What’s the simple formula for ERP eCommerce integration success? When developing your roadmap for eCommerce B2B, you must plan for potential roadblocks. Detours along the way aren’t unusual. But, there are a handful of roadblocks so monumental that they bring the trip to a grinding halt. ERP integration is so crucial to the success of an eCommerce implementation that if you don’t get it right it can derail the entire project.
So, it’s important to carefully plan for an ERP integration and choose your eCommerce platform wisely to minimize integration problems. When done successfully, an eCommerce ERP integration between platforms is crucial for leveraging the power of a fully digitized sales environment. This includes benefits for all aspects of the business from:
• Reduced manual order entry results in more accurate order processing. This reduces order and delivery mistakes while also saving time and increasing throughput.
• Inventory control has been improved thanks to automated inventory synchronization. Customers get access to correct inventory levels without requiring further assistance.
• Customers are notified automatically when their orders are sent, and they may monitor their packages online.
• Inventory management has been simplified by coordinating product stock and availability.
• Tax compliance that is automated eliminates the possibility of rate and collection mistakes.
• Scalability without the need for extra resources.
What’s an ERP and how does it work with your eCommerce?
The backbone of your company’s IT infrastructure is generally enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Accounting, customer databases, manufacturing scheduling, materials management, ordering, and shipping are all handled by it. It’s an effective business tool. Furthermore, because your eCommerce platform is a potent sales tool, it must integrate with your ERP. But it isn’t always as simple as you would assume. This is due to the nature of your ERP and the information it includes.
Product Information — With an ERP eCommerce integration, product names, SKUs, and descriptions must all match so that buyers receive exactly what they ordered.
Contact information, shipping details, payment conditions, and credit status must all be given to ensure the accurate shipment and invoicing.
Because most B2B transactions are based on negotiated pricing, both systems must utilize the proper rates and rules.
Shipping – For shipment, inventory, and account management reasons, fulfillment rules, shipping logistics, order status, and bill of lading information must flow between the two systems.
Customers, buying managers, and warehouse employees all rely on current inventory information. This necessitates the coordination and synchronization of inventory status (e.g., in stock, back-ordered, discontinued), quantities, and lead times.
Information on the order/invoice – Complete order information is required by accounting teams, customer care representatives, and customers. This covers details about current orders as well as previous orders. This includes information on order line items, previous order/invoice history, current order/invoice status, sales and purchase order status, and payment information.
Taxes – There are a number of tax regulations, rules, and rates that apply to both domestic and foreign transactions. To enhance compliance and reduce risk, the ERP and eCommerce systems must automatically communicate this data. Both systems will need to share tax codes, rates, and rules.
Returns – Goods authorizations and credit memos are a necessary element of doing business since accidents, malfunctions, and shipping mistakes occur. Both systems must exchange this information so that customers and staff have the same account information.
The whole size of the databank should be evaluated in addition to the data given above. If your ERP has information on hundreds of thousands to millions of SKUs, your eCommerce platform must be able to manage the same amount of data. With a fully integrated ecommerce platforms benefits are abundant.
Legacy ERP Technology?
Because ERP is so important to a company’s performance, it isn’t updated very often. It’s possible that upgrading took place, but it’s also possible that it didn’t. Even upgraded ERPs are frequently built on outdated technology. An ERP system today might be built on software that is 10 to 20 years old. An ERP may not be able to easily link to third-party systems from a practical standpoint. Because the obsolete technology must smoothly marry with the new technology, older technology might make integrations much more difficult. IT staff may have spent years customizing the system, addressing problems, and devising workarounds in a legacy ERP environment.
ERP systems usually don’t operate properly without some amount of customization because no two firms are identical. Whether you use SAGE or SAP, your ERP installation is likely to be so unique that it differs from other firms’ implementations of the same software. Your ERP setup is tailored to your company’s specific demands and operations. That’s a positive thing. Unique ERP implementations, on the other hand, necessitate a unique eCommerce integration. Integration with your eCommerce platform might be difficult since your ERP includes a lot of data, has outdated technology, and is highly customized with your ERP eCommerce integration.
You must choose which system will serve as the main data source. Is it going to be the ERP system or the eCommerce platform? The ERP will most likely be your master data source since it has tentacles that reach into every department and function. However, this isn’t always the case. That is why, early in the planning stages, it is critical to have that internal discussion and explicitly designate the master data source. Failure to develop a complete integration strategy can lead to delays, increased costs, and more work. What are the keys to a successful ERP and eCommerce integration, given all of this?
Advantages of Integrating eCommerce with ERP
• Effective Data Utilization
An ERP integration feeds real-time data into your eCommerce system, transforming it into a reliable source of truth. Data that is consolidated may help the entire business. Marketing and sales teams, for example, may generate strong reports to assist them in making calculated and educated decisions.
• Inventory Transparency
Even the top sellers can experience surges in demand and frequent out-of-stocks during a crisis. It’s nearly hard to retain trustworthy information on your eCommerce website without an ERP interface. For both eCommerce employees and customers, and ERP integration maintains an accurate inventory record.
Assume you don’t connect purchase data from your ERP to your eCommerce platform. In such a scenario, you’ll have to keep unnecessary inventory on hand, make incorrect estimates, and misinform vendors and suppliers. What’s the end result? Stock shortages, murky transactions, and general inefficiencies.
• Customer Satisfaction
Buyers are increasingly turning to omnichannel experiences and self-service rather than phoning salespeople to place orders. An ERP link provides for improved account tracking and customization, as well as automatic delivery of order status, order history, and shipment information to customers.
Data Flows in ERP and eCommerce
It’s critical to understand how data flows now and how and when data will flow after your ERP eCommerce connection is complete before you start looking into your ERP and eCommerce alternatives.
Ask yourself the following questions when you plan out your data flows and their sources:
If you’re already using EDI, where will the data be exchanged after the integration is complete? What about potential new clients? How will new consumers be treated after they arrive, since one of the goals of eCommerce is to drive new business? What about clients who purchase online yet live in a different city? What method will be used to link offline and online accounts?
Our recommendation for successful integration is to map the whole company using process diagrams. It will provide a visual picture of your different business processes for you and your integration partner. Then and only then should you consider an initial migration and ongoing integration strategy.
Available Integration Strategies
Extensive preparation is required for a successful B2B eCommerce ERP connection. It applies to any project. As a result, a successful integration begins well before you choose your eCommerce platform. You’ll need to figure out how data should move, create a migration plan, devise a synchronization strategy, and prepare for future expansion contingencies. After that, you’ll be able to choose your ERP-integrated eCommerce solution.
• Point-to-Point (P2P) Integration Model
A common integration model when your business has only a few applications is point-to-point or one-to-one integration. Point-to-Point integrations offer a lightweight method for one application to be connected to another. While this model can be adequate for simpler integrations, it quickly starts becoming unmanageable as the number of integration points increases within your ERP eCommerce integration.
A P2P integration for two or three applications is quite simple, but it starts getting complex when more applications are involved. For example, if four different systems need to be integrated together, this means that the total number of point-to-point connections can be up to 12 according to the n(n-1) connections rule (also referred to as the n-squared problem). It’s not uncommon for large businesses to have hundreds of different applications that all need to be integrated. In this scenario, businesses should look towards a middleware integration model to reduce complexity.
• Middleware Integration Model
When a centralized program stands between numerous major systems, such as an ERP, Product Information Management (PIM), and eCommerce system, it is referred to as the middleware integration paradigm. Middleware offers a standard way for connecting a common system to the whole network, rather than each application requiring its own connection to plug into every other connector (as is the case with P2P integrations). Mulesoft, Apache Camel, SAP PO (Process Orchestration), SAP HANA Cloud Integration, and Microsoft Azure Logic Apps are some of the middleware solutions available for a ERP eCommerce integration.
• Enterprise Service Bus Model
When building a middleware integration layer, another form of architecture to consider is the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Its fundamental principle is to link many apps to a communication bus, after which each application may communicate with the bus. The bus serves as a message channel, free of the burden of middleware responsibilities (i.e. data transformation & routing).
Data Synchronization & Processing
Your firm will have two plans to layout for successful integration, regardless of the integration model you choose, and both plans require you to choose a processing strategy. Your initial data transfer is the first plan. What method will be used to load product and customer data? Data such as SKUs and customer IDs must be consistent throughout both systems, as previously mentioned. Before going live, make sure you give yourself enough time to thoroughly test your data migration. Allowing your consumers to act as test subjects is not a good idea. This is how an efficient ERP eCommerce integration ecosystem operates.
Will data be sent in real-time? Some ERP integrations consider this to be the Holy Grail, but it’s costly and typically needs considerable development. Will data be synchronized in batches? This needs a lot of processing power. The ultimate decision is a strategic one that necessitates a review of your available resources as well as your data requirements. It’s possible that a combination of real-time and batch processing is the best solution. This isn’t rare. The key differences between the two techniques are listed below.
The source system is constantly checked for new transactions using a real-time B2B eCommerce ERP connection. When a new transaction is identified, the system integrates it with the target system as soon as possible. Each transaction is recorded as it takes place. When data is time-sensitive, this sort of synchronization is required. It could also be the ideal option if you expect a high volume of transactions on a regular basis. The bigger the number of transactions in a batch, the longer it will take to process them. You avoid lengthy batch runs that hog resources and prevent other processes from running by processing in real-time.
This method delivers the most recent and up-to-date data, as well as efficient processing of a high number of transactions, but it is not without flaws. Synchronization of this nature might be difficult. It takes considerable development skills and knowledge, as well as the time required to create the sophisticated integration maps required to do this. These maps must highlight the precise data that needs to be merged while excluding irrelevant data. Because real-time processing is most effective when just the data that has to be synchronized is integrated. More data synchronization than is required is a waste of resources that negates the benefits of real-time processing with your ERP eCommerce integration.
Alternatively, batch ERP eCommerce integration is another possibility. Whereas real-time integration processes each transaction as it happens, batch integration processes all of the data that meets a set of criteria into the destination system at once. Batch integration consumes a lot of processing resources and takes a long time to complete since it processes all of the data that match the integration requirements at the same time in your ERP eCommerce integration ecosystem.
Batch integration, on the other hand, may be the way to go if the synchronization isn’t time-sensitive, if the interface between the ERP and eCommerce platform is restricted, or if it’s necessary to synchronize with as few processes as possible.
Choosing Your Partners
Finally, choose your eCommerce provider and integration partner wisely. This is a complicated process, and your partners must be aware of the difficulties you confront as well as your final goals. A good partner measures their success not by the amount of money they make from you, but by the amount of money they make from your firm as a result of the transaction for your ERP eCommerce integration setup.
A good team will be a solid partner. Look for a partner who has a large number of third-party applications supporting them. The more stable the ecosystem, the simpler it will be for you to adapt and develop. You’ll want platform partners who offer technical expertise to the table, whether it’s payment processing or online speed with an efficient ERP eCommerce integration setup.
A cloud-based connection provider like Cloras or Boomi, which both offer connectors for these two apps, is one option for any ERP eCommerce integration. These services link a wide range of corporate programs and are extremely customizable, allowing data to be merged or updated as it flows from one app to the next.
You must put your faith in the assistance of your integration partner for your ERP eCommerce integration process.
You should talk about the amount of service you’ll get once your integration project is completed. Examine if they monitor data flows, for instance, to ensure that transactions run smoothly across your system.
You’ll also want to know how fast they’ll respond if you have a problem; client happiness may hinge on their ability to resolve difficulties promptly.
Cloras provides client support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to ensure that your integrations stay up and running eternally.
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