Ecommerce Guide – How to Optimize Operations When Order Volume Spikes

by Laurie Smith
January 23, 2023

The retail landscape continues to evolve and accelerate, with ecommerce sales playing an increasingly influential role. 2022 U.S. ecommerce sales are estimated at 905 billion, and forecasts indicate that by 2026 ecommerce sales will make up close to a quarter of total global retail sales.

Today’s consumers expect a high standard of speed and accuracy, and ecommerce providers must continue to evolve to stay competitive. Ecommerce providers must focus on creating better customer experiences to improve customer loyalty, customer retention, and ultimately their customer’s lifetime value. Accomplishing this requires that ecommerce companies take a close and critical look at their operational efficiency.

Here, we’ll highlight several strategies to gain a competitive advantage in 2023 and increase customer retention by optimizing ecommerce operations. 

Best Practices for Efficient Ecommerce Operations

Implement ecommerce enterprise automation 

Utilizing native point-to-point integrations can alleviate some burden. Still, many companies implement them as an afterthought when new applications are brought into the tech stack. The integrations are typically static, without the flexibility and customization needed to handle edge cases. If you only integrate specific applications to remedy critical pain points, you will soon have a disconnected patchwork of non-scalable integration solutions.

The term “ecommerce enterprise automation” refers specifically to automating business processes in an organization that has adopted an “automation-first” business model. In this model, integration becomes the tool to achieve business-process automation and goes beyond standard “point-to-point” integration between two applications. 

Celigo’s process-centric approach to enterprise automation enables organizations to automate any business process and move data effectively at scale. With Celigo, you can connect any application to any other for holistic process automation. You can go beyond simple automation and actually use your data to make better business decisions. 

 Manage volume spikes with concurrencies

 A concurrency is when two or more messages in a flow are processed simultaneously. Your integration flow is essentially multitasking to run multiple parallel requests simultaneously. When your sales volume is quickly increased by 2x, 3x, or 10x, your existing infrastructure may experience performance issues because you are attempting to cram so much data through the pipeline, resulting in congestion. 

The right integration platform should anticipate high-traffic periods and offer you features to help manage the volume and comply with the applications’ governance (rate-limiting) policies. Adding multiple connections within a single integration allows you to break masses of data into more manageable chunks, optimizing the throughput of your integration flows. 

Enable a system for streamlined error management

Most runtime errors are generated due to the quality of the data you’re importing. Therefore, keeping your ecommerce data clean, accurate, and current is imperative. Error management tools improve data hygiene and help you avoid compounding problems by intelligently recovering issues behind the scenes – reducing the number of open errors you need to review.

Look for solutions that have self-service error management tools. It is essential to give the line of business users (the individuals that are monitoring flows) valuable and actionable error information so they can troubleshoot as needed without writing a single line of code.

Automate returns management

Product returns are a normal part of running a retail business – the return rate for online purchases averages 20%, and during the holidays, it can surge to 30% and 50%. If not planned carefully with the automated processes in place, returns can be slow, with a lack of timely customer communications, leading to a poor customer experience. Optimizing and automating the returns management process can be simple, and the payoff can be significant. Recent studies indicate that 92% of consumers would buy again from the same company if the product return process were friction-free. Ecommerce leaders can use the returns process to increase conversions, build customer loyalty, and differentiate from competitors.

To turn online returns into profit, you must level up your returns process with integrations between the storefront, fulfillment center, financial system, and customer support system. Build this foundation by having an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (such as NetSuite, Acumatica, etc.) working as a central hub of your ecommerce operations. Unify and integrate your ERP with core operations (including returns apps, inventory and order management, financials, and customer support). The ERP will be your single source of truth for all returns business processes (from financials to inventory, storefront, and returns processing).

Explore return apps that provide a self-service friction-free returns experience. Then integrate your ERP and online stores with the returns management app, such as Returnly, Loop Returns, Happy Returns, (or your POS systems for in-store returns). You can also integrate your online storefront, order management, fulfillment, and customer call center systems.

Optimize Ecommerce Operations with Celigo

Multiple concurrent integration flows are beneficial during the holiday rush when you’re experiencing an uptick in orders, whether you need help processing the orders or constantly updating your inventory levels.

With Celigo, you can easily enable concurrent flows. You can temporarily set the concurrency level higher to support the increased activity, then lower the concurrency level once the rush is over. Opening new “lanes” for your data clears potential bottlenecks allowing an increase in activity which = more sales.

With a self-service system for error management, Celigo offers several tools to help you improve data hygiene and troubleshoot potential errors. Celigo’s error management dashboards help you quickly understand how your integrations are performing. If an error occurs, you can quickly find and resolve errors without the need for technical resources.

Celigo’s ecommerce integration and process automation allow you to automatically sync return management apps to initiate returns and refunds and eliminate hours of costly, error-prone data entry work between systems. Ecommerce providers that have a fast and efficient returns process create a better customer experience which, in turn, enhances customer loyalty, retention, and ultimately their lifetime value. 

Market-leading ecommerce companies rely on Celigo to support their busiest time of year. In 2022, the number of orders synced and processed through the Celigo Platform (from Black Friday, November 25, through Cyber Monday, November 28) more than doubled that of the weekend before. Despite this increase, our platform handled the increased load flawlessly – we have had 100% uptime since January 2022.

Our gift to you – an ecommerce checklist.

Evaluate last year’s ecommerce system and process performance and optimize for the year ahead. 

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