Nearly 88 percent of Americans shop online at least nine times a year; 22 percent of those consumers buy something online one to three times a week.
For businesses that sell products online, a shopping cart is a must-have. But many businesses don’t know that shopping carts have uses that go beyond retail sales.
Smart companies use them to orchestrate internal distribution systems. For example, a retailer that needs to send supplies to its stores or an insurance company that wants to ship forms to its agents.
This sort of system is called Shopping Cart Integration. It combines virtual shopping carts with fulfillment software to create a system that automates the labor-intense process of shipping and handling and inventory management.
A professional fulfillment firm can create a customized Shopping Cart Integration system for a company.
It doesn’t always make sense for a company to handle its own distribution network. By outsourcing this function to a professional fulfillment firm, a company can avoid a number of expenses.
Man hours are decreased because the company no longer handles ordering, fulfillment and shipping. Because the fulfillment firm will store the goods and supplies that must be distributed, the company doesn’t have to buy or lease warehouse space.
Before fulfillment software was integrated with shopping carts, companies dedicated all or part of an employee’s time to overseeing the supply chain. With Shopping Cart Integration, much labor is eliminated because 80 percent of the process is automated.
Here are a few ways businesses that can use Shopping Cart Integration:
When fulfillment software is combined with shopping cart programs, a robust system is created. Here’s what these systems handle:
Here’s an example of how such a system would work:
Acme Corp. makes a widget that it must distribute to 10 regional locations. Acme Corp. contracts with a fulfillment firm, which uses Shopping Cart Integration to create an internal distribution system.
The fulfillment firm will store Acme Corp.’s widgets in a secure warehouse.
Acme Corp.’s regional directors have access to the customized system, where they can order the widgets they need. Orders come to the fulfillment firm, which pulls widgets from its warehouse, packages them and ships them. All ordering and shipping is done in real time so there is no need to collect orders for batch shipments. The widgets are shipped more quickly and efficiently.
Back at Acme Corp.’s headquarters, a staff member can access the system to monitor shipments. The staff member also receives emails about inventory at the warehouse. When inventory runs low, the system will automatically notify Acme Corp.. If widgets are back ordered, the system can generate notifications to the sales directors. Through the system, Acme Corp. can also monitor where the shipments are and how much is being spent to ship parts.
Because Shopping Cart Integration allows for so much customization, a company needs to allot time at the outset to work with a fulfillment firm on the customized design of its system. The initial set up is the most challenging aspect of Shopping Cart Integration. After the set up is complete, the system nearly runs itself, mechanizing 80 percent of the functions that were once handled by staff.
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