Five tips for getting e-commerce right, first time

Five tips for getting e-commerce right, first time

Merlin Business Software’s Ashley Jones leans on his 27 years of industry experience to provide five pointers for small- and medium-sized wholesalers looking to make the most of the online arena

1. Be careful in picking the company that designs and builds your website

Most web designers are dab hands when it comes to building a typical e-commerce offering, but I’ve seen some of them visibly turn pale at the thought that different customers can each pay a different price for the same case of breakfast cereals. Ensure your future web partner has experience of working in trade distribution environments as it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

2. Give them the right tools

Don’t necessarily choose a web-development platform with low cost at the forefront of your decision-making.  Some of the popular ones can prove to be inflexible in the long run. The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ springs to mind.

3. Ensure your ERP can accept correctly-priced orders

Make sure your ERP can accept correctly-priced orders dynamically from your website, without the need for manual vetting before they can be processed. Otherwise, what’s the point? Orders received from customers out-of-hours should be ready to pick the moment the day shift clocks on.

4. Make your IT work for you

It’s great to offer your customers a just-in-time service, but wouldn’t it be nice to push some of the costs associated with managing their accounts back in their direction? Wouldn’t it be nice for your customers to work for you, for a change, without them knowing about it? If so, make sure your eCommerce and ERP combo can give your customers a secure customer portal, so they can find that missing invoice or POD for themselves, without your accounts department becoming part of their admin team.

5. Make more channels

The more channels you open to your customers, the more opportunities you can present for winning more business. Don’t stop at having a single website, launch smaller ones perhaps promoting a product range as a specialist website. Give your customers an ordering app for the same smartphones they would otherwise use to leave you a hurried and garbled answerphone message overnight, only to be deciphered and manually entered very early the following morning.