The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the ability of Shopify retailers to deliver like never before. In particular, hybrid retailers with operations in both brick & mortar and online stores have faced extraordinary difficulty with getting product where it needs to be. We sat down with our Product Manager for Integration Apps, Padma Jinka, to talk about what these market disruptions entail and how retailers can adapt.
The eCommerce landscape and consumer shopping behavior has changed a lot with COVID-19. How did this affect your customers, did you see their needs in terms of running their business and serving consumers change?
There’s been a significant shift in consumer buying behavior, everywhere from brick & mortar shopping to online shopping to bulk buying. Consumers fear visiting public places, avoiding them as much as they can. As a result, online sales have experienced a surge in volume whereas store sales have dipped. One more notable behavior shift is a surge in bulk orders to stockpile goods, as consumers panic about their future availability.
On the other side, there are challenges in supply chain & logistics services availability due to the unprecedented demand for online sales for certain product categories. For instance, Amazon introduced quantity limits on incoming products in the Fulfillment by Amazon program.
Delivery time is taking more than the usual window.
As consumers acclimatize to the new normal, the need for retailers to come up with innovative weapons is entailing more than ever to make the shopping experience smooth & frictionless.
You recently introduced support for Shopify POS Pro within the Shopify – NetSuite Integration App. What do you think of Shopify POS Pro, and what are your thoughts on how this new Shopify product will help eCommerce and retail businesses?
A merchant needs a simplified omnichannel strategy that brings online & in-store sales together to overcome current challenges, as well as gearing up for the growth opportunities from the new buying patterns. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shopify launched POS Pro edition in May 2020 to empower merchants with the required tools to seize every opportunity. The key features of this launch are:
- Curbside pickup: Curbside pickup allows buyers to shop online and pick up their orders at their preferred location. This feature is an excellent choice for consumers to maintain physical distancing protocols and to exceptionally deduce average shopping time spent at the Store. Curbside pickup offers several other benefits: Buyer can save shipping costs, and have their order in-hand within a couple of hours.
- Ship to customers from multiple locations. Merchants should no longer lose sales due to selling out stock. If any product is running out of stock at a POS store, merchants can still place an order from different locations, be it a warehouse or other stores, and ship directly to the customer address.
These features, along with others like buy online and return/exchange in store, unify online stores and brick & mortars together to build a more resilient business.
Can you talk about the new features you introduced for Celigo’s Shopify-NetSuite Integration App and how these help merchants?
Let’s first look at the process workflow before we dive deep into the newly introduced features into Shopify-NetSuite Integration App.
Though the curbside order is placed online, the order is marked as fulfilled by store staff when the buyer collects the order. Fulfillment is triggered in Shopify in contrast to typical fulfillment of online orders: fulfilled by the warehouse team, operating from NetSuite. With our new features, we enable our customers to distinguish curbside pickup orders from online orders so the warehouse team doesn’t accidentally fulfill them. Additionally, we introduced a new integration flow to synchronize fulfillment information from Shopify to NetSuite, updating the inventory levels in the master system. The flow covers advanced functionality such as support of Lot & Serialised items and Bin numbered items.
For “Buy in-store, Ship to Customer”, the order originates from a POS store but calls for additional processing/downstream steps like fulfillments, in contrast to typical POS orders where the fulfillment happens then and there. Our solution is enhanced to bring parity to the new business workflow, drive efficiency, and eliminate manual data entry.
How can Shopify-NetSuite Integration App subscribers get started using these features right now? Do these new features require any additional investment for new systems and integrations?
The features are packaged in the Premium Edition of Celigo’s Shopify-NetSuite Integration App. If you’re a current subscriber of the Premium Edition, your accounts will already be upgraded to the new release version.
We’ve simplified the configuration steps so that they don’t require implementation consultation nor support involvement. All you need to do is enable a couple of checkboxes, and you’re all set to leverage the benefits of new features.
Two checkbox settings are added under POS tab: Sync “Buy in-store, ship to a customer” orders as a sales order, “Buy online, pick up in store”
Without the Integration App, how would a typical business go about creating this integration between Shopify and NetSuite? What are the benefits that the Integration App brings over DIY integrations?
You can’t afford to miss orders due to stock outs or offer poor buying experience by overselling. Integration becomes an essential part of the growth strategy to display accurate inventory levels across multiple sales channels. Lack of visibility to order status and long lead time of fulfillments stands in your way to deliver consistent customers and earn their respect. Automation eliminates the need for manual data entry between two systems, which cuts down on errors, saves time, and increases operational efficiency.
There are multiple ways to integrate two systems. Point-to-point integrations are the simplest form. The flip side of them is they’re incredibly difficult and expensive to customize, especially when the business deviates from common use-cases.
Custom-built integrations require technical (e.g. APIs and Coding) knowledge, domain expertise, and dedicated human resources to build and maintain. It’s an option for businesses with complete tailor-made requirements and the resources to build the integration from scratch.
Our Integration App features the best of both worlds. Built on a powerful and robust iPaaS (integration platform as a service), it automates order to cash workflow across order processing, inventory management, catalog management, fulfillments and cash reconciliation right out of the box while also minimizing ongoing maintenance costs.
Once the Integration App is up and running, do your customers usually hire technical staff to maintain these integrations? How much investment is needed on their end?
No, technical staff aren’t required to deploy or maintain the integration. Integration Apps are designed for business users to have prebuilt, fully managed applications that are intuitive & easy to set up. Integration Apps are supported and maintained as standalone SaaS applications with automatic updates and continuous maintenance – Celigo does the bulk of the work for you.