Integration benefits online retailing, survey says

Integration benefits online retailing, survey says

While world trends show a rush towards e-commerce solutions by retailers, significant numbers of US and European operators are finding it beneficial to integrate their online operations with legacy systems, a recent survey indicates. Meanwhile, the good news is that the costs of implementing online strategies are coming down.

The Consumer E-Commerce Markets across Europe and the US study, which was conducted by strategic analyst Datamonitor, surveyed retailers that have some sort of online transactional presence.

It revealed 34 per cent of European and US retailers claim to have integrated their online functionality with the companies' back-office systems such as inventory, accounts and customer databases and were gaining benefits.

According to Datamonitor analyst Caroline Magnusson, increasing competition between e-commerce solutions providers is lowering the cost of what have traditionally been expensive investments for retailers.

"The online ordering facility is becoming an integral part of the complete solution and hence nowadays carries a relatively low cost to the retailer," Magnusson said.

Datamonitor's analysis also showed 24 per cent claiming to have no intention of integrating operations while 70 per cent of respondents intend to do something by January 1, 2000.

Other information revealed by the survey showed that where retailers have multiple methods of taking orders, fax machines are still the most popular with consumers over e-mail, telephone, post and online ordering.

A healthy 33 per cent of respondents currently receive orders by fax with online ordering gaining in popularity and used by 23 per cent of those surveyed. Datamonitor's report considers it "crucial for retailers to set up functioning online ordering facilities", because efficiency is what makes online shoppers return.

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