series of integrated platforms, systems, and operations. If you’re running a business with any kind of online presence (which, we assume, is most of them at this point), your integrated systems are integral to the smooth journey an order takes. From eyeballs on an ad to products in hands, orders go through one heck of a trip, many parts of which people often forget about or take for granted.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the standard journey an order takes through a well-integrated eCommerce business.

That first spark

We’ve all been there, absently scrolling and scrolling until something catches your eye – a beautiful ad for something that really suits you, or that you’ve been looking at for a while. It’s caught you at just the right time in the right mood, and that isn’t by accident.

Marketing platforms like Emarsys are getting smarter and smarter every week and they work with your existing customer data to build user profiles to make your advertising even more bespoke. From bringing in brand new customers to enticing back old ones, by integrating your marketing with shopfront or POS systems like Magento or Shopify Plus, your marketing gets more dynamic and proactive.

Having a browse

So, someone’s interest has been well and truly piqued and they’ve clicked through to your website for a browse. This means that they’re in the shopfront of your eCommerce platform. Thankfully, because your eCommerce is integrated and constantly talking to your ERP or CRM system, all product information they’re seeing is up to date and accurate. That goes for stock, product variations, special offers, the lot. You can be safe in the knowledge that whatever they order will be what you deliver.

Because your eCommerce store is such a smooth and pleasant place to shop, the customer has placed an order for one of your products – success! The order now goes through your POS system or inbuilt sales processing function of your eCommerce platform and an order is logged. Due to the integration between your front and back of house, this order record is immediately made in your resource planning software like Microsoft Dynamics Nav or NetSuite and the fulfilment process has started.

From click to package

Now order data has shot through your integrated systems smoothly and immediately (hey, what can we say, it’s a great integration platform), your ERP system will respond by updating stock figures on your eCommerce site, telling your invoicing or finance systems about incoming revenue, and giving the go-ahead to your warehouse management to start packing up.

The order is logged with your warehouse management software such as Peoplevox or SEKO and the product is picked out, packaged, and shipped. Amazing, but the job’s not done yet!

While the package is physically on its way, the data’s already started flowing back to the customer. The integrated systems feed back through your ERP to your eCommerce to let the customer know exactly what stage of the fulfilment process we’re all at. Whether that’s through an automated email system or logging onto your site to see their customer information, the customer can always be in the know. They’re keen to get their hands on their parcel, can you blame them?

Like the data speeding through your integrated systems; but maybe a bit slower, the ordered package is on its way to your customer and they’re tracking it every step of the way.

Once you get confirmation of delivery, the data comes back into the business, the order record is marked as fulfilled and a line is drawn under the whole thing. Job well done and with you barely lifting a finger, the automation had it covered every step of the way – what a ride.

A return journey

It isn’t the end of the world if your package does a U-turn and comes home, sometimes an order isn’t exactly what the customer thought they wanted or they had a change of heart – it happens, so back it comes. All part of the parcel’s story!

Once a return has been logged in the ERP system and the warehouse confirms receipt of the returned product, it’s back to business. The ERP fires the data across to accounting who sort out the reimbursement to the customer while balancing the books to account for the return.

The order record itself needs to be updated and again, don’t worry about that, the integration will sort it. Once it’s accounted for back in stock, the order will be reversed in the database and stock numbers are immediately updated back on your eCommerce website so the little fella can find a new home as soon as possible.

Finally, to tie everything up in a nice neat bow, the customer records are updated (again, automatically, no dramas) to reflect their initial purchase, return, and refund so the data is right there for both parties.

A story in automation

When you spell it all out, an order’s journey can seem like a real ordeal, but with the automated integration between systems that Patchworks provides, it really can be as simple as a few clicks of a button while the software does all the heavy lifting.

When automated and dynamic, integrated systems not only mean much less manual work for you or your staff, it cuts down massively on the margins for error across the whole order journey.

So, from the initial spark of interest, to conversion, and potentially all the way back to a return, a fully automated eCommerce infrastructure tells the story of an order all the way to the end.