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Today we welcome Chloé Rose Whitmore from blubolt partner Patchworks to the blog!
The ubiquity of online shopping has made the competition between ecommerce stores fiercer than ever. It’s not enough to just have a great product anymore. Nowadays, every step of your customer’s journey needs to be perfectly executed to keep them coming back.
To keep up in this competitive online market, brands have had to level up their digital infrastructures, adopting a whole host of new tech – from ecommerce platforms and CRMs to ERPs and marketing apps. But as these siloed systems start to amass heaps of disconnected data, things can start to fall through the cracks – leading to missed orders, technical headaches and poor customer service. To maximise your tech systems and meet ever-increasing customer expectations, your apps need to be connected.
That’s where an iPaaS like Patchworks comes in.
Patchworks is an iPaaS (integration platform as a service). This is a cloud-based platform that allows you to automate the flow of data across your company’s different systems – whether that’s an ecommerce platform, ERP, CRM, warehouse system, marketplace, marketing app, POS system or a 3PL. Instead of manually moving data between half a dozen disconnected systems, Patchworks acts as a central hub for your software. It’s a place for your systems to share the information you decide needs to be shared, when you decide they should share it.
By providing a single centralised platform to create and manage data flows, Patchworks gives users an easy, cost-efficient way to streamline and scale their operations.
By using a host of different systems that don’t communicate, companies gradually accrue data silos. While small businesses can manually input data from one app into another, growing businesses quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of data that needs moving. Issues like overselling, poor order fulfilment and costly resources can all be traced back to a lack of – or poorly executed – integration.
Without an iPaaS like Patchworks, businesses are left with three options:
This is how most businesses start out, and can be fine for a short while. However, when your business grows and you adopt more systems, manually inputting this much data becomes infeasible. Not only does it limit your company’s growth, but it also leads to a whole host of problems, from costly mistakes and human error to overwhelmed resources and fulfilment issues. At some point, integration isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessity.
A point-to-point integration refers to a connector that ‘points’ one app at another. This allows them to synchronise data such as inventory, orders, products and customers. Each system you’d like to connect requires its own connector, with no central hub to manage the different integrations – which means that, if there’s an issue (such as a failed sync or an outage), it can be difficult to find out where that issue originated. These connectors are also very basic, with no scope for bespoke functionalities. While they can be a fast, cheap fix for smaller businesses, point-to-point integration isn’t a good long-term solution.
Instead of outsourcing to an integration partner, some companies choose to manage their integrations in-house. Although it offers brands full control over their ecosystem, an in-house integration is a huge undertaking. Not only is it complex and time-consuming to set up, but it requires constant maintenance, which can put a strain on your IT department. It also limits flexibility when it comes to adopting new systems or territories, which can stall your company’s growth.
While small companies can get on fine manually inputting data or using point-to-point connectors, there comes a time in every company’s growth when an iPaaS becomes essential.
Rather than logging into multiple different systems, the Patchworks platform acts as mission control for your core business services. By having a single dashboard to connect all your critical software, you can manage your integrations, schedule syncs, troubleshoot issues and view support tickets – all in one place.
As your brand grows and new challenges arise, the Patchworks platform gives you the flexibility to swap out and plug in new apps. Designed to be fully agile, you can remove systems from your integration as soon as they stop meeting your needs, swapping them out for something better suited to your brand – without wasting months in development.
By eliminating the need for manual data inputting, the Patchworks iPaaS saves your team hours of data entry. And with a team of integration specialists managing your connections, it also frees up your IT team from investigating technical issues.
One of the key benefits to the Patchworks iPaaS is the ability to automate your data, keeping your entire business up-to-date at all times. Through scheduled data syncs and real-time inventory figures, your ecommerce store and POS systems will always have accurate stock figures – no matter how busy your store gets.
With automated data syncs, Patchworks makes order fulfilment fast, efficient, and easier than ever before. Even during those peak sales times that flood your site with orders, your warehouse will have all the information they need to dispatch orders quickly and accurately. And with no risk of human error, there’ll be fewer mistakes harming your profit margins.
Patchworks powers some of the world’s biggest brands, with a platform that’s stress-tested to handle tens of thousands of orders an hour. With 99.99% uptime and the ability to process over a million syncs in a single day, the possibilities for growth are endless.
Patchworks isn’t just a platform: it’s a partner. Throughout your project and beyond, our integration experts are on hand to offer their expertise and help your brand grow. This can range from advice about which systems to adopt or help in creating bespoke functionalities within your integration.
With a smoother service and faster, more accurate order fulfilment, Patchworks gives brands the power and support they need to offer customers a flawless shopping experience – even when there’s thousands of them. Which means, best of all, that those customers come back – again and again.
After thousands of successful launches with hundreds of brands, we’ve distilled the integration process into four key steps.
Before anything else can happen, it’s important to know which systems are being integrated. Sometimes, brands know exactly what they want. They know which systems they’d like to integrate, how they’d like them to work together, and what they need from an integration platform in the long run. But not always. Often, brands approach us with a core system – such as an ecommerce platform like Shopify Plus – and need guidance when it comes to deciding which other systems they should adopt and integrate to better manage their business. Luckily, we can help with that. We work with the world’s best-of-breed apps for retail. As such, we’re well-positioned to help you find the right software for your business.
Once you’ve identified the need for an iPaaS, been in touch with our team and established which systems will be integrated, we’ll arrange a kick-off meeting. This meeting typically covers the scope of the work that needs to be delivered and the recommended timeframes. It allows everyone involved in the project to agree on its direction and how it will be managed going forward. If you’re working with an ecommerce agency like blubolt, they’ll be a part of the meeting too.
In this initial stage, we’ll also map out all of the services that need to be automated in the project. Once you’re happy and everything’s signed off, we’ll get to work.
The Patchworks engineering team will configure, customise and deploy the integrations outlined in the engage phase. Once this work has been done, our senior engineers will test and sign off the integration, making sure it follows the requirements laid out in the kick-off meeting.
During this stage, we’ll keep in touch with your team and any relevant third parties, to ensure the project stays on track.
Once your integrations are ready, we’ll guide you and any relevant third parties through the user acceptance testing (UAT) process. We’ll provide an initial test plan that can be customised to your specific requirements. Then, our team will collaborate with you throughout the testing stage, which follows a fluid snagging process to make sure any changes or fixes are made quickly and efficiently.
After the UAT has been signed off, we work with you and your partners to coordinate a smooth, seamless launch. This includes a step-by-step cutover plan and optional hyper-care support.
Voila! Your iPaaS is ready to go.
Once your project is live and your data is moving smoothly, we’ll continue to support your brand’s growth. From basic maintenance to enterprise support, we’ll tailor a monthly support package to your brand’s needs.
We’re thrilled to have blubolt as a Patchworks partner! By working together directly, we can help blubolt clients create a Shopify Plus store that’s pre-integrated with their core business apps. This enables brands to deliver a flawless customer experience from day one.
Just like we did with Robert Welch Designs.
When premium homeware brand Robert Welch decided to use blubolt to launch a brand new Shopify Plus store, they knew they’d need an integration for their ERP. While blubolt took care of revamping their website, we connected Robert Welch’s new Shopify Plus store with Khaos Control. With custom functionalities like age verification and multicurrency, we created a bespoke integration that works exactly how Robert Welch needed it too.
Unlike a lot of industries, ecommerce has boomed in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. As physical stores closed their doors, more people turned to online shopping than ever before. This left some brands scrambling to make sure their online store was up to the job – which means Patchworks has been busier than ever.
Like all businesses, Patchworks has faced challenges as a result of the pandemic – but we’ve also been extremely lucky. With most of our clients being at least partially reliant on ecommerce, 2020 has been a year of unexpected growth. We’re happy to be able to continue to offer a stellar experience for our customers throughout these uncertain times, helping them establish an IT ecosystem that’s ready to handle all those extra online orders.
The Patchworks iPaaS gives brands the power and flexibility they need to grow their business in 2020. Get in touch today to learn more about how the Patchworks platform can solve your integration problems and transform your business, or talk to blubolt about launching a pre-integrated Shopify Plus store.
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