To provide your customers with a smooth shopping experience, your ecommerce business depends on many data sources and individual applications. Online storefronts, marketplaces, point of sale systems, payment gateways, returns management, and other ecommerce tools all fulfill these key functions.
However, these disparate systems can become huge obstacles when there are silos. Your data needs to be seamlessly transferred from one application to the other. That way you have access to real-time visibility of your inventory, shipments, ordering, customer reviews, and finances.
In this article, we’ll discuss why implementing the right ecommerce integration solution can help improve efficiency, reliability, and customer experience.
Some Common Ecommerce Challenges Today
Right now, retailers and ecommerce companies are in the middle of a major transition. COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation, as businesses have had to suddenly adapt their operations amid a global pandemic.
For one thing, ecommerce trends can change rapidly, such as a heightened demand for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other household supplies. On the other hand, luxury goods have seen a downturn. 
Additionally, more consumers are shopping online than ever before. Considering that 48% of online shoppers head straight to a large ecommerce marketplace, they tend to expect an Amazon-like consumer experience across all ecommerce websites.
In this situation, providing high-quality, consistent buying experiences through omni-channel operations becomes key for continued growth. In order to ensure a great customer experience in today’s world, businesses need to make sure orders are fulfilled on-time, provide customers with visibility of their order status, and handle their requests efficiently.
However, not all ecommerce businesses have the infrastructure in place to sufficiently handle the increased volume of orders and efficiently scale. For example, some companies still rely on manual processes such as data entry and uploading spreadsheets.
4 Options for Ecommerce Integration
Without automating your key business processes, transferring data is a slow, error-prone, and resource-intensive endeavor. These inefficiencies can eventually develop into customer dissatisfaction and increased operational costs. Plus, data silos can limit the visibility of customer and order data across multiple systems and channels. This is why integration also needs to be part of your automation strategy.
When developing your integration approach, you should select the right solution for long-term sustainability and avoid options that would cause further problems as your company continues to grow. Here are the four main categories for integration methods:
- Application programming interface (API)-based custom coding: Custom integrations can be very powerful and are often the preferred option of many operational teams. However, they are also time-consuming and require trained technical resources to implement them in a scalable, robust way.
- Point-to-point (P2P):Point-to-point integrations might work great under certain circumstances, but they lack customization. Also, it’s difficult to develop individual point-to-point connectors for every possible situation.
- Vendor-built: Most software includes out-of-the-box or vendor-built native integrations. While they fulfill certain basic use cases, they are not designed with enough flexibility or customization capabilities to support your growing business.
- Integration platform (iPaaS): This platform standardizes how applications are integrated across your organization. An iPaaS provides a centralized, holistic view to see how all the integrations in the enterprise are running.
Benefits of iPaaS for Ecommerce IntegrationFor a modern, growing ecommerce company, an iPaaS offers a powerful platform to connect multiple applications through complex or simple integrations. Here are some additional benefits:
- Provide an Amazon-like customer experience across all channels. Connecting various sales channels and business systems through an iPaaS can help omni-channel retailers improve the overall buying experience of their customers.
- Handle more sales faster through operational efficiency. Automating your key business processes can help you streamline your workflows.
- Save time and reduce costly errors by eliminating manual processes. That way you can focus more on higher-value, strategic duties instead.
- Visit one platform for all your integrations. In other words, think of your iPaaS as your mission control center for automating business processes.
- Standardize integrations across your organization. Empowers line of business users to manage and maintain integrations – not just your IT team.
- Reduce total cost of ownership compared with custom solutions. Finally, the ideal iPaaS includes pre-built integrations for common uses cases while also giving you the flexibility to make custom integrations.
Ecommerce Integration Next Steps
Offering a high-quality customer experience can differentiate your ecommerce business from the competition, driving sales along the way. On the other hand, inefficiencies that impact your customers can be a costly mistake. In fact, 80% of customers stop doing business with a company due to poor service.
By utilizing an iPaaS as your ecommerce integration solution, your business will experience less overhead, improved conversion rates, faster order and shipment processing, real-time visibility, and other important benefits. For more information on key ecommerce business processes that you should automate, review this eBook: The Executive Guide to Best Practices for eCommerce Integration.