Until recently, many businesses have employed separate systems for their client-facing and back-end needs, however there is an increasing trend for a tighter integration between the two. Why not have an integrated eCommerce solution and a robust inventory and accounting(ERP) backend that were designed for each other?
Before making a decision on whether or not eCommerce is right for your business, consider the following information on eCommerce.
eCommerce has seen consistent growth across all sectors since its inception implying that:
- Consumers are abandoning current purchasing behaviour in favour of online purchases and
- eCommerce is creating additional business where there was no business before
It is important to recognize these trends because it signifies how important it is to get involved with eCommerce. Traditionally consumers were accustomed to the supply chain with many middle-men. However, customers now expect to be able to cut some of those middle-men out, dealing with manufacturers or distributors directly where possible. Due to this change in behaviour, it is becoming more common to see distributors put up webstores to deal with consumers directly, giving their products greater visibility, or to implement a webstore to allow for easy-to-access product information for business customers.
It is also important to consider the required investment in eCommerce which continues to fall – it is now cheaper than ever to get started. This means that you will see increased returns with decreasing costs which leads to exceptional ROI. There are now a number of mature product options in the market that allow for sound business investments in this space – such as Magento.
With the benefits of eCommerce now apparent, we can focus on the benefits of deploying a webstore that is integrated with a robust back-end system.
Many business owners set out looking for either an eCommerce solution with some inventory functionality or robust inventory functionality with minimal eCommerce integration; rarely do they expect to get the two from the same provider. Typically education is needed to convince them that there are integrated solutions that exist and that they should always be looking for a single system to accommodate their needs instead of relying on many disparate systems.
The benefits of deploying an integrating eCommerce and ERP system are as follows:
- Familiarity with a single system to manage all data
- Easily report on all data across systems
- Reduce/eliminate integration costs
- Eliminate integration problems
To reiterate: eCommerce has often been seen as a primarily B2C avenue for business, however, it is becoming more and more relevant for B2B businesses as well. eCommerce webstores integrated with an ERP system can offer B2B businesses the opportunity to make selling their products even easier to their customers. Instead of product catalogues and phone-ins, many B2B businesses are relying on online stores to present their product offerings.
The bottom line is that most businesses can benefit from an integrated online and ERP back-end solution. Those that realize this quickly add substantial benefit to their businesses.
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