As a home or kitchen retailer, your journey with the HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution must be seamless from start to finish.
Operating with disconnected systems can be a significant impediment to the successful rollout of a 3D planning solution, preventing you from getting the most out of your systems. Here is what you need to know to successfully integrate your 3D planning solution with your e-commerce and payment platforms.
Article developed in collaboration with INSPI, long-term integration partner of HomeByMe.
As a home or kitchen retailer, your journey with the HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution must be seamless from start to finish, just as it should be for a consumer. And integration of your back-office systems with the solution is the essential first step in this process, ensuring smooth operations and better customer experiences.
First, what do we mean by integrating your systems?
The HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution is just one component of a comprehensive project management flow for you, whether you are a home or kitchen retailer. Integration of the solution into the rest of your workflows ensures that data flows between the platform and your other back-end systems, enabling you to automate critical processes like quotations, payments, order fulfillment, inventory synchronization, promotions, manufacturing – if needed – logistics, financial reporting, and more.
Without integration, data must be manually transferred from one system to the next, which is laborious and can lead to errors, compromising on the customer experience and devaluing your investment in the platform. Automation has three benefits – reliability, speed and accuracy.
What does integration entail?
Once a consumer has finished creating the room or kitchen of their dreams using the HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution, the project moves onto your other IT systems to the next stages in the order fulfilment cycle: completion of the sale, trigger for manufacturing, delivery or installation, and other follow-up activities. So, the first question to ask is – what data and systems do we need to sync?
- The first task is to convert the beautiful graphics and designs that represent the customer’s vision into an order so that an accurate quotation can be presented to the customer in real time. This quotation might need to take into account tax calculations, which could differ across borders and products. It also needs to reflect promotions, discounts and other short-term price changes to provide customers with a running total of their project costs. This requires integration with inventory and financial management systems.
- Typically, the platform must integrate with your billing systems so that consumers can then proceed to your payment gateway. Some projects will be of high value, in which case you might want customers to pay just a deposit upon confirmation within the solution environment: this means that the solution must be integrated with your payment and cash management systems as well. The HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution can integrate with any type of billing gateway.
- Before confirming the order you will need to conduct a final stock check and notify customers if any of the items they have chosen are out of stock or discontinued. This requires connections between the solution and inventory management systems.
- Once an order is confirmed, it then needs to be sent on to manufacturers or OEMs for dispatch. In some cases, more commonly among kitchen orders, custom manufacturing will be needed, especially as every kitchen’s configuration is customized to the individual customer’s needs. This means that supplier or vendor management systems also need to be integrated.
- Your HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution is used not only by consumers but also by your own sales team. Sales experts would typically have a different level of authentication that enables them to pull up specific customers’ projects, during in-store consultations. They might also be empowered to offer special pricing. For your sales experts to access the platform via single sign-on or other organization-wide authentication, you will have to integrate the 3D planning solution with existing authentication systems. You might wish to adopt tiered access to ensure that only those with the right permissions are able to access customer projects.
- To ensure customers can keep track of their orders and are able to re-enter their saved designs to replace items that prove unsuitable after delivery, logistics needs to be integrated too.
Heterogenous legacy systems mean added complexity
Retailers generally have multiple types of legacy systems in place. These may have been built over a long period of time, involving different types of vendors, software and generations of systems. Sometimes, companies who have undergone mergers may have two different types of systems running side by side.
There is very little flexibility to change these existing billing and IT systems. So, it’s common to find situations where state-of-the-art systems like the HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution co-exists with legacy systems that have been in place for years, if not decades.
The most common methodology for integration is to create a middleware platform that links the platform to your ERP, cash, inventory, and other systems. This approach creates an API-layer between the existing legacy applications and the 3D planning solution. As legacy systems get gradually replaced, they can be integrated via the API layer to seamlessly integrate with the solution. This type of ‘agile’ approach brings immediate business value and is futureproof to extend to integration with other types of software, or upgrades to other systems over time.
The HomeByMe for Retailers 3D planning solution comes with the highest security certifications and is entirely cloud based. It has specifically been designed to offer easy integration with retailer systems. Built on web services, it minimizes the time needed to set up and be ready for deployment: retailers have the option of completing the integration independently or engaging with experts to do so. Thanks to longstanding relationships with well-established software integrators such as INSPI, HomeByMe can support home and kitchen retailers through the deployment and integration process.
There are many advantages to using dedicated expertise for integration, including quick rollout and 24×7 access to specialists. In-house retailer IT teams can then focus on their ongoing priorities while working closely with the experts to oversee smooth implementation.
Even though cloud-based 3D planning solutions are easy and affordable to deploy, there is a need to ensure effective integration that creates simple process flows across multiple systems which might not be homogenous. It is only effective integration that will deliver true return on your investment in any 3D planning solution over the long term. Advanced 3D planning solutions like those offered by HomeByMe have a pre-built integration process to help retailers go to market quickly, and can offer expertise and support in the installation and integration process.