Until a few years ago, fine-jewelry maker Miansai sold most of its accessories wholesale to high-end retail department stores. As with many other brands and retailers, Miansai witnessed firsthand the decline of brick-and-mortar stores, and how they can’t compete with the convenience and variety of online shopping. To survive this brave new world, Miansai had to look for new channels of revenue, changing its business operations to support more direct-to-consumer sales, while simultaneously being able to deliver its goods more efficiently.
This omnichannel strategy isn't new. Brands like Miansai and Stio that execute it effectively have found ways of doing more with less, automating processes across applications with minimal staff needed to build and maintain these systems. This strategy involves choosing best-of-breed applications while trying all the business processes and moving data across these applications via an integration platform, or iPaaS.
Moving Orders Across Systems
Many retailers use multiple systems to manage, track, invoice and ship orders. If these systems aren't integrated and working together, there would be a fair amount of manual work necessary to perform basic tasks. The manual activities might be manageable when selling mostly wholesale, but once a brand expands to selling through its own retail stores and website, the complexity increases. Cumbersome manual processes used to manage orders, fulfillment, inventory and returns are no longer sustainable.
This is where an iPaaS really shines. iPaaS is a cloud-based platform that provides data, process and application integrations that easily connect web stores, marketplaces, ERP, CRM and other systems. IPaaS automates the sharing of data between systems, so they can accurately provide your business, partners and customers with the information they rely on — and demand.
Reducing Reliance on Operations
Along with standardizing how orders move across systems in the value chain, leveraging a platform makes it easier to build this automation without needing to rely heavily on expensive operational teams, as they provide an interface much easier than building one yourself. For example, iPaaS integrations are easy to monitor. By providing visibility into the integration, business leaders can quickly view and troubleshoot errors. Easy-to-read dashboards provide information that allows users to quickly determine if an error is business critical, enabling decision makers to prioritize the most important issues immediately.
Speeding Up Processes
iPaaS integrations can be easily tailored for an individual business’ needs. These platforms are a much faster and more reliable option for connecting multiple systems vs. custom-built or point-to-point integrations. Furthermore, iPaaS integrations support many types of data flows, whether they're API-driven, a CSV file dropped on FTP sites, or EDI. And as business requirements change, or as threats and opportunities require swift adjustments, the platform makes it much easier to adjust processes on the fly.
Companies like Miansai and Stio are thriving in part because iPaaS platforms have been front-and-center in their omnichannel strategy. iPaaS integrations automate operations and decrease the need for manual processes. The result is reduced overhead costs, which allows businesses to reallocate data entry resources to more important tasks (e.g., market research and customer service), tasks that are vital for most businesses at any time of the year. Integration saves the time, money and resources retailers can’t afford to lose in this ever-growing competitive landscape.
Related story: Total Retail's 2019 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers
Rico Andrade is vice president of marketing at Celigo, an integration platform for cloud-based applications. He is responsible for the company’s brand, messaging, demand generation, outreach programs, events, and communications.
Prior to joining Celigo, Rico was VP of Marketing at iCharts, significantly enhancing the company’s visibility and reputation inside the NetSuite ecosystem. He spent 13 years as the Executive Producer at Transvideo Studios, where he worked closely on marketing strategy with some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley. In addition, Rico also ran his own consulting company, traveled the world teaching innovation and design as part of the Stanford d.school’s d.global initiative, and helped launch Unreasonable at Sea with the Unreasonable Group. Rico holds degrees in Computer Science and Communication from Stanford University.