When it comes to the "web" or "websites" people often think of one thing. Of a place you go online, make a few clicks and spend some money. Or in the case of the owner, sell some product.
But there is so much more. Rather than limit your vision of a website to the "frontend" a place where customers interface, think broader. Think of the backend. A tool to manage your business.
Backend Versus Frontend
In simplest terms, the backend is where orders are managed. A phone order, trade show order, walk-in that will be mailed and more are entered in as a sale.
The frontend is the customer interface, while the backend is the store interface. But broaden your thinking even greater.
Don't limit the backend to some order entry page. Where sales are tracked and shipping labels generated.
Think in terms of a hub and spoke system.
Hub And Spoke
In a hub and spoke system, "something" is the center of the system. It connects other parts. An example would be the buying and selling of stocks. A broker plays the role of hub. The buyer and seller the spokes. They transact business with one another through the broker.
Bringing this back to the internet and your business, the backend can and often should be your hub. It connects other aspects of your business.
Let's say you either enter a sale manually or someone buys directly on your site. What happens next?
The first step is getting product out the door. So the backend creates an order, assigns product, pulls a customer account, etc.
If your company deals in a lot of SKUs then you likely utilize a third party shipping application like ShipStation or Finale. So the backend needs to communicate with the "warehouse and shipping department."
When the order is picked, label printed, tracking and more assigned, then ideally these third party applications report back to the backend. They update the customer account with tracking info and change the status from "in process" to "completed." All automatically, behind the scenes with no need for a person to update anything.
Beyond the Sale
Though the transaction is completed, the relationship has just begun. Your backend should integrate well with your CRM (customer relationship manager) like InfusionSoft.
Within your CRM you should have order history by customers, sales and other important information. This allows targeted marketing campaigns long term.
Maybe you introduce a new version of a product and you want to reach out to those who purchased the prior model. With a CRM and order history you can do just that.
You can manage shopping cart abandonment with the goal of increasing sales. Target various industry. Perform marketing campaigns ahead of trade shows and more.
What about keeping track of sales, accounts receivables, payables and more? Once again the backend needs to integrate with your accounting software.
When a sale comes in can you easily tell if the customer owes a past balance? Has a high tendency to return product? Or tends to be open to suggestions for add on sales and more?
At the end of the day, one of the keys to growth is automation. Eliminating manual tasks as much as possible. Tasks that are labor intensive, costly and error prone.
When you think of your website in terms of backend versus frontend you'll be able to see the opportunities that exist.
Opportunities to not just increase productivity but offer a better overall experience to your clients.