How Integrated Reporting Can Help Grow Your eCommerce Business
The Internet has facilitated the emergence of a range of new businesses while helping many established enterprises to expand to new heights. Websites naturally help businesses raise awareness about their brands, but they can also function as secure eCommerce systems that enable automated order placement and payment processing. Many businesses have already implemented eCommerce; however, today's digital world requires enterprises seeking competitive advantage to implement these systems as effectively as possible. Transaction and reconciliation reporting is a key dimension of eCommerce that businesses can optimize to realize value in today's marketplace.
What Is Transaction and Reconciliation Reporting?
Whether through the use of a simple spreadsheet or an advanced ERP system, every business must keep detailed and accurate tabulations of transaction activity to ensure profitability, prevent fraud, and identify areas for improvement. Many businesses normally have to wait days or weeks before transaction information becomes available, but the purely electronic nature of eCommerce means that accurate reconciliation information can be made immediately available. When actionable transaction intelligence becomes available so responsively, businesses can leverage this information to immediately adapt decision-making, customer interactions, and order fulfillment processes. Transaction and reconciliation reporting, therefore, can function as a sustainable basis of competitive advantage for businesses in most industries.
Businesses seeking to take full advantage of eCommerce reporting will need to start by developing a thorough understanding of the information that can be made available. Recent legislation restricts the usage of certain customer information, and there are also complex rules describing how this sensitive data must be stored and sent. Therefore, most businesses choose to use a third-party transaction processing platform that takes care of data management and restricts available information to the limits of the law. Card information is restricted to some extent, but most of the useful data can be utilized, such as billing information, order details, and metadata about the customer's browser. Payment processors also offer information to confirm that a payment has been successfully approved and finalized.
Working with APIs
Payment processors like CyberSource and Authorize.Net generally make customer data available through Application Programming Interfaces. APIs simplify the development of systems for incorporating transaction data into other business activities. These interfaces allow other programs to request specific information, such as the quantity of an order, when it is needed to make a decision. In addition to making the utilization of eCommerce data less expensive, APIs also reduce the amount of information that needs to be stored in other locations. Therefore, APIs are ideal for business applications because they reduce the chances of losing a copy of customer information during a data breach.
Importance of Automating Reconciliation
Many businesses that attempt to make use of eCommerce reporting use manual methods of utilizing the data their transaction system makes available. For example, a business owner might download a spreadsheet of all transaction data from the day before, manually delete fields that appear sensitive, and email the raw data to the production manager to initiate the manufacturing process. In addition to being insecure, the entrepreneur would be wasting valuable time on a daily basis. Furthermore, this process would neglect the opportunities available by incorporating the data into ERP systems for usage throughout the enterprise. Businesses seeking to get the most out of transaction reconciliation reporting, therefore, must automate the utilization of this data to get the best results.
Setting Up the Payment System
To realize the full benefits of eCommerce reporting, businesses must set up the right payment system from the start. Enterprises should start by evaluating the wide range of solutions available in the market, and consider how these might complement organizational needs. It is also critical to have the payment system set up by an experienced professional. Doing so will help to reveal data utilization opportunities that are only intuitive to an expert. eCommerce payment systems are generally implemented by first fully developing the front-end shopping cart platform, and then by developing back-end systems to utilize the data made available by the finished system.
Front-End Shopping Cart
The shopping cart platform is what customers will interact with when they go to make a purchase. Significant work is required on the back-end to enable the front-end system to operate effectively, but payment processors include tools that eliminate most of this workload. Design, branding, and marketing are critical considerations for an effective front-end eCommerce system. Important marketing considerations might include search engine optimization, landing pages, and social media integration. Businesses should carefully consider options for scalability when choosing and developing their eCommerce platform. Enterprise and B2B eCommerce business will require a platform that is built for customization so that special payment workflows can be accommodated, and integration to all key business systems is a must.
Back-End Data Utilization
Software developed on the back-end can often be more complex than with front-end systems because businesses vary widely in their software usage. Integration with existing programs might require working with a developer. Proprietary systems may need to be modified extensively to make use of the responsive data available from transaction reports. However, businesses are generally much better off once they have successfully finished the back-end implementation process because these systems can continue to yield a return on investment for years to come.
How Clarity Can Help
Clarity eCommerce is a leading digital shopping cart platform that includes a wide range of features designed to simplify the utilization of data from transaction and reconciliation reporting. Since the platform is designed with back-end integration in mind, businesses can enjoy more accessible data utilization across their enterprise. Information available from the customizable Clarity platform can be used to improve many aspects of business, including sales processes, marketing campaigns, fulfillment processes, and more. Clarity even has a team of experienced developers specialized in developing custom systems to meet the specific data needs of clients. Get in touch with Clarity today to learn more about how eCommerce transaction data can be leveraged to improve business processes.