The days of running businesses via Visual Basic-created software installed on the one office machine are almost over. Small businesses require the flexibility of running their operations ‘on the cloud’. This is simply a term for ‘on the internet’. Here your data isn’t stored locally on that office machine which might unfortunately suffer a hard-drive failure, be taken in a break-in or destroyed in a fire. Instead your sales and customer information is stored in a secure data centre and spread across a variety of expertly-managed servers.
In a conventional sense you could realistically see the management of your stock, orders and delivery as ‘pick, pack, and ship’ software, but what we offer is so much more.
In the early days ecommerce websites were typically built using a version of Actinic Catalogue which would require the installation of software which would also create databases on your machine. This was heavy duty stuff. You would have to take regular backups on old Zip drives – if you couldn’t afford a CD writer. You would have to load each product manually, edit its information and photos within the software. You would also have ensure you’ve got your FTP permissions set up correctly, and tweak various settings that you really didn’t know what they did. Orders were emailed to you with a note to say that you need to open up the software to get your customers’ credit card details – which you would then need to tap into the EPOS terminal as a ‘customer not present’.
Running an online business is a great deal more secure and efficient process today. There are a variety online store builder services such as Shopify, Big Commerce, Joomla, OsCommerce, Magento and the like which allow you to create very effective eCommerce stores within a few hours – and allow you to manage the store wherever you may be in the world and at your own pace. You can even edit product photos on the internet with the likes of Pixlr, FotoFlexer and iPiccy.
The one aspect that, until recently, has been a mill-stone around the necks of many online business owners has been the fact that they’re often tied to a warehouse and the cumbersome fulfilment software that often goes with it. It was difficult to work remotely as you had to manage an endless stream of goods in and warehouse staff. Moving to the ‘cloud’ removes that need to be tied to the office. You can let go of the pick, pack and shipping process by simply moving your stock into an outsourced eCommerce fulfilment service such as Cloud Fulfilment.
The benefits of outsourcing, letting go of the archaic and out-dated software approach and moving to the cloud are plentiful:
- You don’t have to handle each and every order – or hire people to do it.
- You’ve got almost-unlimited flexibility. If you want multiple your stock levels by ten or a hundred-fold then that’s not a problem. If you want to de-stock, similarly that’s not a problem.
- You can greatly reduce picking errors because of the great investments we’ve made into our own systems and procedures.
- You can take advantage of reduced shipping costs as we bulk buy with the couriers and pass the savings onto you.
- Your data is secure – you don’t have to worry about all of your customer orders being stored in the office, on the internet they’re located behind significant amounts of security.
- You can manage the business when you want. If you wake in the middle of the night and decide to tweak your pricing, which notifications you would like to receive or arrange for new stock to go into the website, you can, and very easily so.
- You have much greater flexibility and control – your ecommerce store can often be modified with plugins. This will allow you to get your store working as you wish, and typically, without the need for expensive web designers.
- You can connect your website with other services easily. For example, Cloud Fulfilment customers can have their products automatically added to Amazon, eBay and Play.com – at no extra charge from us.
The point is that online store owners should change their perception that fulfilment is run by some megalithic, expensive software that requires expertly trained staff on big salaries. Business owners can take control of the pick, pack and shipping process themselves, or let someone else set some options and get the stock into the warehouse. You can concentrate on growing your business and we’ll help getting your products to your customers quickly, easily and cheaply.