When we founded Pipe17 in 2019, we set out on a mission to address a huge source of pain for the entire ecommerce industry – the order-to-fulfillment process. As former members of the world of enterprise software, we saw that ecommerce businesses were lacking enabling technology that was common to enterprise businesses. The availability of modern cloud platforms, microservices, plug and play connectivity, and automated workflow made it possible to provide a solution that even small businesses could take advantage of.
Ecommerce businesses must have their selling, fulfillment and back office applications all working together in lockstep to process orders, update inventory, get fulfillment information back to customers, and keep financial records up to date. Orders need to flow seamlessly with touchless processing in the face of omnichannel selling and high order volumes.
However, getting to this ideal state is anything but easy. Why? There are several intertwined problems that must be solved:
- The Connectivity Problem – Ecommerce businesses have many applications that all need to continuously exchange order data and relay real-time inventory. Each application has a unique API with its own characteristics, some more sophisticated than others. Compounding the problem further is that APIs regularly change as they are updated.
- A Routing Problem – Orders come from many places and need to go to many places depending on a variety of conditions such as SKU, item availability, buyer location, cost etc. In addition it may sometimes be necessary to split orders like in the case of a bundled product or kit – and then reassemble them.
- A Transformation Problem – Along this journey, data within the orders may need to be adjusted depending on a variety of conditions and application specific requirements. For example, take the case of delivery options or of products going from an ASIN to a SKU.
- A Visibility Problem – Ecommerce businesses need to be able to see what is going on with their orders, ideally in real-time, as they progress through their workflows. Businesses also need to be alerted when something goes wrong so they can take action to fix the problem, rather than wait for customers to let them know.
- A Performance Problem – Ecommerce orders aren’t received in neatly timed daily batches, so how can ecommerce businesses run at peak performance if they aren’t operating at the speed of transactions? Omnichannel inventory updates must stay in sync with order fulfillments, otherwise bad things start to happen, like stockouts.
Today all of these different capabilities are lumped into the generic bucket of “Integrations”. Our industry needs to change that.
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Lumping the solution to all of these challenges as merely an integration problem obfuscates what is actually going on. In doing so, this traditional approach puts the solution out of reach for mere mortals and into the hands of an army of expensive consultants. They charge in, armed with expensive complicated tools that are not purpose-built to solve these problems.
It doesn’t have to be this way. But first we need to start looking at the problem in a more granular way. In a more ecommerce centric way. In a way that empowers everyone, not just technical and development teams, to take ownership and control. In a way that invites new insights and new solutions.
Order Operations Defined
This is Order Operations, the stuff that sits between all your applications that is slowing down your business and costing you time, money and headaches.
Order Operations is the collection of key capabilities that orchestrates order-to-anywhere data flows between various software platforms, headless (like our fellow MACH Alliance members) or otherwise. Optimizing order operations is key to balancing growth, profitability and customer experience for any omnichannel ecommerce business.
We invite you to browse our new website to learn more about our mission to help ecommerce businesses optimize their Order Operations so they can easily balance cost, growth and customer experience.
More to follow.