Running an ecommerce business is a complicated process that is not around a basic online store only. To fulfill operational needs, business owners need different software and solutions like CRM, business intelligence tools, accounting software, reporting suites, and many more. These solutions need to be integrated into ecommerce sites for different purposes, which minimize human involvement and save businesses lots of costs and time.
Ecommerce integration, for that reason, is an unskippable topic for new online merchants. When it comes to ecommerce integration, the most frequently asked questions are:
- Why third-party integrations matter for ecommerce?
- What are the most vital integrations?
- How to integrate a third-party solution into an ecommerce website?
So, if you’re questioning those, let’s read the whole article carefully!
I – Why Third-Party Integrations is Important for Ecommerce
1.1 Streamline multi-step business processes
The great benefit of third-party integrations in ecommerce is streamlined multi-step processes for both shoppers and store admins, depending on what you integrate.
In shoppers’ view, they love a seamless and fast shopping experience that allows them to order successfully without moving from one place to another place. For example, instead of leaving your store to complete payment, it’s much better to do it immediately in place. A lean ordering process will finally improve customer satisfaction, reduce abandonment rates, and positively impact retention rates.
On the other hand, integrated CRM, management systems also significantly save store admin’s efforts thanks to simplified management processes. It’s challenging to operate a smooth ecommerce with disconnected systems as your business grows.
1.2 Synchronize data between systems
Ecommerce businesses always require a consistent, global, enterprise-level view of their business objects in many aspects, for instance:
- A single view of each customer through various lines of business
- A consistent view of their supply chain inventory and demand patterns with their suppliers and partners
- A consistent view of their finances across disparate financial tracking systems
Each of these cases needs specialized integrations that synchronize data across systems for a consistent global view of information.
1.3 Decrease data redundancy and errors
Third-party integration allows online businesses to reduce human involvement in the process. Human resources no longer perform repetitive functions as the software proceeds instead. Accordingly, the possibility of human errors are minimized and productivity is improved.
1.4 Better control of your business
Once integrated, the more comprehensive system gives you better control of your business, which is exactly what any business owner would want. It’s easier than ever to manage as many aspects as you need from one location, from manufacturing, inventory, orders, financials, CRM, and other such functionalities. Your business bottom lines are improved from there.
Otherwise, proper integration brings a two-way connection, which means you need to import data into the system just once. This finally saves business owners a lot of time and human resources management.
II – Most Vital Third-Party Integrations for Ecommerce Websites
2.1 Payment gateways
Online stores nowadays provide at least one payment gateway that processes, verifies credit card payments. Indeed, it needs to be both secure and convenient to use.
To connect to a payment gateway, customers can choose between 2 types of payment gateway integration.
After shoppers move on to the checkout step, the site redirects them to a secured payment page hosted by the payment service provider (PSP) to complete the payment. This PSP will check the card’s validity and perform authorization. Once completed, the shoppers will be redirected back to the ecommerce site.
This type of payment helps shoppers to feel more confident as their credentials are submitted to a trusted PSP. The downside is that there’s not much you can do to customize the payment page besides adding the business logo to let shoppers know you’re still with them.
This is an example of the screen redirecting the user to another secure payment page to complete payment.
On-site payment gateways (Direct payment gateways)
Most large-scale businesses prefer on-site payments entirely handled on their servers. In this way, customers can enter credit card details directly on the site. This provides a seamless checkout experience and fastens the process. Businesses have complete control over the checkout process, including the ability to offer specials and add-ons to boost sales before final checkout.
The great benefit of on-site payment gateways is a highly-customizable payment page that allows businesses to deliver a consistent experience.
What are the top payment gateways for ecommerce?
- Paypal offers online checkout experiences, invoicing, and In-person payments best fit for online businesses that need easy online payments.
- Stripe is an online payment API that’s best fit for high-tech B2C ecommerce businesses.
- Square provides POS systems, online checkout experiences, and invoicing best fit for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Haven’t found a suitable payment gateway? SEE MORE OPTIONS at Best 10 Magento 2 payment gateways in 2020.
2.2 Shipping software solution
When a product is purchased online, that order needs to be processed, picked, packed, and shipped before arriving at the buyer’s door. If this process is handled manually, it’s highly labour-intensive and potentially error-prone.
Ecommerce shipping integrations streamline this process thanks to connectivity and automation while ensuring the accuracy and transparency to keep customers satisfied. For cross-channel ecommerce, integrated shipping software is much more essential to gather orders from all channels for one-place management.
Common features of an ecommerce shipping software solution:
- Automate the shipping process
- Manage order
- Manage inventory
- Compare rate and discount among carriers
- Print labels, picklist, and packing slips
- Track shipment (where orders are and when they should arrive)
- Reporting & analytics
2.3 Multichannel inventory management system
Why does multichannel inventory management system integration matter?
Ecommerce businesses operating multichannel usually face common challenges like overstocking, wasted space, or overselling. Many often rely on inventory management workarounds, like using multiple stores to track inventory by location. This way, your workload will increase when you have to replicate, sync, or update inventory for each store. Manually tracking inventory with spreadsheets relies on fragmented data, making it impossible to manage across channels, and prevents the inventory visibility needed during a peak time like holiday seasons.
With a third-party solution integrated into your online, you can focus on growing your business instead of inventory management thanks to synchronization and real-time visibility.
The best software option to be integrated into your store for your inventory management must include these features:
- Stock management
- Inventory forecasting
- Barcoding and scanning
- Customization and configurability
2.4 Accounting management system
Regardless of business scale, you’ll need an accounting solution to keep track of payroll, budgeting, cash flow statements, purchase-and-sales charts, profit-and-loss charts, and so on. Handling the daily accounting tasks with a simple spreadsheet file might be adequate on the first days of a business. However, this way may cause mistakes which create a system of fragmented data. As a result, business owners cannot make impactful decisions. That’s why integrating an ecommerce accounting software is necessary.
Before you commit to an accounting solution for your e-commerce business, it is advisable to look for ones that support the following functions and features:
- Generate customized invoices and statements in multiple currencies
- Allow inputting data by scanning them rather than manual practice
- Automate the process of sales tax and keep it compliant with local regulations
- Deliver detailed reports including critical metrics (the number of orders, total revenue, average order value, order conversion rate, purchased products, abandoned carts, etc.)
Customer relationship management (CRM) involves the practice of collecting customer data, using it to build customer loyalty and develop a better approach to marketing, sales, and customer service. The great goal of CRM is to improve customer retention, which benefits businesses more than customer acquisition.
In the ecommerce world that lacks daily face-to-face contact between buyers and sellers, CRM integration has become especially important.
Here are some features that CRM software should cover:
- Easy access to individual customer data
- Effective cross-channel tracking
- Analytical tools to study customer intent
- Attracting new leads
- Sales automation
2.6 Customer support software: Live chat & Help desk
Modern shoppers require immediate care and support. Accordingly, you should always let them know you’re there for them with the readiness for any of their questions. This is why live chat and help desk integration come in.
According to different ecommerce studies, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is as high as 68.81%. Though cart abandonment emails are certainly one way to catch these nearly-lost sales, capturing customers while they’re still on your site is worth considering so you can mitigate their concerns about the products, the checkout process, or return policy.
Live chat is a set up in which support reps connect with customers on the spot, responding to requests in real-time.
A proper live chat integration provides visitors with a direct channel to connect your support team without leaving your site to make a phone call or send an email. In experience-driven ecommerce, it’s so bad to break customers’ journey because of the possibility that they’ll not come back to your store once they leave.
What features should you look for in an ecommerce live chat software?
- Proactively trigger a conversation at different points of the buyer journey
- Create triggers for upselling a product
- Share files to allow sending screenshots, catalogs, or customized offers between agents and customers
- Provide pre-chat forms for statistic and lead generation, and post-chat surveys for customer feedback
- Transfer chats among agents with internal comments
- Access chat transcripts for personalized attention
- Add tags to chats for filtering using tags
- Keep track of sales and service team
- Support detailed analytics giving insights into customer information
- Use chat engaging features like a popup chat window, chat buttons, eye-catchers
- Set up audio and visual alerts of chat or message, so no customer is kept waiting
Unlike live chat, help desk is a setup in which communication conducted through emails (sometimes social media mentions or phone calls) and these emails (calls, messages) are logged internally as “tickets”. Once the associate responds to a query or resolves a problem, these tickets are marked as resolved. This way, businesses can keep track of questions and resolve them within the communicated timeline.
You might combine live chat with a help desk integration so that if they have a common question that you’ve documented the answer to, they can get it before contacting you.
2.7 Email & Marketing automation
Being the most effective digital marketing channel with the highest return on investments, an email marketing system is one of the top integrations to generate sales. As your customer base expands, nurturing emails play a vital role to keep your brand on top of the customer’s mind.
Other objectives can be satisfied by mail marketing:
- Converting new customers
- Offering special deals to boost sales
- Promoting new products
- Asking for review and feedback
- Reminding of abandoned shopping carts
But why does email marketing integration matter?
With email integrations built to support building email lists, you can collect contact information from multiple channels and sync them all with your email marketing platform without the hassle.
Furthermore, welcome emails, birthday wishes, and other emails can easily be automated with email marketing integrations. This ensures that your subscribers will receive the information they need when they need it and creates a continuous communication flow without the discomfort.
QUICK COMPARE: 4+ Magento Email Marketing Platforms in 2020 – Read to know which option suits your business.!
2.8 Rating & Feedback software
95% of people read product reviews before making a purchase online, statistics shown. For that reason, the visibility of reviews on ecommerce sites is necessary, especially when shoppers cannot directly see and touch the products. Similarly, product ratings also help them so much in comparing and making a decision.
Ratings and feedback software allow you to leverage user-generated content. By integrating this kind of software on your website, you let users rate and review products without reaching out and asking for them. Left reviews not only give customers persuasive information and more reasons to choose a product but also help your website/product page to rank higher on Google once it receives positive reviews.
An ideal ecommerce review & rating software should allow you to:
- Manage reviews across channels
- Automatically cross-post reviews in the social network
- Filter reviews by type
- Request user reviews via email
- Schedule message
2.9 Social media
The most common features of ecommerce sites today include social media integrations, which benefit businesses in the following ways.
- Drive more traffic to your ecommerce site
- Increase engagement for social profiles of your brand
- Amplify your business reach
- Provide customers with additional, more friendly channels to communicate with your brand
For an example of social integration’s purposes, you’re able to stream social feeds directly to your homepage or product pages. This allows customers to share your products on social media without leaving your site. Besides, they can also subscribe to your email list from your social pages.
Other ideas to integrate social media into your website:
- Provide social sign-in options
- Add social widgets and plugins
- Integrate reviews from social media platforms into your website
And if you intend to participate in social commerce, selling your products directly on social media platforms without requiring shoppers to reach your website, you’ll absolutely want this integration.
Finally yet importantly, integrated analytics software is indispensable for online businesses to study customer behaviors, figure out actionable insights, and track important metrics (traffic, sessions, bounce rate, etc.).
Analytics software allows business owners to uncover where bottlenecks lie along the customer journey, what pages customers bounce from, what products they’re adding to the cart but not buying. These insights drive you to make adequate changes to your site and adapt your messages to impact your bottom lines positively.
Google Analytics (GA) has become a standard and leading analytics tool because of its ease of use and insightful reports. Importantly, it’s completely free to use. GA is a potent tool for e-commerce sites because Google allows you to send all your sales data to your Google Analytics account. Once set up, this integration will tie all your sales to actual sessions and allow you to connect sales to different marketing channels.
2.11 Additional integrations
In addition to the mentioned integrations, businesses can also consider integrating ecommerce sites with additional solutions, including:
- Content management system (CMS): In the topic about Magento CMS Integration, we’ve mentioned 3 popular CMS platforms. So if you are running an ecommerce website on Magento, this topic might be helpful for you.
- Site search software: The solution might offer more complicated search features that allow customers to search by keywords, categories, product types, and so on.
III – 3 Approaches to Integrate An Ecommerce Site with 3rd-Party Solutions
3.1 Custom-built ecommerce integration
Custom-built integration involves writing custom code that ties your systems directly together, which can be conducted by in-house developers or ecommerce solution providers having expertise in integration. While custom-built solutions are costly upfront, they will be tailored to specific business needs. Businesses might consider this approach if they have truly unique processes to automate or systems to connect.
For instance, a custom-built B2B ecommerce platform might opt for a custom integration because it doesn’t have open APIs to connect with. And the business could end up paying more in the long run to implement and maintain it.
BSS Commerce is one of the ecommerce solution providers that can help with custom-built Magento Integration.
3.2 Basic integration apps
This is a basic solution to handle one or few parts of your integration using point-to-point integration, which means there’s no operational hub between your systems.
For small to medium businesses, visit app marketplaces for an affordable add-on. When working on Ecommerce Web Development Service using Magento, BSS Commerce also helps store owners to connect 3rd-party software using this approach, at their requirements.
But, there’s a downside: It’s usually difficult to find out-of-the-box solutions for more complex integrations (ERP, POS, 3PL, etc.), which require more than “point-to-point” capabilities.
For store owners of Magento websites:
CONNECT EXPERTS at Magento Integration Service to get advice on which approach is for you and to be supported in integration!
3.3 Cloud-based middleware integration solutions
For a more comprehensive integration solution, businesses can switch to a cloud-based, “middleware” platform between your ecommerce platform and third-party systems. These types of solutions are well-suited for linking your ecommerce site with critical systems like an ERP or automating complex processes for B2B selling.
This approach uses pre-built integration tools for your endpoint systems for faster implementations and will cost more than a basic app integration. However, businesses will receive a significantly higher degree of functionality and capabilities. It also satisfies complicated integration requirements like customer-specific product catalogs, order splitting among suppliers, and real-time inventory updates.
Finally, this approach can handle integrating cloud-based systems to legacy systems that can’t connect via APIs.
IV – Wrap Up
Other e-commerce integration solutions worth to be mentioned: Acquire, etc.
Ecommerce integration, in a nutshell, has a huge impact on daily operations and ecommerce success. As long as a third-party solution makes sense for your business, don’t regret the money invested to integrate it into your ecommerce site as the long-term benefits it brings are worth it.