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Merlin breaks new ground with Next Generation of E-Commerce Integration

29th July 2011

If you’ve ever dreamed of the perfect E-Commerce solution for your business, you’ve probably imagined one where your company’s back office system and your website E-Commerce applications are a single, seamless entity where no backstage management is required, allowing you to sit back and watch the web orders stream in.

Unfortunately, the reality experienced by most businesses to date, is quite the opposite with disappointing results and expectations dashed. Indeed, we have seen in many of these cases that the E-Commerce application is generally a totally separate entity to the back-office system. Daily management of product data between the two is therefore often so time-consuming and difficult that the website becomes a lower priority, if not an afterthought. The thought of the wasted investment often then prevents many from revisiting the subject.

Many companies are frustrated to find that, having made a significant investment in a website to provide their customers with a complete product resource, the customer still rings-in to discuss pricing because the web application cannot cope with pre-agreed customer special price management.

However, Merlin’s alternative approach has seen users change the entire model of their business to the extent that one user receives 90% of orders through the website. How is this possible?

Quite simply, our ethos is that in business the company’s IT system should extend from the office to the customer through the website as a single integrated solution. Certainly, the information held on the website should not involve duplication of data that requires constant dual management.

With Merlin, you simply select which items of stock you wish to publish to the website and Merlin takes care of the rest. Any element of the stock record can then appear on the website, including the same product images that your users see on their screens back in the office, supporting technical notes, dimensions, weights, etc. And all you had to do was tick one box!

Merlin’s Web Wizard Supastore is a combined web site template and management tool, which allows you to control and change the look and feel of the website without reliance on a third-party web design company. You can choose to base your website from any of the four design templates and take control of the page structures and the look and feel of the web experience.

The key to Merlin’s success with web sites is due to the deliberate choice to develop the back office applications around a powerful royalty-free SQL database with client applications developed to Microsoft’s .Net Framework standard using Visual Basic.Net.

With such solid foundations laid, a previously unachievable level of interaction with the website is now available. Through the introduction of Merlin’s Web Services Tool Set, based on Microsoft’s web services technology, Merlin’s tool set can be embedded in to existing websites or new ones, including Merlin’s own Web Wizard Supastore applications.

The end results are mind-blowing; just what you want an E-Commerce solution to do – stock records that automatically appear on the website, on the correct product group pages – ready to sell. Dynamic stock availability indication (if desired) with no misleading figures. Instant stock allocation from the website the instant the order is confirmed. Instant order confirmation from the back-office Merlin system. Web orders seamlessly entering the back office order processing system; picking lists being produced, etc.

If this is not enough, Merlin’s Web Services Tool Set permits the creation of secure Customer Portals within the web site. The same features are still available, but with the addition of customer specific information, such as the customer’s own special pricing, access to their own account transactions, the ability to view their previous orders and proof of deliveries (PODs).

Only with this level of sophistication can you encourage your customers to be self-serving, removing their reliance on your administration and sales staff, and moving the associated costs on to them too.

Armed with this simple and effective selling tool, Merlin users are capitalising on this alternative revenue stream, and reducing their business costs in to the bargain. For more information, please call us on 01246 457150 or email on info@merlinbusinesssoftware.com or visit us at www.merlinbusinesssoftware.com

Have a look at our latest advert and editorial in the October issue of Builders Merchant Newsmagazine on page 30 and pages 98-99 of the this month’s on-line Fastener & Fixings magazine (http://www.fastenerandfixing.com/fastenerandfixing/70_Digital.html)

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