The “shopping cart” introduction has turned every shopping website into an interaction-centric platform and a true eCommerce enabler. With as much as 22% of brand sales happening online, manufacturing businesses are witnessing a tectonic shift in the way customers buy their products. Realizing customer convenience to be the most significant virtue, companies are using eCommerce platforms to extend their customer base through various access points like phones, tablets, computers, and kiosks.
On the other hand, ERP has been a reliable software solution for manufacturers to automate their key business functions for decades now. ERP systems can automate processes and give an organization the ability to access and leverage the most up-to-date customer, product, and accounting information to streamline business processes. Over the years, ERP has shown the propensity to adopt newfound business practices by adding supporting modules, and the same is true for eCommerce integration as well.
Working as disconnected systems, ERP and the eCommerce platform can throw fragmented and conflicting data, resulting in delays, chaos, and confusion. But when these two systems are merged, they work in perfect harmony to maximize product sales. The success of the eCommerce ERP integration is based on providing a consistent and efficient customer experience so that the customer chooses to engage with the company more often.
The Essentials of eCommerce ERP Integration
More than 80% of online sellers have agreed that cross-border sales through eCommerce have increased profitability. While dealing with customers from across the globe, the accuracy of every operation on the eCommerce platform is dependent on accurate data from the ERP and vice versa. After populating the website with products from the ERP, the platform needs to notify the ERP as soon as an order is generated, so that allocation and fulfillment can be ensured.
Establishing a website and shopping cart might appear deceptively easy, but successful administration of the resulting omnichannel supply chain needs far more involvement. The customer shops online for convenience and therefore, companies should ensure a seamless eCommerce ERP integration that supports browsing, saving, ordering, shipping, delivery, and follow-up.
Why should a business integrate?
The eCommerce ERP integration is often overlooked because of the immense business disruption it may cause. The established comfort with the present system and the prospect of lost sales at the very start can discourage businesses. But when organizations set long terms goals, they realize that the benefits of ERP for eCommerce companies far outweigh the costs. The positive impact on customer experience and overall business operations should be enough to motivate companies to integrate their eCommerce platform with ERP.
Manual data entries across both systems are labor-intensive and error-prone. What if a shipping address is typed incorrectly? Or is the product information incomplete or missing? Integrating eCommerce ERP can solve these problems by automatically updating product details, customer addresses, and other relevant information across both systems simultaneously. On top of it, integration negates the possibility of overselling with real-time inventory updates and avoids customer discontent.
Features of eCommerce ERP integration
The integration capabilities can be built-in on the ERP or an API-based ERP connector can be developed to connect the two systems. Below are the most salient features of eCommerce ERP integration:
- Customized Touch-points – In the process of integration, touch-points or templates are configured to be executed on schedules of every five minutes, every hour, every day, etc. Activities like pulling customer orders, uploading shipment tracking numbers from ERP to eCommerce, and getting customer details from eCommerce to be created in ERP can be customized and executed automatically. This feature saves a considerable amount of man hours required to exchange data between the two systems.
- Automatic Data Population – When organizations integrate eCommerce ERP, there is a large pool of data that needs to be exchanged between the two systems. Upon integration, ERP is populated with all the historical data from the eCommerce platform and the eCommerce platform receives all relevant data from ERP. Duplicate data is eliminated and missing data in any one system is filled in from the available data on the other system. This information transfer increases the intelligence of both systems and creates a singular truth for the entire organization.
- Real-time Data Exchange – After integration, the eCommerce platform and ERP are configured to exchange data in real-time. The migration, broadcasting, aggregation, correlation, and synchronization of data facilitate a consistent real-time view of the data across systems. A timely inventory update can prevent overselling, a prompt order update can expedite fulfillment, and a quick shipping update can enhance customer experience. Several such instances being executed together can increase organizational efficiency and boost online sales.
- Real-time Sales Order Creation – All this effort is undeniably centered on one activity, customer orders. When ERP and eCommerce are disconnected, transferring a sales order from the website to the ERP can take very long. With a near real-time exchange of data, customer orders from the website can be instantly updated on the ERP. Instant communication to the inventory, sales, finance, and other relevant modules can expedite billing and credit information. Faster order creation leads to faster fulfillment and ensures customer satisfaction.
- Handling of Promotional Pricing/Offers/Discounts – eCommerce ERP software has in-built capabilities to handle promotional pricing and discounts. This feature can be extended to your eCommerce platform by integrating it with ERP. With real-time broadcasting and aggregation of data, you can update the promotional pricing of your products on ERP and the eCommerce platform will reflect it as it is. The integration facilitates the simplification of the internal processes of accounting, finance, and sales, to save a lot of time and effort.
What are the Benefits of eCommerce ERP Integration?
With automated inventory updates, order tracking, and accounting, eCommerce ERP software can take your online sales to the next level without increasing your employee workload. Simplified information exchange between your eCommerce platform and ERP can streamline operations and optimize processes in the manufacturing organization. The integrated data also facilitates faster reporting and analysis of the available data for accurate decision-making.
Top 10 Benefits of eCommerce ERP Integration
- Increased Productivity
- Real-time Data and Information Flow
- Eliminate Data Redundancy & Human Error
- Expedited Data Reporting & Financial Statements
- Reduced Inventory & Operational Costs
- Improved Customer Experience
- Simplified Order Tracking
- Reduced Need to Hire Extra Personnel
- Suitable for Small, Medium and Large Size Companies
- Convenient Synchronization Amongst all Platforms