ERP to eCommerce integration is something that has been adopted by the majority of successful businesses today. We’re going to tell you what exactly ERP-integrated eCommerce can do and why these companies have been reaping the benefits and continuously coming out ahead of their competition.
What is ERP eCommerce Integration?
Integrating your eCommerce website with a back-end accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system simply means cutting out a ton of manual labor and creating a more seamless experience for both your employees and your customers. It also provides access to a vast (and growing) customer base, not only providing new growth potential for sales but new marketing opportunities for your business as well.
In simple terms, ERP eCommerce integration means that your ERP system and your website send information back and forth so that they are both ‘on the same page’. The information being sent back and forth will depend on the store, but it generally includes shipping information, inventory details, product information, and product updates.
How Does ERP Integration for eCommerce Work?
One of the biggest challenges online businesses are facing in the current climate is to efficiently manage every aspect of their online store. This can be tricky when there are so many metrics to keep in mind. Some are important for the marketing aspect of your business, while others help in the daily operations, like keeping track of sales, shipping, payments, stock, and other essential metrics.
While managing these critical eCommerce metrics has become a full-time job in many companies, resources can be better utilized in the understanding of these metrics, rather than simply capturing them. And that’s exactly where the integration of an ERP comes into play.
ERP eCommerce Syncing
There are a variety of ERP systems on the market, each integrating slightly differently. These fall into two main categories: one-way syncing and two-way syncing.
The difference is rather simple – one-way syncing allows for data to transfer in one direction, either from your website to your ERP or from your ERP to your website. Two-way syncing allows for information to flow in both directions, so both your ERP and your website are receiving information from one another.
Both of these are useful in their own right, but they are necessary for different tasks. If you want your customer to be able to view important information like their tracking status online (e.g. with the use of a customer portal), then one-way syncing will work just fine. But if you want your customer to actually make purchases through the website, then you may be in need of a two-way syncing ERP.
The data synchronization schedule is also something that can differ. While some integrations are set to synchronize instantaneously, others sync only once or twice a day. This again would depend on what you are using it for. If you are using the ERP eCommerce integration to merely provide tracking information to your customers, then syncing twice a day is quite alright. However, if you are updating customers on the inventory of your online store, then real-time syncing is rather important.
Data Connection Points
Data connection points are essentially the different types of data being sent between your ERP and your eCommerce website. The more data connection points you have, the more information is being transferred between one and the other. This means you have the ability to show your customers more data which can give you greater ability to make a sale.
Your ERP service provider can customize the data connection points so that you have all the functionality you need in your eCommerce webstore. Here are some of the data connection points that you could be using in your ERP eCommerce integration:
- Order and Order Status
- Shipping and Tracking
- Quick Order Entry
- Online Payments
- Purchase Orders
- Customer Information
- Product Details
- Product Pricing
- Inventory Levels
- Customer Pricing Levels
So, what exactly do these data connection points do? An example would be when a returning customer places an order, their address information is already being stored in the server and auto-fills. This information then syncs directly with your ERP so that the order can be fulfilled.
The Dangers of Not Using ERP and eCommerce Integration
Some companies choose to not integrate their ERP and eCommerce systems. These are quite a few drawbacks you can expect from manually updating your website rather than using ERP integration.
- Greater Chance of Human Error
Like anything that is done manually, there is a high chance of human error creating complications along the way at some point or another. Manual data entry often results in a higher percentage of errors, mistakes, and costs. It takes longer for a human to enter and consolidate data from multiple systems than a fully automated, controlled process.
- Access to the Wrong Data
Because of the time delay caused by someone manually updating information on your website, there’s a risk of incorrect data. This could cause someone to make a purchase of an item that has just gone out of stock, which creates the inconvenience of having to reimburse them and potentially cause customer dissatisfaction. It also means that tracking information is slower to update which can cause customers to become frustrated.
- Compromised Customer Experience
With slower updates and a process that hasn’t been streamlined efficiently with ERP integration, customer service is inevitably compromised. This causes customers to not come back to your website, and they certainly wouldn’t recommend your service to others.
Why You Should Consider eCommerce ERP Integration
We often hear the words ERP and eCommerce integration being thrown around in the online space, but just how important is it? We’ve outlined exactly why you should integrate eCommerce and ERP to create a business that practically runs itself (okay, not entirely but you get the point).
1. Lower Operating Costs
ERP eCommerce integration can significantly reduce the cost of hiring human labor to manually enter data into the eCommerce website. These costly tasks include updating prices, images, and other product information. If your website and ERP system are running coherently, then when an item updates in your ERP, it will automatically be updated on your eCommerce website as well.
This saves you from having to hire someone to consolidate data from your website and back-end accounting software. Your orders will also automatically be downloaded, fulfillment information will be updated, and the customer’s credit card will be charged without any human interaction during the process. With less human interaction, there is less of a chance for errors and mistakes. Using eCommerce and ERP integration will not only save you money in the long run, but it will ensure your online store runs more smoothly and always shows real-time information to your customers.
2. Increased Customer Satisfaction
Customers are the sole reason that your business is able to exist. So, making customers happy should be at the forefront of your operation! Having an integrated ERP system for your eCommerce store means that there will never be wrong information or information that hasn’t been updated on your website. From product information and order tracking details to stock count will all be accurately represented on your website in real-time. The fact that the customer never feels misled or ends up disappointed will keep them coming back to your online store again and again. Reliability is an important part of customer trust, and once that trust is lost its next to impossible to get it back.
3. Access to Real-Time Data
Basing business decisions on real-time data and insights instead of gut instinct has been an absolute game-changer in the eCommerce space. ERP-integrated eCommerce software means that your pricing and inventory are regularly updated on your website in real-time. So when customers make purchases of an item, the inventory decreases on the site, showing other customers how many items are left.
This is important for both you and your customers. For starters, this prevents a customer from purchasing a product that is no longer in stock. You avoid their disappointment, and you also eliminate the extra step of reimbursement and apologies. For a store owner, the benefit of real-time inventory updates is that you can see just how much stock you have left of a particular item. This will influence your purchasing decisions as you’ll know which items you need to buy more of, and which ones you don’t. This kind of data can lead to smoother business operations and faster decision making further down the line.
4. Impactful Decisions Based on Performance
Having an integrated ERP system for your eCommerce store gives you access to invaluable information about your customers and their interaction with your website. It gives you the ability to analyze products that are in demand, making purchasing decisions easier. You will also get insights into the demographics of your customer base which will allow you to create better marketing strategies and target your advertising efforts with greater precision. This reduces your costs in yet one more way because focusing your marketing on a certain target segment means your conversion rate will be higher, bringing in more revenue to the business for the amount of money spent.
5. Increased Data Security
ERP eCommerce integration offers widespread access to data across the world, but because of the sensitivity of this information, it comes with serious security to ensure only approved parties have access to this information. Because ERP systems have higher security, data is backed up regularly and more parameters are in place for disaster recovery and business continuity. ERP systems also usually have security teams on 24-hour alert or protocols in place to prevent data breaches or attacks.
This extra level of security is something incredibly important especially when your database contains sensitive information such as credit card details and your client’s home address. A user information leak could lead to a lot of bad press and a breach of trust. This can easily become a PR nightmare that any eCommerce store would much rather avoid.
6. Simplified, Streamlined Workflows
ERP systems were designed to automate and streamline core business workflows. By operating your ERP and eCommerce from the same centralized platform, everyone in your company will have access to the real-time data and workflows they need to communicate and keep the business running. This means that processes are simplified, delays are significantly reduced, and orders can be fulfilled a lot quicker.
7. Standardized Business Processes
ERP systems were created by developers with experience in many business niches, and as such, the best industry practices are built into these programs using only the best standard operating procedures. This means that from the moment you start using your ERP system, the best standard operating procedures are built into your company processes. These can be modified and updated over time, so they work best for your company. Having these standard operating procedures in place saves time because many of the processes become automated rather than being done manually. With less friction between company departments, the business can run more smoothly with effortless collaboration.
8. Instant Competitive Advantage
Having an integrated ERP system will give you an advantage over your competitors. If your company is running like a well-oiled machine, with boosted productivity, automation, and real-time data updates, you’ll start flying way ahead of your competitors who are juggling multiple disparate systems. Your revenue will increase, clients will start to view you as a better choice, and stakeholders and partners will want to join your business as the profit line increases. While many of these benefits are immediate, your company will also see long-term improvements as you’ll be able to make better, and more informed business decisions in the long run with the influx of valuable data collected by your ERP.
Seamlessly Integrate Your ERP and eCommerce with commercebuild
As you can see, there are some huge advantages to implementing an eCommerce solution that integrates with your ERP software. By syncing your website, warehouse, back office, and online store and adding automation, you not only help reduce manual processes and ensure you’re always viewing accurate data, but it also means faster deployment and time to value for your business.
While there are plenty of eCommerce solutions out there that integrate with ERP systems, commercebuild has built our brand on it. Our eCommerce platform is custom-built to seamlessly integrate with your ERP. We currently offer eCommerce solutions tailored for Sage, Microsoft Dynamics, and NetSuite ERP. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of ERP-integrated eCommerce, get in touch with our team. We can answer any questions you have and show you a personalized demo of our platform today.