E-commerce has emerged as the fastest growing business model globally predicted to rise to a $4 trillion industry by 2020. Before getting into the details of e-commerce software let us be clear on what defines e-commerce. E-commerce is the selling and buying of products or services using the internet and transfer of money to avail these transactions through an e-commerce platform.
Which brings us to the next question, do you need to have products in stock to carry out an e-commerce business? The answer is no. Drop-shipping has revolutionized the e-commerce business model and enables a seller to sell products without keeping inventory. Which is precisely what a value-added reseller does albeit traditionally.
In spite of the many benefits and the profitability of e-commerce, not a lot of value-added IT resellers are adapting to the change. One of the biggest reasons for this that I see is the non-availability of e-commerce software that fulfills all the requirements of a value-added reseller. Choosing the best e-commerce software will be one of the most critical decisions, you as a value-added reseller will make.
What is e-commerce software?
E-commerce software, in its simplest forms, enables a business or an individual to sell products and services online. It is the customer-facing front end of an online business, i.e. your online store. E-commerce businesses like any other, need additional software to manage their back-end processes like accounting, warehouse inventory, order management, and customer data. Integration between these two software solutions is the difference between success and failure.
Traditionally, businesses had to purchase stand-alone e-commerce software that required specialized development teams to handle the extensive IT set-up. These solutions were costly and time-consuming to integrate with the back-end systems.
A new breed of e-commerce software services has emerged that integrate e-commerce with back-end functionalities to increase efficiencies and create personalized online experiences. This e-commerce software has benefited not only the IT and office supplies VARs but is a great e-commerce software solution for small businesses as well.
VARStreet is a software solution built specifically for the IT VAR which seamlessly integrates back-end functionalities of a VAR with e-commerce solutions.
Key E-commerce Features for a VAR
Integration and Automation
All e-commerce software platforms enable customers to buy online, where they differ and fail is to address the needs of an IT VAR, whose very core business need is integration with their existing accounting, CRM and ERP solutions. Automated e-commerce to back-end integration reduces the risk of repetition and increases efficiencies in business processes.
Robust Product Catalog
A VAR business is heavily dependent on its distributors. Procuring product catalogs from multiple distributors and their XML integration with your systems is a lengthy and costly process. The best e-commerce platforms available do offer distributor product catalog plugins, but they come at a heavy cost. An e-commerce platform which is customized for you, the IT and office supplies value-added reseller, should offer this feature by default.
The VARStreet e-commerce platform comes with an aggregated catalog of 35 major IT and office supplies distributors. The aggregated product catalog gets updated daily to offer real-time price and inventory of 35 distributors which will help you to always price products right and increase your profit margins.
A personalized and customized experience enhances the overall satisfaction of a customer’s online experience resulting in the lifetime value of a customer. A cross-channel view of customer data creates personalized experiences. This reiterates the need for integration between the e-commerce software and back end processes.
B2B and B2C Types of E-commerce
E-commerce businesses can be broken down into 6 types out of which a VAR would typically be a B2B and/or a B2C. The needs of a B2B e-commerce business would differ from those of a B2C. An e-commerce software that does not address the needs of both VARs would again fall short. A B2B VAR has different payment terms, shipping terms, processing requirements, contract stipulations, quoting requirements etc. with different customers. An e-commerce solution for a B2B should address all these demands for it to be profitable to the B2B VAR.
VARStreet XC Solution is the number one sales quoting and e-commerce solution for IT and office supplies VARS and it addresses the needs of B2B e-commerce as well.
The Advantages of E-commerce for an IT and Office Supplies VAR
Speeds up the buying process
E-commerce speeds up the buying process as opposed to going back and forth with quotations, asking for product images and description etc.
A customer can easily go online and visit your e-commerce store, search for products, read the product descriptions and compare before deciding. This also saves the time of your sales rep and they can focus on customer acquisition and relationship building.
Your e-commerce store is open 24/7
An e-commerce store offers customers more flexibility to buy products at any time, outside of your business hours. Automated processes between your ERP and the e-commerce platform sends orders directly to your distributors for fulfillment. You will not lose a sale because your physical business was shut, nor are you geographically limited.
Avoid human error
With an e-commerce store, you reduce the chances of human error. Products are available on your store for customers to view and detailed product descriptions make it easier for them to decide and buy.
Author’s Bio: Shane Emerson is an American writer for various digital news publications. After being in the e-commerce industry for more than 15 years, Shane has a good understanding of what it takes to make an e-commerce business successful. He likes to cover newsworthy events related to business management software, customer relationship management (CRM) and Quoting software and Value Added Resellers. His articles give insights into the latest trends in the B2C and B2B e-commerce industry. His e-commerce coverage is robust and provides everything from the best e-commerce platform to improving your website site.
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