Guest Column | November 7, 2022

Improving Holiday Resiliency And Efficiency By Filling Non-Transactional Automation Gaps

By Mark Simon, Celigo

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The holiday season is the most critical time of the year for online retailers. Increased website traffic, customer volume, and sales put everything in e-commerce to the test, including systems, processes, customer experience tools, and employee support resources. By now, most organizations have already completed the transactional integrations and automation that underpin these functions and are in a code freeze through the end of the year. With large-scale operational improvements largely in-flight, retailers that want to succeed this holiday season and exceed consumer expectations should be identifying and addressing gaps in their non-transactional infrastructure.

Non-transactional integrations and automation are considered low-risk, high-return because they focus primarily on communication, synchronization, and data to improve the customer experience. This has proven to be more important than ever as we emerge from the pandemic because of the growing number of merchants who can fulfill orders efficiently and cost-effectively. For retailers to separate themselves from the competition in 2022, they must be resilient, efficient, and agile. Let’s explore three opportunities to reduce operational costs and improve organizational productivity with non-transactional automation.

Monitoring And Reporting

While typically considered a heavy lift that involves implementing complex processes and dashboards, monitoring and reporting can take many different forms. It can often be distilled into something as simple as having visibility into the work environments and tools teams are using to fulfill orders to enhance the consumer experience. An example of this is having the appropriate integrations in place to easily search for and identify support tickets for high lifetime value customers and communicate those issues to team members in their preferred channels, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email. By understanding the tools people are using and having the necessary integrations in place to support them, retailers can see which issues need to be escalated to ensure a high-priority customer’s order meets the company’s fulfillment standard efficiently. This frees up resources and reduces the amount of human interaction needed to complete an order.

Synchronization From ERP To Customer Support Channels

Retailers can further improve operational efficiency this holiday season by taking key transaction and fulfillment data and pushing out of their ERP to syncronize with other support methods. Examples of these automation include CRM platforms such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Zendesk. These enable organizations to optimize their data, assess the information for a trigger or event, and simplify the next step in the process for even the least tech-savvy user. High-efficiency teams utilize integrations to bring accurate, up-to-date information to their team members rather than requiring them to reconfigure their individual workflow. An example could be integration as simple as bringing a single field, such as customer lifetime value, from the ERP or order management system out to the support platform to help prioritize high-value customers. This allows retail organizations to adapt to customer needs with speed and without incorporating additional manual processes.

Effectively Managing Errors To Handle Holiday Volume

While the goal for every retailer is to provide consumers with the perfect order each time they complete a transaction, the reality is that errors will occur – especially during periods of increased traffic and volume. One of the key components of a successful holiday season is the ability of organizations to effectively manage these errors. This can be complex, and even intimidating, given heightened customer expectations and the prevalence of omni-channel retailing. It requires the right approach, and with non-transactional integrations, organizations ensure the necessary information is instantly available for the appropriate person to take the proper actions to resolve. Having the right data in the right place makes error handling simpler and more efficient by streamlining the process from a support ticket to resolution. In addition to reducing the costs and time associated with disruptions and returns, effectively managing errors improves the customer experience and fosters long-term relationships by making each interaction as positive as possible.

A successful holiday season will ultimately come down to an organization’s fundamental preparation, which begins soon after the end of the previous year. Despite months of transactional integration implementation and testing, certain areas within the business process are overlooked. Non-transactional integrations empower retailers to fill in existing automation gaps and overcome ongoing pain points during the holiday season code freeze. These approaches are low risk because they do not directly impact the financial data and focus on improving information sharing within an organization to increase efficiency. They also allow business leaders to better inform their automation roadmap for the future holiday seasons by gathering direct feedback from their IT teams during the most stressful time of the year. The best e-commerce organizations are thinking of ways to improve their foundational preparation without impacting ongoing operations, and leveraging non-transactional automation empowers them to do both.

About The Author

Mark Simon is the Vice President of Strategy at Celigo. With over two decades of experience in the tech industry, Mark has spent his time leading teams at several different companies, such as Explore Consulting and Evo, where he served as Chief Technology Officer.