Understanding the e-commerce ecosystem
Businesses today are constantly challenged by changing conditions and consumer expectations. Fortunately, there is still a thorough way to transform the company and provide product offers electronically, that is, to move your business to e-commerce. Whatever your business is, e-commerce offers exciting new potential to expand and gain a competitive advantage.
However, transitioning the business online is a comprehensive and multi-step process that requires expert assistance.
To succeed online, businesses must leverage the e-commerce ecosystem. But what is the e-commerce ecosystem? It can be defined as a complex network consisting of several interconnected systems that facilitate the operation of business online that we’re going to discuss in this article.
What does the e-commerce project typically consist of?
As mentioned, the typical e-commerce ecosystem includes a range of systems that make conducting business online easier. They may vary depending on the business size since there is a strong correlation between the number of e-commerce ecosystem components the company needs in its e-commerce infrastructure and its scale.
Today’s e-commerce project usually includes:
- Storefront and Mobile app
- CRM/Call center
- Loyalty system
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the subject…
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
ERP is a type of software used by organizations to manage their regular operations such as budgeting, purchasing, cost management, risk management, and compliance. ERP systems connect a variety of company operations and allow data to move between them. ERP solutions avoid data duplication and ensure data integrity with a single source of truth by collecting a company’s shared transactional data from numerous sources.
ERP systems are primarily used in e-commerce because they provide manufacturing information, order management, reconciliation with finance and accounting, inventory and warehouse management, as well as reporting functions.
For example: when developing an export B2B portal for MHP, we integrated SAP ERP to obtain information about the client’s financial performance, delivery history, and sales plan implementation. The integration was accomplished using the OData protocol.
OMS (Order Management System)
OMS automates the company’s whole order management cycle, including all processes involved in completing a customer order. It allows employees and customers to see and track each order confirmation to delivery, as well as to measure the workflow’s overall efficiency.
For instance, for one of our clients, Arena Store (a retailer with a chain of more than 20 offline stores in Ukraine), we have built an order management system. The order on the Arena Store website is now processed by the call center, which confirms the customer’s order; then the order is uploaded to the database, where the manager confirms the availability of the goods and the time of shipment. This information is transmitted to the site, where it is used to determine the status of the requested item and the order as a whole. There is also a configuration option that allows sending notifications about the order status to the customer via Viber and SMS.
The warehouse management system (WMS) is the foundation of the logistics system. WMS is a highly configurable internal system used to control and manage storage, distribution, and other aspects.
WMS may assist you in creating a more automated warehouse by focusing on duties such as inventory counts, cost management, order statuses, and other similar operations. Your warehouse management system (WMS) serves as the backbone of your e-commerce warehouse, and it will eventually eliminate bottlenecks and help you in expanding your business.
For instance, in our projects for ITbox, Brain, and B2B portal, we created an API service to determine the availability of products at POS or the timing of courier delivery (Brain stores or delivery services Nova Poshta, Ukrposhta). As a result, site visitors can instantly get information about an item’s availability at each point of purchase. If the customer is interested in a product that is not now available in the store but can be dispatched from the warehouse, he/she will see the earliest possible date on which the product will be available in the store. In this case, the computation takes store hours and delivery service departments into account. The service collects the necessary initial data from the customer’s 1C system to do the computations.
First impressions of your brand are shaped by what visitors see when they come to your site. And that’s where the storefront comes into play.
The e-commerce storefront is a way for businesses to advertise and sell products or services online. A typical e-commerce storefront provides customers with images and descriptions of the products or services offered, pricing information, a shopping cart, a payment system, and customer service information.
At WebbyLab, we create custom storefronts using React. However, websites built with React can be complicated to optimize for search engines. At the same time, if you want to increase organic traffic to your website, you should manage for SEO performance. Fortunately, some solutions combined with our expertise can assist you in achieving better overall website performance.
— SEO techniques
SEO and React aren’t as difficult to combine as they used to be. Aside from that, not all React-based products have SEO issues: it’s usually SPAs that are still challenging to optimize. So when set up correctly, React can be a good option for building an SEO-friendly website.
For search engines to understand your content correctly, it must be properly marked up. Each site section should include distinct meta tags. Along with the main content, the following functional blocks may be included: blog, frequently asked questions, customer reviews and questions, SEO texts.
The e-commerce platform should also be optimized in terms of website speed and speed and interface responsiveness to provide a comfortable user experience. This gives your business an edge over the competition by improving the user experience on your site, which encourages users to return for their next purchase.
In the majority of our projects, including ITbox and Brain, we apply our custom solutions and, in conjunction with the storefront, we create an admin panel, which enables a client to control all the SEO blocks independently. Such tools can be incorporated into the PIM system as well.
— Google Analytics
To watch the user behavior and build the best storefront marketing plan, numerous events tracking and user activity monitoring tools are available. Our projects make use of a pre-built solution — Google Analytics.
— Cross-selling strategies
We develop cross-sell tools to encourage the store’s customers to acquire other items, such as related products and similar products. Typically, such blocks are used in product cards to effectively and subtly persuade the consumer. Besides, this is a viable tool for raising the average order value for the store.
— Product catalog/menu
The product catalog should be well-structured so that users can access it easily and fast. In our projects, we integrate a catalog management tool and SEO blocks into the admin panel, allowing clients to manage the catalog and its information in one place.
Product catalog can be a part of a PIM system as well as an independent tool. For instance, when working on the Brian project, the catalog was utilized as a stand-alone tool for handling metadata for SEO purposes while managing the site directory.
— Search & Filtering
Along with the product catalog, customers should be able to search for products easily and relevantly using their search query. When implementing projects, we frequently use the search engines Sphinx or Elasticsearch, which enable more flexible search system customization. For example, transliterate search queries, account for query mistakes or missing characters, consider the morphology, manage synonymous rows, and so on. This feature was implemented for our ITbox and Brain clients.
For retailers, expanding into the mobile app market is a major boon. Mobile applications give retailers a unique opportunity to provide customers with the kind of immediate, personalized shopping experience they want. Likewise, businesses may use mobile features and in-app analytics to attract, retain, and intuitively understand their customers’ purchase habits.
With a custom-fit e-commerce app, you can provide customers with a fast and personalized buying experience. At WebbyLab, we offer a sophisticated e-commerce development solution that leverages sleek and modern user interface (UI), solid backends, and extensive functionality to help you respond to the demands of mobile-first customers. Engage and keep your consumers using location-based marketing, in-app messaging, push notifications, and personalized offers.
PIM (Product Information Management)
PIM is the centralized management of all product data. Essentially, it involves the management of content, data, and other material required for marketing and selling products. PIM also guarantees the creation of high-quality data for internal usage and omnichannel marketing. Therefore, integrating a PIM will take your e-commerce operations to a new, more advanced level.
At WebbyLab, we have our ready-made PIM solution featuring the following functionalities:
- Custom integration with external systems for fast data exchange (e.g. ERP: 1C)
- Unified system for displaying goods
- Content filling (colors, materials, sizes, brands, and other characteristics)
- Manual creation of new products
- Import and export of goods
- Content data entry history
- Role and access management
- Managing statistical pages
- Multilingual support
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
With CRM systems, companies can analyze their past, current, and future customers in a range of ways. CRM is critical for any business, including e-commerce sites, because it enables growth and success.
E-commerce CRM (e-CRM) is mainly concerned with online sales and customer interactions. As with traditional CRM, e-CRM is capable of analyzing client information and sales patterns, as well as recording and storing data. The majority of e-CRM software also includes the capability to evaluate your website’s stats, such as conversion rates, customer click-through rates, customer preferences, and so on.
The call center is an essential part of e-commerce customer service. The E-commerce call center provides businesses with all of the tools needed to support their sales operation and increase brand loyalty.
For example, for one of our clients, we have integrated a contact center CallWay with the capability of confirming/editing order items and their statuses. We incorporated systematic unloading of goods from the store warehouses into the call center interface to allow for flexible selection of new items. The ability to edit delivery data was incorporated into the interface, which automatically establishes new logistics for the order. Integration with major Ukrainian delivery providers (Nova Poshta, Justin) is also a critical feature of the system since it enables quick recalculation of shipping charges in the event of order editions. To ensure timely responses to orders, notifications have been implemented via the stores’ telegram chats.
Customer loyalty programs are an external growth channel that can assist e-commerce businesses in a variety of ways, including increasing repurchase rates, boosting consumer acquisition, and cultivating a devoted customer community.
Loyalty systems can be integrated into CRM or run independently. CRM solutions can integrate with loyalty systems to track sales and interactions with customers. A CRM system can also direct follow-up sales and marketing activities in response to customer loyalty programs.
At WebbyLab, the loyalty system is our ready-to-use product that can be implemented by your business. It allows attracting new customers while also enhancing the experience of existing ones.
Our loyalty system enables creating targeted and personalized marketing activities:
- automatic coupon
They can be applied for specific customer segments with further review of the analytics:
WebbyLab’s loyalty system can be integrated as an add-on to any e-commerce ecosystem, or it can operate independently.
In some of our projects, the loyalty system is implemented as a distinct module or as a component of the general administration panel of the showcase website. Its functionality is represented by marketing activity which includes discount management, cashback management, bonus management, customer communication, promotional codes, and certificates.
With a wealth of conveniences and ease, time-savings, and many other advantages for consumers and businesses, e-commerce has changed the lives of millions and continues to do so. A well-planned and well-designed e-commerce ecosystem may add value to your customers’ experience and encourage them to repeat purchasing.
However, when implementing any component for your e-commerce project, it’s critical to understand the existing ecosystem, how its components work and interact with each other, and how you want it to evolve.
For instance, before requesting a storefront for your e-commerce site, it’s essential to consider how it will connect with your warehouse. In general, knowing business processes is necessary for analyzing, quantifying, and comprehending the number of users and products, the system’s load, and other important factors. All of this information contributes to one of the non-functional requirements that determine the future architecture and providers to implement the component for your e-commerce ecosystem.
For the last 10 years, WebbyLab has been developing and integrating components for e-commerce projects. We have dealt with e-commerce ecosystems for large and medium-sized businesses. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help your business achieve success online.