Ecommerce apps for smartphones and tablets have turned the miniature window to the virtual world into a fully-fledged shopping catalogue. As more and more customers flock to mobile apps to engage in their shopping frenzy, many businesses are opting to either completely replace their Ecommerce website with a mobile app or are investing in the development of a mobile channel to complement their web presence.
It has been often seen that there is a lot of emphasis put into the front end design and appearance of an Ecommerce app but not much thought is being put into integrating all its back office capabilities, without which it is almost impossible to achieve operational efficiency.
Importance of Back Office integration
An Ecommerce or retail app can have a multitude of back office systems – Accounting, Inventory, finance, Order management and much more. By integrating them, your administrative efforts are drastically reduced, as information has to be entered only once. Another benefit achieved is lower operational costs due to less duplication of work. For your app to provide real business value and improve customer service, you ought to ensure that all relevant information can be viewed and updated in real time.
A pretty looking app can draw in users, but if it lacks proper back office support, trust us, they won’t be staying. Shopping carts are going to be abandoned. Customer satisfaction is going to be compromised. Successful and effective integration will ensure that both back office and front office systems work in tandem.
Challenges in Integrating Back Office Systems into your Ecommerce App
We are listing some of the most pressing problems faced by Ecommerce companies:
- Customization as per the business needs
Every Ecommerce business is different; so are their mobile needs. An Ecommerce app designed for a B2B company is different from that of a business which is B2C. Some require partial whereas others require complete back office integration. Some want one-way integration, others require two-way integration. One size does not fit all.
Take ‘Accounting’ for example – some companies use a third party back office system like Quickbooks, whereas others rely on a proprietary in-house solution. The challenge is then to successfully integrate these systems, bearing in mind that each solution has different capabilities and interfaces. Unless the right requirements are identified, your app will be unable to synchronize all relevant data and information.
- Inadequate Development Expertise
In order to accomplish a superior level of integration and to launch all the required processes, all necessary links with the various back-end systems need to be developed. This requires complex cross platform coding sometimes and an ability to understand the client’s business process completely. It remains a challenge for many organizations to find developers with expertise in handling different IT systems. Most mobile app developers can perhaps do a decent job at building apps for App stores but when it comes to building apps for enterprises where complex business processes need to be integrated, they find themselves out of their depths.
- Maintaining the security of data and transactions
Security is always an essential factor where transactions over the internet is concerned. Your app should have solid security foundations to protect information and financial transactions. Shipping information is also necessary to be protected. Failure to use encrypted connections while data exchange can cause confidential data to be compromised.
Common Back Office Systems of an Ecommerce App
There are lot of core applications in an Ecommerce business which need to be integrated with your mobile app, in order to ensure smooth operations. Some of them are as follows:
- Inventory Management
There are lot of retailers which still run legacy systems. Unless they are integrated, it will be impossible to determine online product availability. With an integrated inventory management system, you can track inventory across multiple outlets. It is a simple way to streamline inventory management and see what products are available, what are running low and what needs to be restocked.
- Purchase Order Management
The order management process helps you control every aspect of a purchase. It also updates inventory accordingly giving you real time visibility into demand and availability. You can manage your orders, receipts and invoices from a single screen.
- Customer Relations Management (CRM)
Integration of a CRM enables you to view, add and edit a customer’s contact information along with all other relevant details. It gives you complete access to his or her transaction history and also reveals the the date and the details of the last transaction date. This information helps you improve customer service.
- Store Management
There are lots of entries, categories and subcategories that need to be updated at the back end in order to keep the storefront running effectively. For example – colors, sizes and descriptions need to be edited and updated in an Ecommerce app for apparels, every time a new product is added or an existing product is modified.
Wrapping it Up
With recent upgrades in technology, and integrated ecommerce systems on the rise, fully automated back office systems are the future of Ecommerce businesses worldwide. If one or more of these systems are not integrated properly with your app, you will not be able to provide a unified shopping experience to your customers.
If mobile technology is not your forte, it will be in your best interest to partner with a company that will spend time understanding your requirements and conceptualize a customized mobile solution accordingly.
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