Since March 2020 the face of online retail has changed fundamentally. eCommerce is now the standard

Even before the pandemic hit in 2020, the eCommerce retail sector had been growing steadily for the past 5-6 years. Today, whether you operate B2B or B2C, having an online presence – and the infrastructure to support that – is essential.

Particularly for B2B, an online presence doesn’t necessarily have to mean a fully-fledged checkout process, but those businesses do still need to provide some kind of online e-commerce or ordering functionality, in order to be successful. Having an eCommerce channel is so prevalent, it’s just an accepted part of the user experience today.

There are so many good platforms around, like Shopify, Squarespace or BigCommerce, or plug Woocommerce into your WordPress website (to name but a few) that specialise in enabling businesses to very quickly set up a sophisticated, good looking eCommerce site.

Moving to eCommerce

For retailers, eCommerce can be a way to add a revenue stream by selling accessories, selling direct to consumer, offering subscriptions, and being able to sell gift cards or vouchers.

Over the last 10 months, we’ve seen just how innovative businesses have been. As well as welcoming a lot of new customers, the existing Stream community have also seen an opportunity to grow their online presence.

Many have been able to see an increase in sales and revenue, and others have fundamentally changed their business models or added extra revenue streams in.

For a lot of businesses, this change has been induced by the pandemic, but there are also a number of other things that have contributed to the growth in eCommerce.

Things like the rise in cashless venues. A lot of businesses don’t accept cash any more. Partly, that is because people are shopping in-store less and less, and avoiding cash-handling for cleanliness reasons, but this shift began before the pandemic. With high street banks closing branches, retailers and restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to handle cash, so more and more, they’re going card-only.

The eCommerce Cloud Ecosystem

Stream operates within an eCommerce cloud ecosystem.

Depending on the operation, businesses might be selling under a number of different channels. That could include a bricks-and-mortar shop, an e-commerce store, and selling through various marketplaces.

Managing all those channels can quickly become quite complex. Companies need to have the right systems in place to make sure they know things like what stock’s in place, to avoid stock-outs and know what stock’s available on every channel. This is particularly important today when issues like Brexit are putting pressure on the supply chain, and it can be increasingly difficult to get hold of stock.

We’ve got integrations with various business systems, from warehouse management to order management, and ERP to finance packages. We integrate with:

When you look at eCommerce platforms like Shopify, for instance, that ecosystem is even bigger. Retailers can very quickly and easily plug in a number of other business systems.

There’s plenty of systems out there that can help manage inventory, ordering, shipping. For businesses using couriers and 3PLs, it may be quite straightforward to integrate with systems like UPS or ParcelForce. The complexities start to come in when businesses are making deliveries in their own vehicles.

That’s when it is imperative to put the right items onto the right vehicles at the right time, to plan those deliveries in the most efficient way, and to communicate with the end-customer.

That customer needs to know exactly what to expect and when to expect it, so that the driver can collect proof-of-delivery. It’s important too, to  to manage the customer service aspect of issues and redeliveries. If margins are tight on deliveries, then when customers miss their delivery slot, you can charge  them for those redeliveries and prove where and when you were delivering.

Learn more about Stream and the eCommerce cloud ecosystem by scheduling a demo today.