Is Your Website Doing The Heavy Lifting For You? //php get_posflags()?>
Posted on | November 1, 2008
Written by | Ian Griffith
Experienced tradesmen know the value of a good tool is its practical utility. Depending on the trade, a tool can save your back or deliver flush joints. In our work supporting retailer websites we often find ourselves repackaging the information on a website so it can be integrated with other tools and services. The following is a list of integration points that can save you labor and smooth the rough edges of running your website.
Point-of-Sale POS integration is the nuts and bolts of maintaining an active wine website. To make the most of your website you will want to keep your product selection up to date, which doesn’t happen reliably unless this step is automated. POS Integration starts with the step of reading fresh inventory files from the POS and sending them up to the website.
With some POS systems it is also possible to import a file of web orders back into the POS. This file can be used simply to deplete the inventory from orders that occurred online, or the whole order can be processed through the POS. A further step of integration is to link customer accounts in the POS with website customer records. This might be done to identify loyalty program members who are eligible for targeted promotions. Some stores also upload their customers’ purchase histories from the POS, so this data can be combined with store purchases and mined to create targeted mailing lists for email campaigns.
Some websites charge a flat shipping rate based on the number of bottles and the recipient’s state. However, there is much greater flexibility from integrating with either FedEx or UPS. An online rate quote can automatically reference your negotiated rates and return prices based on specified service levels that include adult signature charges and fuel surcharges. After the order has been completed further integration allows you to generate shipping labels and tracking numbers without having to leave the website.
Credit Card and Age Verification
Some stores still process their website orders offline manually entering the credit card numbers for approval. However, in this day of heightened credit card security, online credit card gateways have become the processor of choice for most stores. Gateways can provide higher levels of validation by checking the billing address and CVV code while the order is being placed. This also saves you the labor of preparing an order in instances where the card has been declined.
If you want to ensure that your customers are of the legal drinking age, you can verify this by integrating a service that confirms name, address and date-of-birth against public documents. In addition to any legal protection against sting operations this might provide, this service adds another deterrent to potential fraudsters.
One of the primary activities of your website is to broadcast your inventory throughout the Internet. Some search engines and wine directory sites will find your site and use “spiders” to harvest information on your pages. However, to ensure your products are distributed widely you need to prepare regular updates for the wine directories and search engines. Additional marketing on shopping feeds require an inventory feed and marketing on Adwords can be integrated with inventory updates.
Taken together, these points of integration handle the heavy lifting of keeping your inventory updated, entering your shipping requests and promoting your inventory. Depending on the size of your operation, the labor savings might lighten your payroll, or, save your back.