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API Integration

Today, optimization and elimination of eCommerce bottlenecks requires an understanding of complicated
digital landscape and processes. Whether its user behavior, technological changes,
or preconceived consumer expectations, eCommerce platforms can face numerous
bottlenecks that could halt the growth rate.
That said, the continuous adaptability to interactive environments and the relentless
boost in internet users has paved the way for a new age of eCommerce growth. It is
uncharted territory for startup eCommerce platforms that have to resolve a variety
of bottlenecks to stay competitive.
Availability and Functionality Bottlenecks
Once you move past the foundational infrastructure of an eCommerce site, there
are particular functionality bottlenecks that shoppers often run into:

eCommerce Bottleneck #1 – JavaScript Errors
Primarily, there is (almost) always something wrong on the eCommerce front-end
side. Though mostly, the nature of JavaScript errors is mainly due to the non-
availability of logs. However, to eliminate this bottleneck, assess the shoppers’
exceptions and experiences in respective browsers to get a complete picture of
JavaScript errors. You can categorize troubleshooting errors by channel, transaction,
name, or other customized elements that you might deem necessary.

eCommerce Bottleneck #2 – Non-existent Error Alerts
Often, eCommerce businesses don’t have a reliable setup to receive error alerts.
Hence, you get a limited total number of metrics, which makes integration of other
features not as flawless as your expectations. Ideally, you should have a dedicated
alert system to notify you about different types of errors.
It is vital to understand that setting up error notification alerts on your eCommerce
platform’s valuable clicks and user flows can make all the difference. The error
alerts refer to crucial click paths throughout the broken aspects of your website.

eCommerce Bottleneck #3 – Non-validation of Essential Transactions
No validation of key transactions leads to extraneous bottleneck functionality issues
for an eCommerce platform. You could practically stimulate user interactions and
traffic (i.e., checkout and browse-to-purchase) to make sure all systems are
functional before a product sale or launch. Your objective is to detect and cut
customer-centric issues in infrastructure layers and your site’s underlying backend.

eCommerce Bottleneck #4 -SLAs (Service-level Agreements)
Several eCommerce platforms fail to track uptime accurately. Therefore, build the
foundational uptime for your eCommerce website with SLA reports. These reports
will help you keep an eye on cumulative uptime (daily, monthly, or annually)
cadence. It will also make it easier to communicate the data to stakeholders, team
members, customer base, or business partners.
Speed Bottlenecks
Now that you are aware of the functionality bottlenecks, your next move is to
ensure your platform is not slow and eliminate low bounce rate:

eCommerce Bottleneck #5 – Front-end Load Speed
The most common bottleneck is arguably the slow loading speed on your
eCommerce platform. The right course of action would be to pinpoint the slowest
page loads and check the top bottlenecks throughout the shopping experience.
Leverage histograms and percentiles to paint an analytical picture of what is going
through your customer base. If you use obsolete tech tools, you won’t be able to
analyze an individual set of pages with skew averages. Furthermore, execute a
customized targeting of your website’s most vital pages (i.e., payment or shopping
cart) to concentrate your efforts on the pages that have a high impact on speed.

eCommerce Bottleneck #6 – Non-optimized and Unconfirmed Front-end Code
Sluggish front-end execution can become a nightmare for an eCommerce platform.
Mostly, it happens due to blocking JavaScript or non-optimized AJAX calls. If you
want to triage these problems, you need to confirm that your minor or significant
alternations improve the overall shopping experience. You can review historical data
to identify bottlenecks and instantly quantify your engineering-based improvements
with an unbiased and unprejudiced approach.

eCommerce Bottleneck #7 – Non-configured Apdex score
Apdex score is an industry-standard that measures the satisfaction of online users
with your website’s pre-defined response mechanism. It offers an overview of
eCommerce businesses to look at their shoppers’ satisfaction level through a
straightforward SLA solution.
eCommerce platforms cannot have an “ignorance is a bliss” mindset. You need to
be aware of numerous users’ satisfaction parameters that may impact the future
growth rate. Therefore, set up the right Apdex threshold to compare the
responsiveness of your customers’ expectations. Subsequently, you can improve
the current benchmark of your shoppers’ satisfaction.

eCommerce Bottleneck #8 – Mismanaged Page Bloat
One of the common reasons for slow load speed is related to the burgeoning web
page size. Whether its images or media, the bloated index can cause a lot of issues.
You need to make a comparative analysis throughout session traces to find out the
time it takes for shoppers to load pages (i.e., asset loading and executing of
JavaScript). You need to review the bloated index issues right down to individual
customers.

eCommerce Bottleneck #9 -Slowness from Third-Party JavaScript
The mismanaged index is not the only cause of bloated pages. Integrated SEO tags
or third-party APIs such as payment gateways, ERP databases, tracking, analytics,
and social parameters can also result in bloated pages.
To avoid these performance bottlenecks, you might have to disable features that
impact website performance, breakages, or delays. Simultaneously, find out the
right third-party JavaScript culprit. Consequently, you will be able to get the value of
stacks instead of the incurred cost of page load.

What about Mobile eCommerce Bottlenecks?
Alternatively, many metrics can affect the mobile compatibility of your eCommerce
platform. Whether its users’ shopping experience or quality of service level, make
sure the availability of mobile app comes with tracking without unexpected
collapses.
Apart from mobile slowness, crashes, or errors, make sure to evaluate crash
occurrences. You will need a crash analysis to find the crash occurrences over a
short or extended period. A powerful analytical tool can filter high-crash
occurrences down the last detail. Also, segment the individual and collective
customer’s crashes.

Conclusion
Whether it is a functional, speed, or mobile eCommerce bottleneck, there are long-
term consequences for the platform’s performance and growth in the foreseeable
future. Realistically, the growth rate of an eCommerce platform is not synonymous
with optimizing everything.
Every eCommerce model ultimately has to bear the burden of a few bottleneck
issues. The solution, however, is not to opt for short-term or quick solutions.
Instead, devise a practical strategy targeted towards specific bottlenecks that
hinder the growth most.
The key to maintaining your contemporary eCommerce growth depends on how you
utilize resources that would eventually create more opportunities for a huge scale-
up. From identifying bottlenecks to executing strategy, everyone has to be on the
same page to increase growth chances.

Check out APIWORX to help get rid of your integration bottlenecks!

eCommerce Integration Defined

eCommerce is a broad field encompassing many industries and types of software. To many people, this is a confusing term, since it is often used interchangeably with other, related words. In this article, we cut through the noise, clearing up what eCommerce is and what it means to integrate this into your business. We also discuss why this is important for your business success and how to go about the integration process.

What is eCommerce?

eCommerce is short for electronic commerce. Simply put, this is a system where goods and services and bought and sold using electronic systems, like the internet. To make sense of these transactions, some data, such as inventory and pricing information, travel along with the transaction data.
While eCommerce predates the internet (it started in the 1980s), it has, of late, become almost entirely dependent on the internet. Features like group buying, private sales, and social commerce form part of eCommerce as the field continually evolve. Both small and large businesses use eCommerce to supply the demand for retail convenience – people want to purchase things 24/7 from the comfort of their living room, and they want things to work well.

To this end, businesses use a wide range of websites and website models to fuel online shopping. The downside is that these websites often don’t integrate well with other, existing processes, and inventory management software packages.

What is eCommerce Integration?

Linking your online shop or retail website to your inventory system, order management and accounting systems is essential for success today. Customers should know whether or not the item they want to buy is in stock, refunds should go through seamlessly regardless of the channel the customer used and your CRM systems should have a full and complete view of the customers order history.

Sure, you could manually update all this information, but that would take an inordinate amount of time and resources. The information on your website would then also be constantly out of date, exasperating customers and staff alike. Alternatively, you could link your retail website to the back-end accounting and inventory system. This accounting system is better known as ERP (enterprise resource planning) software – there are also a wide variety of software packages on the market to this end.

Proper integration of all these systems allows for full automation, resulting in an update on all systems, i.e. bi-directional data flow. Here, inventory levels update automatically at each step in the process: when the product is sold on the eCommerce website, when the product leaves or enters a warehouse, and when the entire transaction is complete. Initially, these updates occurred in batches, once or twice daily. Recently, however, advances in technology allows for real-time or near-real-time data flow, keeping your site up to date, to the minute.

We work with companies all the time trying to solve this problem. The scope varies dramatically depending on the specific needs, but consider this recent example.

The customer operates three different websites one on Shopify, one on BigCommerce and another using WooCommerce on their own server. They also sell through several different marketplaces. They have an Amazon Seller Marketplace Account, an eBay account and Lazada. All have different requirements for integration. Further complicating matters are the different payment systems and methods applied from each channel. And finally to make matters worse, all inventory is shipped from a third-party warehouse vendor or 3PL.

Lastly, your bank, accountant and shareholders need a consolidated view of this information in a proper accounting system.

To say the least, doing this right is hard.

When eCommerce integration allows for real-time updates, the pricing, inventory, order and shipping information available to staff and customers are up-to-date, easing the process flow. The added benefit is that this is all handled automatically, decreasing the need for staff on hand to complete transactions.

Why is eCommerce Integration Important?

Often, businesses rely on a variety of different packages for their eCommerce websites, business operations, and ERP systems. Too often, these software packages can’t communicate with each other, hampering the integration process. Here, staff members suffer exasperation as they untangle the mass of conflicting messages. Their task is figuring out what was sold, at what price, and what’s left in the inventory. This disconnect severely hampers business flow and thus the profit margins and customer experience.

Customers Want a Seamless Experience

Customers expect a seamless experience in brand interaction, regardless of the type of interaction they choose. They expect the information on your website to be accurate and up to date, and they expect smooth sailing in purchasing your goods or services. This is where eCommerce integration enters the picture. If customers have a disjointed experience with your brand, fuelled by systems that can’t talk to each other, they are unlikely to return or recommend the brand to others.

With proper integration, your eCommerce, business operations, and ERP systems “talk” to each other in real-time, resulting in accurate, up-to-date information displaying on all your platforms, both front-end, and back-end. Here, customers know whether the goods or services they require, are available and when to expect delivery. With correct pricing information, your bottom line is protected as well.

With eCommerce integration, shipping addresses are also updated automatically. The customer types in their own delivery address, which is then used across the entire purchasing process. You no longer have human error entering in to misspell addresses, resulting in late deliveries and frustrated customers. Integration allows for automatic shipping notifications, enabling customers to track deliveries from when they ordered to when the package arrives at their door.

Another benefit of proper integration is in handling returns. This is especially relevant for online fashion retailers – customers often change their minds and return products. Traditionally, this was a nightmare for online retailers, since the return process was handled manually. Integration automates even this process, saving time for your employees and simplifying the process for the customer.

Saves Time and Money

Integration has the added benefit of real-time sales tracking and statistical analysis. Since the process is fully automated, you no longer have staff members cranking away at the hidden machinery, updating inventories and tracking sales manually. For companies with large sales volumes, this process was traditionally a full-time job for entire teams of people. These teams are now free to do work of greater value to your company, saving both time and money. Automation is the way of the future. With automation, you have the added benefit of eliminating human error, something that often occurs when entering data manually.

Manage Increased Sales Volumes Easily

Since eCommerce integration allows for automatic updates on all your linked systems, you save time on data entry. In the past, an uptick in sales meant hours in front of a screen, manually keying in sales figures and finding mistakes to match up your online and actual inventories. With the automatic updates resulting from proper integration, you will know exact inventory levels in real-time. When merchants experience an increase in sales volume, they know immediately and can thus act immediately if needed. This integration also prevents overselling, which is a definite benefit to the merchant.

An uptick in sales used to mean a mad dash to get more inventory, as you only know that you’re running low on a product when it’s already too late. Proper integration adds a buffer, buying you time to supplement inventory levels if needed. Real-time access to this data shortens your staff members’ reaction time as well.
Often, increased sales volume are the result of extended marketplaces. This often happens when you add an additional website to your eCommerce arsenal. With proper integration, you can do this without losing operational efficiency. Your customers won’t even know the difference.

Online Retail is on the Rise

According to eMarketer, global retail eCommerce sales could account for as much as $4 trillion at the end of 2020. This staggering amount accounts for 14.6% of the forecasted retail spending of the year. Of course, these numbers might change dramatically in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. According to news reports, online spending is on the rise with the increase of social distancing measures and the advent of the touch-free economy. Getting your business in line with the latest market trends is essential to stay ahead of the pack.

How do I Integrate eCommerce?

eCommerce integration, if done right, is a smooth process with minimal disruption to the workflow and other business operations. Here, two or more systems that can’t work together are “taught” to work together, facilitating bi-directional data flow. For this to work smoothly, minimizing the effect on your customers and staff members, you need the right people on the job. Industry experts, such as the teams from APIworx, understand your concerns regarding integration, and they know the challenges you face without integration.

Before lifting a finger to integrate your current systems, you need to understand where you’re headed. This will help clarify which system and solutions are needed for successful integration. Our team has the relevant experience to make this happen with minimal disruption to your current systems and optimal performance of the integrated system.

For new businesses, this road is far simpler, since they can factor in eCommerce integration from the get-go. There are many “all-in-one” software packages available that allow for integration across all aspects of a growing business. Here, choosing the right solution for your business is simpler and potentially less expensive than after-the-fact integration options.

In Closing

eCommerce is on the rise, taking over market share at a rapid rate. To keep up with current and future global demands, eCommerce integration is essential for all online retailers. For new businesses, this integration is simple, since they can choose an all-in-one software package to help them on their way. Established businesses that are not yet integrated, have a more challenging road ahead of them. For them, finding the right integration solution is essential – that’s where APIworx can help.