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Don't duplicate; integrate!

Why is having data all over the shop likely to be damaging your business? And how can integrating it help?

Don't duplicate; integrate! image

Why hello there, it’s Zarte again. Yes, I know – more irritating than that singing insurance man.

I’m not going to make any bones about the themes of these blog articles. We would very much like you to buy our Business Data Toolkit. But only because to us, it’s the perfect answer to so many questions we get asked all the time. Seriously – ALL the time.

This one’s all about making the best use of your data. And your time. And your staff. Basically of your whole business – but about how to do it through integration. Let me set the scene.

Mr. Smith is placing an order on your website. He’s a new customer, and so he fills in your new customer sign-up form. This information goes to Tom, who handles customer data. He puts it into your pretty database, or, heaven forbid... a spreadsheet... oh the horror. He then places an order for one of your products. At this point this wanders in two directions. The order itself goes to Dick in sales. He makes a note of the order, and any gubbins required around the payment details. Now, either he passes that order onto the warehouse, or perhaps you have an automated system to do it. However, Harry now picks up that order. He puts the order into his system, ticks off the stock, and tries to pass it on to whoever does the picking and packing to get the product to the customer.

All runs like clockwork, right? Well, OK, sure, it might do SOMETIMES. But I guarantee you’re getting mistakes. And even if you’re not, how much human involvement do you need? There are so many better uses of your staff’s time!

See, Tom’s got to take the new customer data and put it somewhere to be reused. But if he makes a bit of a slip and writes the wrong thing, you might struggle to ever find that customer again in a sea of “Mr. Smiths” – surely a system that takes Mr. Smith’s name and puts it straight into its own database would be more efficient. Tom could get on with dealing with other things, rather than being an overpaid data entry clerk.

Dick on the other hand has a big list of everything purchased. But he puts in the details of the people who bought them, totally differently to Tom. So when you’re trying to target some advertising to Mr. Smith, or when Mr. Smith tries to make an order by phone and says “I’ll have another of what I ordered before” – there’s no easy way of combining the 2 and finding out what he’s after! Surely it’d be easier to have something that automatically put Mr. Smith’s order with his contact details and built up a consumer profile that could be accessed as one piece of information at any time?

Harry meanwhile has to find the information about who Mr. Smith is, to give to the people sending off his package. But who does he get the details off? Dick might have his order AND his payment details, does Tom have any information he might need? Surely Harry’d be better off having all the information in one place to look at. He’s finally sorted it out, only to see that... ah. Oh dear. He’s being called by someone who’s telling him that they don’t have any of that product in stock... Harry forgot to cross one off on his system last time it was ordered. And no new ones have been ordered. Mr. Smith might have to wait a while... human error... oh dear.

Now, if there were a system that allowed an order to be taken, with both the customer details, and the order going to one place, which then talked to a stock system automatically to check that it was in stock, removing one from the total upon purchase, and if it were out of stock, potentially automatically putting in an order for a new one? Wouldn’t that be better? That’s what integration is about. Stopping human error spoiling your business practices. And potentially saving you a fortune on overheads. And staff costs.

Sure, maybe you don’t have a warehouse, but the principles are still the same. Why have your data in 5 different places when you can have one dedicated system? Why not have a think about it, and then – when you come to our conclusion that integration is DEFINITELY for the best, give us a call, and see how we can help your business achieve a greater level of efficiency.

Until next time,

Zarte