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How to build a joined-up ecommerce experience part 4: What you need to know about integrations

Scarlett Reeves

Any successful retailer, online or physical, needs to co-ordinate their customer-facing activities with their behind-the-scenes operations. In ecommerce sites, there are integrations that are designed to support this. These are specialist apps for customising and optimising your ecommerce site.

But there are potential drawbacks to integrations:

  • Poor quality integrations can end up hindering rather than helping your site
  • You can have too much functionality from too many integrations, slowing down your core platform
  • Over-reliance on specific apps can leave your site vulnerable, in the event that these apps become unsupported, incompatible or unsafe
  • Overloading your site with apps can lead to too many decisions and choices for your customers to make, over-complicating their experience.

What should integrations offer you?

 The idea of integrations is that they take care of the way your ecommerce site’s various areas talk to each other, giving it a smooth functionality, and leaving you to focus on marketing and selling your products.

 Typical integrations include: 

  • Payments – making it easier for you to take and process your customers’ payments 
  • Point of Sale (POS) – analysing sales, inventories and customer data 
  • Shipping – customise your shipping rates, auto-generate labels and track orders
  • Inventory – supporting precision stock control 
  • Invoicing and accounting – bookkeeping, budgeting, and synchronising sales and orders information with your financial data
  • Customer analytics – keeping track of customer behaviour, including page bounce rates
  • Marketing automation – grouping your customers according to website visits and purchase histories to enable more accurate, targeted email marketing and other activities 
  • CRM – customer relations management apps are designed to help you build and maintain strong relationships with customers and prospects, collecting and ordering valuable data about them. 

The impact of poor quality integrations

An integration is only effective if it performs well. The risk with poor quality integrations is that they end up hampering the performance of your site. 

If this happens, it can have a detrimental effect on your ability to sell to customers. 

Website page loading time can affect your bottom line. Website visitors care more about speed than many other features. 30% of internet users will wait 6–10 seconds for a page to load before clicking elsewhere.

If the apps you use are not sufficiently secure, then this can also increase your site’s vulnerabilities to hacking or other forms of cyberattack.

Who’s in control?

Over-reliance on integrations can over-expose your site to risk. 

The core functionality of your ecommerce site should be the main thing that drives it and makes it work in the way you want it to.

If, instead, you’ve designed your whole online retail model around a specific set of app capabilities, then the app is running your site, not you.

And what happens if the app changes and is no longer compatible with your core ecommerce platform, or it becomes unsupported?

The better the core functionality of your site is, the more control you have over it. This can include fundamentals such as menu design.

When does less mean more?

As well as back-office apps, integrations offer various forms of customer-facing enhancements for ecommerce sites. Examples include reviews, additional videos and images, product labels and badges. 

But you should resist the temptation to keep adding to these apps, because you could end up making the customer journey too complex.

There are principles of customer psychology that lead physical retail stores to focus on optimising their layouts and displays.

The same principle applies to online shopping. You need to make it easy for people to buy from you. The paradox of choice is that too many options can cause stress and lead to indecisiveness.

Lean functionality for effective ecommerce 

Ecommerce success comes from having a clear strategy and vision from the outset. If you build your store on a lean platform that contains the essentials to get you up and running, then you’ve got the fundamental functionality you need.

Going beyond this requires careful decisions about what you want to offer your customers. Integrations can support your site, but you should consider your options carefully.

Aero Commerce’s ecommerce platform is made for efficiency, and we’ve built it on a framework that ensures quality integrations through partner agencies.

For more information, please get in touch with the Aero team today.

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