If you expect your employees to work together, why should your business software get a pass? Collaborative teams are critical to running a successful business, whether it's ecommerce, brick-and-mortar, a small shop or a retail empire. Like a well-oiled machine, once those teams get into a rhythm, rewarding outcomes are practically assured.
Unfortunately, many small business merchants don't look for the same coordination in their software environments that they expect from their workers. And that often creates a lot of inefficiency in the form of duplicated effort, lost time and missed customer service opportunities.
NChannel, a Columbus, Ohio-based business software company, specializes in creating the connective tissue that links a retailer's various software silos (accounting, inventory, point-of-sale and ecommerce). The result is a retail software foundation that works as a harmonious whole.
NChannel, a multichannel retailing IT platform.
Helmed by CEO Steve Weber, nChannel provides "a series of connectors that let you tie your ecommerce system to your point-of-sale system to your accounting system," he told Small Business Computing. Adding dash of cloud computing completes the company's multichannel management solution; it keeps all the moving parts of a brick-and-mortar and ecommerce operations in sync and on the same page, while producing business insights that can help retailers fine-tune their sales efforts.
All-for-One Business Software
Drawing from his experiences at a small business value-added reseller (VAR) for Microsoft, which involved helping merchants implement point-of-sale systems, Weber realized that to drive revenue in an efficient and effect way, businesses software solutions "need to work together better," not just volley data back and forth like a virtual tennis match. So in 2011, Weber created nChannel.
Today, nChannel's connectors link leading point-of-sale, accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms, tying the pieces together into a multichannel retail management. Together with the cloud, nChannel's tech lets businesses manage their product data and optimize their supply chains.
The nChannel CXM application helps ensure great customer experiences with service level monitoring and advanced order history, tracking, shipping and returns. Finally, the company's Business Intelligence (BI) app delivers critical insight, including real-time sales data, sales trends, geographical sales performance and individual product performance, among several other metrics.
On December 10, the company announced major new additions to its selection of connectors that let small business retailers expand the reach of their multichannel sales operations. In addition to Amazon, NetSuite, eBay, and Magento, the nChannel platform now supports Shopify Plus, Amazon Webstore and Big Commerce.
In a prepared statement, nChannel's CMO, Shilpa Marano remarked that her company is:
committed to providing sellers with everything they need to manage their multichannel operations in a more efficient way. Because our Connectors tie online channels to brick-and-mortar stores and back-end systems, retailers can maintain a more consistent brand experience across all sales channels, while delivering a better shopping experience that includes more detailed product information, faster order delivery and real-time inventory updates.
Re-thinking Ecommerce Platforms
NChannel's capabilities aside, Weber said his company is resetting expectations of how small businesses approach business software.
"If you started off as a retailer, you were very happy to outsource [the process of setting up an online storefront] to a Web designer," said Weber. And, he added, in the process of creating a Web experience that ties into back-end systems, you often lose the value of the underlying data.
Retailers soon find themselves locked into a rigid system that prevents them from responding quickly to changes in the marketplace. What follows is a lengthy and often costly series of redesigns and system upgrades.
NChannel provides a more holistic, business-centric view of a multichannel retailing IT environments, said Weber. "We're equipping that small business owner to think differently about systems and what it's going to take to run the business."
Pricing for nChannel starts at $199 per month for the Basic plan. It includes QuickBooks and Sage integration, as well as features like shipping status and inventory, item and image syncing.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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