Beauty & Brains in Branding & Web

Elegance in Software Integration: the Magic behind E-Commerce

There's a lot of magic happening behind E-Commerce

There’s more going on behind the scenes of a rich e-commerce website than you think.

Since organizations began to rely on computers and software systems to simplify sales and operations, countless business software applications have been developed, deployed and integrated.
Some are massive systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. Others are responsible for carrying-out transactions, such as third-party payment processors (Moneris, Beanstream, PayPal). And, some organizations are so entrenched in their legacy systems, that integration and custom development are necessary to meet organizational requirements. The point is that dataflow and communications run business, and software applications need to be integrated in order to cooperate and communicate with each other.

Let’s Consider the E-Commerce Example

There’s more going on behind the scenes of a rich e-commerce website than you think. The typical assumption is that e-commerce sites allow you to login, add products to your cart and submit an order—simple right? Any idea as to what happens with the information you submit? Whether there is enough inventory, how discounts are applied, which accounts get affected, how invoicing is handled, how payment is processed, how delivery is scheduled, how orders are tracked, how products are updated, how… well, you get the point.

At any given time, several systems are working in concert to deliver products to your customers’ doors and handle your own operations, accurately and likely in real-time. How this is accomplished is through the integration of software systems. No e-commerce application, to my knowledge, is 100% self-contained. It’s these systems, together, that allow merchants to stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  366 on a leap year.  It’s these systems that supplement the sales force, reduce dedicated human resource requirements for administrative functions, drive sales and cut costs.

The Customer Perspective

Customers don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, nor do they care. What matters to them is that they get to enjoy the convenience of ordering whatever they want, whenever they want without having to go anywhere, call anyone or expend any significant amount of energy. A reputable merchant with a good customer service record will provide the customer with peace-of-mind and the tools necessary to access essential order and invoice information. The satisfied customer likely will reward their e-commerce merchant with loyalty, larger orders and referrals—all thanks to the magic of data flowing through integrated software systems.

The Corporate Implications

It’s not difficult to imagine that a significant amount of processes occur between the time a customer places an order, the time it is delivered and the time their account balance is cleared. What software systems are primarily capable of is streamlining all the operations involved in doing business. From the warehouse, to the front office and all the departments in between, the tasks that used to be done manually over a lengthy period of time by a large number of administrative and support staff is done instantaneously by computers that communicate with one another.

How many clerical salaries became unnecessary within the digital age? What proportion of salary expense was re-allocated to other, more productive cost centers over the past 20 years (R&D, marketing, sales)? The point is that streamlining operations and satisfying customers is good, for everyone! This customer convenience and operational efficiency comes from the integration of software systems.  It’s important, highly-visible and needs to be done right.

For a contextual example, read our Gildan Activewear case study.  The gory details were omitted, but if you have any specific, or even general questions, or comments, we welcome your contribution.

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About Freddy

Freddy joined HTC at the beginning of 2006 and worked with us until mid-2013. Prior, Freddy was an award-winning Senior Corporate Account Manager at a computer hardware and software reseller that focuses on business-to-business sales. Freddy was also a Marketing Director at a publishing company and an IT Trainer at a major manufacturer. Combining his passions for strategy and technology with experience in account management and marketing, Freddy brought a wealth of strategic technology sales knowledge to HTC. As our former director of client services & project management, he managed multiple portfolios of web development programs and software integration projects.

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