Software Gaps Could Hinder Black Friday Ecommerce Boom
Retailers and e-commerce startups have been warned that Black Friday and festive shopping rushes could end up hurting their operations instead of benefiting them.
E-commerce experts say thousands of enthusiastic retailers – including an army of Amazon and eBay stores created during the pandemic – are ill-prepared and must proceed with extreme caution for fear of being trapped by software loopholes .
Gillian Livingstone, COO of East Kilbride-based cloud software expert Eureka Solutions, said: “This is a trap that many e-commerce companies fall into. People assume new digital tools mean it will be easy. They let themselves be lulled by a false optimism.
“It is true that there are brilliant software tools for accounting, bookkeeping, customer acquisition, order tracking, and so on. Each of them can be transformative in their own right.
“The problem is that these tools rarely talk to each other or integrate particularly well. We spend our professional lives dealing with entrepreneurs and business people who hoped for a smooth and hassle-free digital business, only to then get bogged down in these issues.
“In the worst case scenario, they end up employing staff or even teams of people to manually transfer information between different business critical applications, which defeats the overall goal.”
The problems don’t just affect behind-the-scenes operations, Livingstone said they can also cause a wide range of problems for customers, which can be catastrophic for online and e-commerce operators.
She added: “Common issues are that items will appear to be in stock, but when it comes to ordering they are not which is extremely frustrating for buyers. Another problem is the promise of timely delivery, when in fact that is not possible.
“Online sellers only have one chance. These types of issues ensure that a customer will never come back. It’s the equivalent of going to a corner store only to be greeted by disorganized shelves, overworked staff, and a lack of customer service.
Livingstone is concerned that Black Friday and this year’s festive rushes will be particularly painful for a cohort of new online sellers, who have started selling on eBay, or on platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, during the pandemic.
She added: “There are thousands of people who have lost or quit their jobs due to Covid and have started online stores because eBay and other platforms offer fantastic tools and incentives. But when sales kick into high gear, so do the challenges of tracking orders, invoices, and fulfillment.
“Black Friday and the holiday season offer the allure of incredible sales, but for many it’s more likely to be a painful lesson in the reality of how much can go wrong.”
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