ERP and eCommerce are two very different platforms with unique utilities and architectures. Integrating them, however, can improve business functions throughout the organization, adding benefits to the business in the areas of Sales, Marketing, IT, Operational and Customer Services.
Updating a B2B company’s eCommerce site with internal systems can streamline operations and simplify customers’ buying experiences. One of the most common functions is connecting the eCommerce function to the ERP — “enterprise resource planning,” the principal operations system, including manufacturing, fulfillment, shipping, customer data, and accounting.
A company can reach businesses by building and maintaining a robust online presence, but simply offering products and services on a website isn’t enough. Today’s customer base holds high expectations for online web sellers; they want the same seamless customer experience they have become used to and enjoy from their favorite customer-oriented brands. Offer anything less, and it will be difficult to close the sale.
The best bet to improve an organization’s online experience begins with how it is viewed internally. Leadership cannot view a B2B eCommerce solution as a separate business function.
Ensuring a Successful Integration
Success can be found by eliminating silos on the back end, and through integration, offer a seamless experience on the front end. These steps can help organizations achieve results to boost business:
1. Define Data to be Integrated: Knowing what data to integrate, what the source of the data is, where it will be sent to, and how often it will be updated is important when integrating eCommerce with an ERP system. Identifying common data integration points is a great place to start — over time more and more can be added.
- Online orders: eCommerce to ERP. Transactions are placed via the eCommerce site and feed into the ERP system. This is the most common integration point and will allow the company to fulfill orders efficiently. This approach typically includes customer data from the order, the specific items that have been ordered, and the shipping method.
- Offline orders: ERP to eCommerce. This option allows customers to see orders they placed outside of the eCommerce site. Often left out of integration processes, this approach falls into the nice-to-have versus must-have category; that said, if it can be included, it does offer a positive way to build relationships with customers.
- Product data: ERP to eCommerce. Display on an eCommerce site products that are in stock and how quickly they ship. A public price, product weight, and other attribute data, such as color and dimensions can be featured.
- Customer data: ERP to eCommerce. Contract pricing, which allows buyers to purchase at a specific price, can also be integrated. These may be prices that are not available to the general public. Various payment options may be featured, such as purchase order versus the standard credit card.
- Shipping and tracking information: Shipping date, carrier, as well as tracking number can be integrated to allow customers to know when to expect the order.
Additional B2B integration complexities can include:
- Editing an order after it was placed;
- Multiple warehouses.
These additional items should be planned for in the integration requirements.
Companies may also use functionality from the ERP for eCommerce, such as calculating shipping costs and sales tax. Modern ERP solutions also allow for retrieving information in real time; it does, however, include some risks. Page load times can cause slow checkouts and the eCommerce site is completely reliant on the up-time of the ERP solution — if it goes down, customers will be unable to complete their purchases.
- 2. Map Customer Registration Workflow: Registration can be critical for B2B businesses and data integrations can impact the process. Before taking on an implementation project, map out the registration workflow for a new customer, who has yet to place an online order. Be sure to list initial data to be migrated and develop a realistic plan for implementation.
- Consider the following:
- How to connect those who have ordered from the company
- How to connect a customer who has never done business with the company
Options may include allowing these customers to input information they know (account number, billing zip code), or requiring a customer service representative to approve the account request. Try to find the most simplistic approach!
- 3. Build a Data Migration Plan: Migrating often requires initial one-time steps, such as:
- Loading product data — products need a valid SKU in the eCommerce site that matches a like code in the ERP;
- If launching a new platform at the same time as integration, migrate all users;
- Map existing users to ERP accounts.
Once initial data is determined, develop a plan for when and how it will be migrated.
Getting Started with Acumatica and Cloud 9 ERP Solutions
Acumatica Commerce Edition is one of the strongest solutions for the modern eCommerce organization in need of the visibility, control, automation, and growth that they deserve. As an Acumatica Gold Certified Partner, Cloud 9 ERP Solutions is a leader in helping companies enhance their ecommerce business and has worked with companies just like yours including Caswell Inc:
“Gregg’s team knew Everest and Magento. Without that knowledge, I don’t think we could have implemented Acumatica this fast.” - Lance Caswell, Caswell Inc.
For the past 15 years, Lance Caswell had ran his family’s small online retail companies using Everest Software, a business management software package that was expensive, difficult to upgrade and whose updates led to several days of outages. When Caswell decided not to renew his software license, he had just a few weeks to find a new solution.
Because Caswell Inc. is a small business, he first looked at QuickBooks—but it quickly became apparent that QuickBooks couldn’t handle three entities and didn’t have automatic processing he desired. Caswell decided to implement Acumatica’s ERP—a move he did in just four weeks—which made his business much more efficient.
With the expertise and help of Cloud 9 ERP Solutions, Caswell was able to:
- Reduce invoicing from a full day’s work every day to one hour a day, freeing staff to focus on more strategic issues
- Eliminate days of downtime caused by software upgrades
- Reduce the need for IT support by 10 hours a month
- Gain insight into inventory levels
- Gain an agile platform for the growth of several companies without adding accounting headcount
Cloud 9 ERP Solutions offers legacy business expertise to its customers. Learn more about Acumatica’s Integrated ERP and eCommerce software, and contact us today for a free consultation or to request a demo!
Additional Ecommerce Resources