Today, B2B businesses rely on their technology more than ever before. Forced digital transformation, rapidly changing market conditions, and shifting buyer preferences mean choosing the right technologies to assist processes, have become critical for growth. Running a business is hard, and running an online business with new brands popping up every day in your industry is even harder. There are loads of technologies out there that aim to make the act of running a business just a bit smoother. Using them effectively can help you in more ways than one: not only will you decrease your company’s manpower on manual tasks, reduce errors and create more seamless workflows, but you’ll be able to divert your attention towards growth and scaling.
Here are a few technologies you might want to consider when selling online:
1. A Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is the key to an orderly warehouse. This software tracks all the raw goods and finished products that go in and out of your warehouse and ensures that all processes in it are running smoothly and efficiently.
Having a warehouse that can churn orders at a high rate with little error can be the key to a successful retail business, especially in an ever-growing competitive market. Because it simplifies and streamlines various processes that are susceptible to human error, a WMS can reduce delays and order mishaps, and eventually save your business time, money, and manual resources.
2. A 3PL
When brands start, they often start small, and they often manage fulfillment in-house. With a small order volume, fulfillment is simple to manage… but when a brand’s order volume increases, however, it becomes difficult to focus on other areas of business.
What is a 3PL? On the whole, 3PL providers handle fulfillment, distribution, and warehouse management on a brand’s behalf. Successful warehousing and fulfillment requires specialized knowledge and in-depth market understanding. With a 3PL, brands gain access to this knowledge and transfer labor-heavy fulfillment processes, and cost-heavy infrastructure needs for storage to logistics experts.
As a result, brands have more time to focus on core business areas without worrying about fulfillment, warehouse management, or shipping networks and distribution.
Some 3PL companies also offer services in customer support and have the warehousing space that brands need to scale without investing in that space themselves.
3. A Data Connection System
In the eCommerce industry, there are a variety of ways in which brands can store their data so that it’s both usable for them and also available to be transferred to a retailer or marketplace should they begin selling on a third-party channel. But with so many options to choose from, deciding on the right one to implement can be tricky. Take into account that some retailers and marketplaces use systems that can only accept data in a specific format, and the requirements might vary from place to place. A brand might create an integration for an API that will be useful for connecting with Retailer A but not Retailer B, or choose to hold their data differently and transfer it via an EDI, which Retailer B uses, but not Retailer A.
APIs and EDIs are tools for inter-business communication, and can be used either independently or together. There are some key differences between the two:
- EDIs only speak to other EDIs – that is, both parties need to have these systems in order to have data flow between them
- APIs have the ability to transfer data between systems that speak different languages
- EDIs run on a peer-to-peer network, making them safer, security-wise; APIs are web-based
- APIs are newer and faster to set up and run, but since EDIs have been around for decades, they’re more commonly used (for now!)
4. An ERP
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is used by organizations looking to manage their business functions within a centralized and integrated system. ERP is commonly used by companies working within the supply chain to help keep track of all the moving parts of manufacturing and distribution, and facilitates the management of day-to-day business activities, from accounting to CRM to inventory and more.
Imagine having a dashboard where everything gets tracked and shared across various platforms: order status updates, tracking materials in the supply chain, discount emails to customers. An ERP can be a huge asset for brands using a variety of systems and looking for a way to combine them. But, an ERP doesn’t necessarily give brands the tools they need to scale. They can organize data, but they don’t export it anywhere. For that, you’ll need something else.
5. An Automation Platform
An automation platform like Cymbio’s can transform your brand’s ability to scale and diversify your sales channels. Cymbio is able to connect and work with any system, data-set or protocol including: WMS, 3PLs, ERPs, OMS, IMS, PIMs, API, EDI and eCommerce platforms to retailers and marketplaces in order to create a smoother automation process. By removing the timely and costly process of manually transforming product catalogs and creating new integrations every time you want to expand your sales on a new retail site, Cymbio gives you the tools you need to run your business, from one centralized platform, without focusing on the process that bog down operations and IT teams for months at a time. We cut down the onboarding process from half a year to just a few days, so you’re expanding your business in no time without any additional effort.