Are you at the helm of a brick-and-mortar operation that’s ready to expand into the online realm? Or, do you have an existing eCommerce system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution but are struggling with data issues and inefficiency because they’re not integrated?
Either way, you’ll benefit from these eight tips for making eCommerce integration as seamless as possible.
What is eCommerce Integration?
In short, eCommerce integration is the process of coordinating your company’s eCommerce technology to work in conjunction with the ERP system that handles your back-end functionality.
This integration is necessary for many reasons. For one, it enables a bidirectional information flow, meaning that the two systems can communicate with and inform one another. This means you only have to enter data once.
eCommerce integration also delivers important efficiencies, chief among them the ability to set up automatic inventory updates on both the front-end (as product is added) and back-end (as customers make purchases). This real-time data is critical for both customers, as well as your in-house team members.
Finally, as your eCommerce business grows and demand increases, eCommerce integration can allow your company to scale without hiring additional staff.
2021 Top 10 ERP Vendors Report
This report is relevant to organizations across industries and outlines the top ERP vendors that we believe will help organizations prosper in 2021.
8 eCommerce Integration Tips
Ready to embark on your eCommerce integration? If so, here are a few important considerations to keep in mind.
1. Include Various Stakeholders
We recommend asking stakeholders to share their pain points and business needs before the integration project begins and using this to inform your project plan. In addition, you should ask your executive team for input so you can ensure business-IT alignment regarding project goals.
A successful integration project incorporates insights from stakeholders across many functional areas. This gives you a comprehensive understanding of how systems are currently used and how you can optimize each one.
2. Improve Your Business Processes
As you identify pain points, you might find that a few of your tried-and-true business processes are no longer as effective as they once were. To this end, don’t be afraid to conduct business process reengineering so you can determine how you can do things better, quicker and more successfully once your ERP software and eCommerce system are working as one.
3. Focus on Organizational Change Management
It goes without saying that some of the process changes you initiate might be met with hesitation and pushback from some of your team members. That’s why it’s also important to focus on organizational change management.
One aspect of change management is clearly communicating the nature and purpose of upcoming changes to employees, so they don’t draw their own conclusions. This minimizes change resistance and builds change competency within your company, at every level.
4. Take a Future-focused Approach
If you don’t currently have an eCommerce system or you’re looking for a new one, it’s best to look for a solution with the most important functionality you need today, as well as in the future.
Consider what features you may need as your eCommerce presence grows. What if you expand your multichannel strategy?
Having a robust system is important when it comes to integration because you don’t want to have to go through another integration in a few years when you realize you need a different system because the one you selected couldn’t keep up with your business’s growth.
5. Consider SaaS Systems
An application programming interface (API) can make eCommerce integration easier. Used in software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud-based models, these interfaces help define interactions between the two software systems, expediting the process and making the final solution more user-friendly.
As you evaluate ERP vendors, consider prioritizing those that use a SaaS model, which can also provide access to a greater number of synchronizations.
6. Choose Bidirectional Integration
As mentioned, one benefit of eCommerce integration is bidirectional information flow. Yet not all integrations follow this methodology. Some consultants may suggest a different approach based on the systems and channels you’re already using.
Still, bidirectional integration is generally preferred. This way, you can make updates in real-time and only do so once, assured that everything is updated where it needs to be.
At the same time, you can also exercise control over how and when the platforms receive certain updates. For instance, if you want to save special pricing updates for a promotional event, you can make the change in your ERP system without migrating it over to your eCommerce platform.
7. Plan to Test
As you plan out your integration schedule, don’t forget to allow plenty of time for testing. Inevitably, there will be issues and synchronization errors along the way, and you may only be able to identify them during the testing phase.
Failing to allocate this time could mean discovering the issues much later, when it’s too late to make a quick or inexpensive fix.
8. Develop a Wider Integration Framework as You Implement New Best-of-breed Solutions
An eCommerce and ERP integration can be a valuable solution for many companies. Yet, many companies will need to expand this setup into a wider integration framework that includes other software systems, such as CRM, HCM or any other system you might implement as part of a best-of-breed strategy.
This is why it’s important to take a future-focused approach when determining your integration strategy or evaluating new eCommerce software.
Successfully Manage Your ERP and eCommerce Integration
Do you have a digital business model, or are you planning to create a new digital business model? If so, eCommerce integration is essential. In other words, don’t “social distance” your eCommerce system from your ERP system.
You already know how powerful an ERP system can be. Consider how you can multiply its potential by integrating it with your existing or new eCommerce system. You’ll be able to expand your operations, grow your audience and build your bottom line.
Looking for support as you begin this effort? We’d love to help. Request a free consultation below to speak with our ERP consultants.