Software integration isn’t just a buzzword for online businesses, it’s an absolute must. Having your entire business automated is the ultimate goal in efficiency, and if you’re still wondering if it’s right for you let me offer a few reasons I believe every online business needs to explore their software options. Available integrated solutions vary greatly depending upon the size of your company and other business requirements, so I will not attempt to review what’s out there or offer software recommendations.
Within any e-commerce business website there are points of conversion on the site, whether it be a contact form, email subscribe, quote request, or a web order. When a visitor turns into a client, lead, or subscriber, you need a way to gather the information submitted without having to perform redundant data entry into contact management, accounting, or project management applications.
Redundant data entry is a costly business expense because data is processed through an inefficient method known as “rip and tear” whereby orders and/or leads are manually entered from email data. Instead of the information being automatically saved to a database where it can be used later in contact management or accounting applications, the data isn’t available until data entry clerks have re-keyed it. This also dramatically increases the chances of data entry errors and some orders or leads may never be entered at all.
Another problem with having several disparate databases throughout a company is process tracking. If you don’t have the software to effectively track orders, leads, projects, etc. all the way through until completion, how do you know if tasks are being completed or not? Orders may leave your business without proper quality assurance being performed or in some cases (yes, this happened to me) orders ship without the customer being charged at all.
You won’t stay in business long sending out orders/performing services for free or paying the high costs of replacement shipments to fix mistakes that could have easily been avoided. Integrated business applications ensure that all departments within the company are on the same page and guarantee that team members can relay status information to the customer for enhanced customer satisfaction.
An additional concern when you ignore the importance of creating your business logic from the beginning is future expansion and the scalability of your business. As you hire new employees and bring on new workers, it only further adds to the confusion and makes the problem exponentially worse. It also causes stress within the organization that could eventually turn departments against each other and create a tense work environment for all.
Create your business logic early and revise as often as necessary. Don’t go with the READY – FIRE – AIM method when it comes to developing processes for how you will run your business. If you spend some time as well as money up front and put some thought into future needs, it will pay you and your business dividends down the road.
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