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How Databases are Used in Ecommerce

Databases are an important part of running an ecommerce business. They are used to store, analyze and manage key information about products, sales and customers. By having this information accessible to you, it’s easy to make intelligent business decisions. You can also share your database with suppliers and logistics partners to increase productivity and efficiency. It’s a win-win for everybody! 

If you are just starting out with an ecommerce business, it’s important to have a database program lined up. Most new businesses do well with Microsoft Access because it’s easy to use and similar to other Microsoft Office products. Plus, you don’t need a background in coding to use the program. 

Here are some ways that MS Access can be used for your ecommerce business.

Store Product Information

Use your database to store information on your products, including detailed descriptions and specifications, product numbers, prices, availability and special promotions. It’s also helpful to include the supplier of each product so that you know who to order from when availability runs low. 

When things change, all you have to do is update your database and your website will show the latest information. This is far easier than having to update your website each time there’s a change in price or quantity. 

Organize Customer Data 

Your customers are the backbone of your business, so you want to keep track of the types of people you are selling to. The more you know about them, the better you can meet their needs. 

Enter in the full names of your customers, along with any personal information you know about them, such as their age range, income level, geographic region and interests. Just be sure that your database is secure, as a database breach can damage your business’ reputation.

Track Buyer’s Journey 

The customer journey is also important when learning about your customers and how they shop. Record information on your customers’ product searches, information requests and purchases so that you can build a comprehensive picture of the buyer’s journey. 

What types of product preferences do your customers have? What does their purchasing history look like? What is their future buying potential? 

Manage Campaigns 

Ecommerce databases make it easy to run marketing campaigns. First, you can target specific audiences based on their demographics. This allows you to create highly targeted campaigns that reach the right audience.

Second, you can analyze the transaction information to see how effective your campaigns are. Was there an increase in sales following your promotion? Did your discounted products get more views? As you learn what works and what doesn’t, you can create more effective campaigns. 

As you can see, databases are an important tool to have in ecommerce business. While Microsoft Access is user-friendly, it does require a learning curve. To ensure your database is set up correctly and updates your website in real-time, contact Arkware for a consultation. 

How to Make an Inventory Database on Access

If your business has been using spreadsheets to track inventory, you may be ready to move onto a more powerful database program like Microsoft Access. Inventory databases are important for several reasons, including storing details and quantities of the products you stock, along with their suppliers. With a well-organized database, you can reduce the time, cost and effort of inventory management. 

Below are five simple steps to help you create an inventory database using Access.

Step 1. Consider your business needs.

Think about what your database needs to be helpful to your business’ inventory. For example, what items do you carry? Are there differences that need to be noted? What are the turnover times? This is the type of information that should be included in your database. 

Also, figure out how the database will be implemented within your software architecture. In other words, how will Access interact with your other programs? Your IT staff should be able to help you with this. 

Step 2. Install Access on your computer. 

Decide where your database will be stored – on your personal computer, on an internal server or by a third party. It can then be downloaded and installed. Microsoft Access is part of Office 365. You can buy the basic or premium version and pay $8.25 or $12.50 per user per month, respectively. The premium version comes with additional services, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Teams. 

Step 3. Build your database. 

Once installed, you can start building your inventory database. If you’ve used Microsoft Office before, Access will feel comfortable and familiar. However, building a high-quality database that is free from errors can be difficult to do at first. 

To ensure your inventory database is well-built, consider working with a database development company. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind that your database is accurate. 

Step 4. Fine tune your database.

Once you have your fields in – units ordered, units received, product information, etc. – you can fine tune the database according to your notes. Be sure to establish relationships between the fields. Find out what values you will have returned when using the database and a way to store them. Also, avoid having duplicate data in multiple fields. 

Step 5. Enter in the information.

When your database is properly set up, you can start populating it with information. While you can input the data by hand, an easier option is to import your previous spreadsheet. If you were using Excel, you can click “Excel” and import your spreadsheet this way. Because both programs are developed by Microsoft, they are usually preserved when importing from one to the other. 

This is a brief breakdown of how to make an inventory database on Access, but if you have more questions, contact Arkware today. We’ll be happy to help with all stages of creating, managing and storing your inventory database. 

4 Ways Inventory Databases Benefit Retail

Retail businesses large and small benefit from well-organized inventory databases. This type of database holds crucial information about a business’ inventory, such as what the products are, how many quantities are in stock and their supplier. By using an inventory database, you can improve time and efficiency in your warehouse and provide a better service to customers. 

Here are four ways that inventory databases benefit retail businesses

1. Control inventory in real-time.

It’s important to know what products you have in stock at any given time. Otherwise, you run the risk of ordering too much or not ordering enough. With an inventory database, you will have an accurate, up-to-date picture of your stock levels. You can order the right products to keep customers happy without overstocking. Overstocked products take up floor space and eat into your profits. 

2. Spot future trends.

With an accurate retail inventory database, you can identify trends and forecast future customer demands. This allows you to plan for weekly or monthly spend, which is especially important during peak seasons. And, if you are planning on running a sale or promotion, you can use your historical data to ensure you have enough stock to meet the increased demand. 

3. Automate tedious tasks. 

Another benefit to inventory databases is that they automate time-consuming tasks. For example, rather than having your employees running back to check the stockroom, they can pull up what they need on the database. This saves time and allows them to help more customers on the floor and by phone, leading to greater customer satisfaction. 

4. Improve order and delivery process. 

When you have accurate, up-to-date information on your inventory, it’s easy to make smart decisions for order and delivery. You can group together certain products for bulk pricing and free shipping. For products that aren’t needed right away, you can opt for a slower delivery time to save money. If you do need the products right away, you can find a supplier that meets these needs. 

Databases are smart management tools that allow businesses to make strategic decisions to grow their brand. To ensure your database is well-built and provides you with accurate, reliable data that can be used in real-time, contact Arkware today. 

4 Ways to Protect Sensitive Information from Your Customers

Most businesses store sensitive information in their files, such as names, social security numbers and credit card numbers. This information is kept to identify customers and employees. It’s also necessary for completing certain tasks, such as filling orders, issuing paychecks and handling tax matters.

The problem with storing vulnerable information is that it can get into the wrong hands. A security breach can quickly take a toll on your business, leading to lost trust, a damaged reputation and costly lawsuits. 

At Arkware, we highly recommend not storing sensitive information like SSNs and credit credit numbers unless absolutely necessary. If you feel that keeping this information on file is required to do business, we strongly encourage encryption. 

Below are four principles that the FTC recommends following when building a strong digital data security plan. 

1. Know what information you have on your computers. 

The first thing is to know what information your business currently has on file. Inventory everything in your workplace: computers, laptops, mobile devices, flash drives, digital copiers, etc. Anything that holds sensitive data should be checked. 

Once this is complete, it’s also important to assess what information is coming to you and what you’re doing with it. For example, who sends personal information your way? How is this information received? Who has access to this information? 

2. Keep only the information your business needs.

When you know what you have, you can scale down. Chances are, you don’t need everything you have in your possession, so why be liable for it? If you must collect personal information, keep it only for as long as you need it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Don’t keep credit card information unless you need it 
  • Use SSNs only for required and lawful purposes
  • Allow mobile apps to access limited data and functionality 
  • Give employees the least amount of information they need to do their jobs

3. Encrypt all sensitive information. 

Everyone in your workplace should follow good security practices – not just your IT staff. Make sure employees are properly trained as well. Encryption is one of the best ways to protect sensitive data, as it allows only authorized users to access it. Other steps you can take include: 

  • Logging off computers at the end of each day
  • Running anti-malware programs on individual computers and servers
  • Restricting employees’ ability to download software 
  • Not storing sensitive information on computers without a secure connection

4. Dispose of what you don’t need. 

Identity thieves can do a lot of damage with a small amount of information. All sensitive information should be disposed of when you no longer need it. There is no reason to keep this data and be at risk for a devastating security breach. When disposing of information, be sure you follow the best practices. For example, erase computers using a wipe utility program. Shred, burn or pulverize paper documents. 

Security breaches happen all the time. Don’t let you business fall victim to one. If you feel that your clients’ personal information is critical to your business, make sure the data is encrypted. Contact Arkware to learn more on data encryption solutions. 

Importance of Good Database Design (and 7 Steps to Achieve It)

Good database design is essential for reliable, complete and accurate data. Certain principles lead the way in database design. These principles include not having redundant data and ensuring all information is complete and correct. When you know that your database is properly designed, you can trust it to make strategic decisions. 

Let’s learn more about the importance of good database design and seven steps to achieve it. 

Why Good Database Design Matters 

Let’s look closer at the guiding principles in database design

The first principle addresses duplicate information. Redundant data is considered bad because it wastes space and increases the chances of making errors. This is understandable, as repeating data can show up in reports when it doesn’t need to be there.

The second principle is that all information within the database must be correct and complete. If your database contains inaccurate information, any reports pulled from the database will be misleading. 

To have good database design, your database should be able to do the following: 

  • Divide information into subject-based tables 
  • Support the accuracy and integrity of the data 
  • Give Access the information it needs to join information together 
  • Accommodate data processing and reporting needs 

Seven Steps to Achieving Good Database Design 

To ensure good database design, here are seven steps to follow. 

1. Determine your database’s purpose. There are multiple types of database management systems, such as relational databases, object databases and graph databases. Determine what database will best fit your needs. 

2. Find and organize information. Gather all types of information you might want to enter into the database like product names and order numbers. 

3. Divide the information into tables. Organize your information based on subjects or categories, such as Products or Orders. Each subject becomes its own table. 

4. Place information items into columns. Decide what information you want to store in each table. Each item becomes a field and is displayed as a column in a table. For example, a Customers table might include First Name, Last Name and Address.

5. Specify primary keys. Choose a primary key for each table. The primary key is used to identify each row, such as Product ID or Order ID.

6. Establish relationships. Decide how the information is related to the information in other tables. Add fields to tables or create new tables if you need to reinforce the relationships. 

7. Refine your design. Review your design for errors. Create tables and see if you can get accurate data. Also, apply normalization rules to make sure your tables are structured properly. 

While you don’t need to be a coding expert to use Microsoft Access, good database design requires some experience. To have a database built or optimized for your company, contact Arkware today.