An Essential Checklist to Learn What Connectivity You Should Have in Place
Pandemic disruption caused retail merchants and suppliers to pivot quickly to e-commerce. Online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and Wayfair offer vast potential for business growth, but capitalizing on the opportunity requires seamless IT connectivity.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce skyrocketed. Sales grew by 44 percent in 2020, representing the highest single-year spike in the last two decades.
A significant portion of these sales took place in online marketplaces—platforms like Amazon or Etsy that enable multiple providers to list items. In fact, sales activity within marketplaces outpaced e-commerce overall by nearly twofold.
For many retail merchants and suppliers, the shift to marketplace selling has been a great—and sometimes unexpected—boon to business. Companies pivoting to online marketplaces during the pandemic found that, in many cases, they reached far more customers and grew faster than ever before.
But with new opportunities come new challenges. Competition in online marketplaces is fierce, and a single misstep may drive away customers; research shows that 63 percent of consumers will shop elsewhere after just one unsatisfactory experience with a brand.
Marketplaces, too, have strict standards for sellers. A failure to comply with policies and procedures can result in penalties or a suspension of listing privileges.
Customer and marketplace demands require seamless IT integration
The key to success in online marketplaces? Integration.
By seamlessly connecting their IT systems, platforms, devices, and applications, retail merchants and suppliers can keep pace with marketplace and customer demands to thrive as online sellers. Integration allows for fast, efficient process workflows and visibility across operations, enabling businesses to:
Manage inventory more effectively. With systems fully integrated, merchants and suppliers can connect and tap into inventory data in all channels and locations, ensuring that items offered for sale online are actually in stock.
Meet omni-channel requirements. IT connectivity enables companies to more easily implement and use electronic data interchange (EDI) to meet large retailer’s requirements for sharing inventory-related information.
Master supply chain logistics. Linking inventory, sales, and distribution systems allows businesses to quickly move goods, meet expectations for rapid delivery, and provide necessary data to supply chain partners and customers along the way.
Inform purchasing with real-time data. With a unified view of inventory levels, orders, and sales, sellers can avoid overstocking or understocking items, purchasing what they need based on real-time data.
Get the big picture. By connecting previously siloed information, integration gives merchants and suppliers access to data in a new way, allowing them to improve the accuracy of their forecasting and planning.
IT resources are in short supply, delaying integration efforts
If IT integration is the way forward, why are some merchants and suppliers still struggling with disjointed systems and applications?
Before the pandemic, many retail operations were already overwhelmed with IT projects, and after the COVID-19 virus hit and began taking its toll, demands on IT resources redoubled. If businesses do have the bandwidth to take on integration projects, they may not necessarily have the specialized skills for adequately addressing connectivity needs across an organization. IT executives cited talent availability as the main adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75%).
Plus, retail companies with the IT resources and expertise to build their own integrations soon learn the limitations of a custom-coded approach. Each time-consuming build can only be used for a single integration, making it a daunting undertaking to implement the full-scale connectivity businesses require. And if the personnel performing the build leaves the organization, a company may lose the ability to modify or support the integration.
Fast, effective integration for success in online marketplaces
Today’s retail merchants and suppliers need integration solutions that are scalable, quick to deploy, and easy for staff—even non-technical employees—to use. With the right technology, businesses can integrate their IT operations rapidly and seamlessly, preparing them to operate effectively in online marketplaces.
For Matouk, a family-owned handcrafted linen company, implementing a powerful integration platform has been pivotal in its ongoing digital transformation. Connecting disparate inventory, sales order processing, manufacturing, and purchasing systems, the business unified its IT operations to boost efficiency, create its custom products faster, and sell its items on leading online marketplaces, including Amazon and Wayfair.
Is your business ready for online marketplaces? Your organization should have the connectivity in place to:
- Eliminate manual efforts and accelerate core processes
- View inventory across locations and sales channels
- Pack and ship items quickly and effectively, with visibility throughout the process
- Share status data with customers and supply chain partners
- Work with retailers through required frameworks and systems (e.g., EDI, APIs)
- Tap into real-time data to purchase and restock items
- Leverage analytics for forecasting and reporting
To find out more about the optimal approach to integrating your IT operations, download Jitterbit’s ebook, Achieving Connected Commerce in Retail: Integrating, Automating, and Thriving in the Midst of Disruptive Change.
Or visit Jitterbit online to learn more about solutions for the retail industry.