How Integrated eCommerce is Key to Customization
An integrated stack is important for efficiency, automation, and differentiation.
In many cases, you don’t need a custom integration. Many services offer their own API or will connect their system to your website themselves.
However, a custom integration provides an opportunity for a faster, more efficient way to create a unique UX on your eCommerce website. In addition to leveraging a functionality already provided by the system you’re trying to integrate (as opposed to building the UX yourself, entirely from scratch), you can create a more integrated tech stack, automate data transfers, and improve website performance.
If you want to take your website a step further and have the resources to do so, you should consider the benefit of a custom system integration.
A Plug-and-Play System Integration Versus Custom
Plug and Play
“Plug and play” is a simple method of integration that can be completed in a matter of minutes. Usually, it involves taking a snippet of code provided by the system itself, and embedding it on your website. For example, if you’re trying to connect your Mailchimp email marketing tool with your Wordpress website, Mailchimp provides both an API and a snippet code that you can embed directly on your webpage.
Or, if you’re working from a website platform like Shopify or Squarespace, your platform may even provide you with pre-built widgets, where connecting external systems is as easy as flipping a switch.
"Plug and play" is easy, and one of the benefits of modern website technology that enables website administrators to have even more control over their online presence. For smaller websites that don’t require anything more complicated than a Squarespace website and a few basic tools (email marketing system, payment gateway, analytics) connected to their website, it’s a great option.
A custom integration allows connected systems to go even further and “talk” to each other, communicating on a more sophisticated level. As opposed to just passing data between each other, they can have different responses to different commands, and simultaneously interact with other systems—not just one to one.
Custom integrations require advanced development, and are usually made from modified or newly created APIs, or enabled through middleware.
How Custom Integrations Can Improve Efficiency
Plug-and-play is cost effective and takes little time, but it also is very restrictive about dictating how your systems pass data to each other. For more advanced websites (usually run by much larger businesses) that have a custom website that they need to communicate data across a wider assortment of much larger, complex tools—CRM, ERP, accounting software—plug-and-play is still an option, but it’s not the best option.
Here’s an example. An order is submitted through a website. Unbeknownst to the user, the checkout they just used is actually a payment gateway that the merchant utilizes to offload securely hosting the customer’s sensitive information. As the order is processed through the payment system, their information is then passed on to a middleware, which sends out pieces of the customer’s information to 3 additional systems: a CRM where it can be analyzed by sales, an accounting software, and an ERP.
Manually inputting that data for thousands of different orders every day would be overwhelming, and creating that kind of integrated system without custom work would be impossible. Which is why many larger businesses turn to custom integrations in order to increase the efficiency of their backend processes.
Why an Integrated Marketing Strategy is Important
To have an “integrated” marketing strategy just means to have your tools connected—this can mean both plug-and-play and a custom API. The difference between a successfully integrated tech stack and an unsuccessfully integrated stack isn’t the way they’re integrated, it’s the intent behind them.
Don’t sell yourself short. Technology is flexible, and can be built and customized to do what you want it to do. You can build whatever you want, and most of the work has been done for you because these tools are available. Connecting them is just step one.