Order Management

What Should a Fully Integrated E-commerce Platform Look Like For SMEs?

By Jordan Westley, E-commerce and OMS Expert
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Do you need an E-commerce platform that can keep up with your ambition? E-commerce levels have boomed under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, stretching supply chains and forcing sellers like you to look at ways to improve fulfilment.

As a growing SME, you might have looked at methods of expansion this year or last – perhaps using a 3PL, changing where or what you sell – or even growing your team. If you’ve noticed frequent issues that are holding you back, you might need a more integrated way to do business and you’re planning on working with a new E-commerce platform. But first – is that all you need?  Let’s dive in.

What is a fully integrated E-commerce platform?

For us, fully integrated means two things. First, a technical integration (and we recommend that any SME is looking at both order management and E-commerce integrations to cover platforms and delivery – more on that later), and an integration with how you do business. As we all know, Ensuring Sales, Marketing and Operations Are Linked Up Is Key for Growth. Your platform of choice has to fit your unique model.

Replatforming or selecting an E-commerce platform – where to begin

We’re going to presume that you already sell a product and have an online shopping cart on your website, but that it needs a refresh. If you’re deciding between E-commerce platforms and are considering brands like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, easywebstore, Weebly, WooCommerce – how can you pick? (Disclaimer- we are integrated with all these names and more, take a look here.) 

This would be considered re-platforming, and here’s what to look for.

1. Complete functionality for a modern seller.

We could talk for days about the features an E-commerce platform needs, but you probably already have some ideas about how an online purchase works and what’s best in class. It’s time to hit the books and research each platform on it’s merits, reviews and features. When you head on your journey and it comes to the final weigh ins, we recommend you choose based on two key factors, operational costs and overall integrations. Operational costs means looking at the total cost of use – and not picking your platform based solely on a low monthly membership fee. Points to consider are areas such as transaction fees and proprietary payment fee percentages or a limited functionality/services that come only with additional membership tiers, such as SEO or security features.  Integrations leads us on to our next point…

2. The ability to scale where you sell, without headaches

If you are selling you might have jumped straight into doing volumes on one area of the internet, such as your own website-  but how shoppers search has changed. 

Amazon netted almost 13% of US search ad revenues last year, and when paid search monitoring service BrandVerity asked US consumers where they would start a product search for a specific branded item—56% chose Amazon, versus 30% who would go to Google.  A commissioned study by Forrester Consulting found selling on marketplaces such as Amazon, Notonthehighstreet, Etsy, Groupon and Wowcher are likely to boost customer loyalty, increase average order values, and build trust. The marketplaces’ own marketing efforts have done the heavy lifting of bringing customers to their sites, and you can take advantage of that. 

What you don’t want to be doing is managing all these shopping platforms as separate shops. By using an ecommerce platform that’s built for this modern kind of selling, even if you have both an online and physical presence, your inventory and stock get synced so you can manage your store(s) from one account, on any device. You need to look really closely at their integrations list. Who and what can they support? 

Shopify is a commerce platform that does this really well, and offers a way to both launch a business and start selling to your customers, wherever they are with a huge arsenal of API’s and extra features to support you. Many of our customers come to Mintsoft and use our Order Management System (OMS) because of our tight integration with Shopify for this very reason.

3. The ability to handle the headaches

We promised we’d talk more about both order management and ecommerce integrations that cover platforms and delivery, and this is where Mintsoft steps in. For many SME’s, growth comes rapidly, but as well as the extra sales comes the additional administration headaches. 

If you’re spending your day dipping in and out of multiple couriers’ websites, back into accounting software and then turning your attentions to labelling and packaging or returns and picking, it might be time to seek out a new arrangement in the form of an E-commerce management system.

What is an E-commerce Management System?

It’s the final piece of the puzzle between your E-commerce platform, the cherry on top, in that it connects everything to do with selling in one place.  From your accounting information and your additional marketplaces, to couriers and data for yourself and for customers, to get your items from A to B with the best possible customer experience, you need an E-commerce management System. We also like to call it an OMS (Order Management System). 

It helps you by keeping all your online shops updated at all times to stock levels so you never oversell an item again. You can manage all these marketplaces from one platform, generate comprehensive reports for your sales data across all E-commerce channels. Maybe adding in the Mintsoft OMS seems too daunting if you’re already overwhelmed with tech. This is a valid concern, but staying with your legacy system or methods and thinking that you can make do may be false economy. 

By working with the right provider, selling at scale, across multiple platforms, marketplaces and time zones can be made as simple and intuitive as if it was just one physical shop, with you behind the till. If any of your front runners for a new ecommerce platform are listed here – you’re in luck. By working with them, and also using Mintsoft, you get instant VIP access to everything we’ve mentioned here and more. 

If you would like to learn more about this, please download our comprehensive PDF: The Ultimate Guide to Automating Ecommerce Fulfilment

More than 1 million shipments are processed through Mintsoft every month – and we’re ready to help you too. Speak to us today about how we support SME’s on their journey to sell at scale.