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ERP Integration with eCommerce: Benefits, Methods, and Best Practices

By |November 23, 2022 January 9th, 2023No Comments

If you don’t have an ERP eCommerce integration, it’s probably holding you back.

B2B companies that update data manually—or don’t sync it at all—are leaving money on the table.

An automated integration can boost productivity, speed up processes, and even increase revenue.

Today we’ll cover the best ways to set up this critical integration, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to set up an integration that works for your organization.

What is an ERP eCommerce integration?

An ERP eCommerce integration connects an organization’s frontend eCommerce site with its backend ERP system. This syncs data on products, orders, customers, and more across the two platforms. Automatic data synchronization boosts productivity and maximizes revenue.

Chances are, you use a major eCommerce system like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, SAP Commerce Cloud (previously SAP Hybris), or Salesforce Commerce Cloud. You keep data like orders, customer information, and more in this platform.

Meanwhile, you record internal information, like inventory, accounting, supply chain management, human resources, and even customer relationship management (CRM) data in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Common platforms include Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Netsuite, Epicor P21, Eclipse, Acumatica, Distribution One, and SAP Business One.

But these two separate systems have overlapping data. And different information on different platforms can lead to missed orders, incorrect shipping information, inaccurate pricing, outdated inventory, and other problems.

An ERP eCommerce integration solves these issues. It synchronizes the data across these two platforms and streamlines your workflow, eliminating tedious manual data entry and improving your business processes.

How it works

Now, let’s dive into the specifics of how to create an ERP eCommerce integration that works for you.

Data sources

First, you need to understand the type of data sources you’ll use. This matters because it can help you decide what type of integration will work best.

Cloud-based. Most of today’s ERP and eCommerce platforms are based in the cloud and use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. These are easiest to integrate since they have universal connectors that can be integrated into other modern platforms.

On-premise. This is a back-office ERP platform that’s run off local hardware. While you can integrate with this type of system, it tends to be legacy software that presents new challenges.

Hybrid. Some businesses use a combination of tools, like a cloud-based eCommerce site and an on-premise ERP platform.

Methods

You can set up an ERP integration using one of three different methods.

Point-to-point. These are integrations that connect one application to another using a custom connector. But they’re brittle: if an application changes, the entire connector must be rewritten. And they expand exponentially—two applications only require two connectors, but three require six, four require twelve, and so on.

Enterprise service bus. This is a communication layer that moves data between applications. It’s more efficient than a point-to-point system but has limitations with the amount of data it can process and can create its own bottlenecks.

Third-party integrator. This is an integration tool that connects your ERP and eCommerce platforms seamlessly and handles the integration by itself. It uses APIs to ensure the process runs smoothly. This kind of tool is called an integration platform as a service (iPaaS).

Frequency

Real-time. With this automation frequency, data is synchronized as soon as it’s available. While this can be more convenient, it requires extensive infrastructure and can be more challenging.

Batch. In this model, all data is updated at regular intervals. Data is not up-to-date every minute, but this system is usually simpler and integrates best well with most platforms.

Types of data to transfer

Before starting with an eCommerce integration, you should decide what data to transfer and in which direction it will move. For example, you might only want order information to flow from your web store to your ERP system.

Some of the most common types of data to transfer include:

  • Product information
  • Customer data
  • Pricing
  • Shipping
  • Inventory levels
  • Order/invoice information
  • Taxes
  • Returns

Process for setting up an ERP integration

Here are the steps we recommend for setting up an ERP integration.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s examine the steps to successful ERP eCommerce integration.

  1. Establish clear goals. Both front-end and back-end parties should have a clear understanding of what they hope to achieve from the integration.
  2. Define the business processes to integrate. Make sure that both ERP and eCommerce systems can handle the necessary tasks.
  3. Map out the data flows. This will help ensure that data is transferred correctly and efficiently between systems.
  4. Test thoroughly before going live. Run several tests of the data integration process before moving into a live deployment. This will help ensure that there are no errors and that the systems are working properly together.
  5. Plan for post-integration support and maintenance. Systems will inevitably go down occasionally, so make sure you have someone who can troubleshoot issues and get the systems up and running again as quickly as possible.

But deciding to integrate your ERP and eCommerce systems is only the first step. You’ll also need to understand common challenges and best practices to overcome these issues.

Challenges

There are many issues you’ll face when integrating ERP and eCommerce systems. Some of them are on the human side, others are on the side of your integration software, and still others depend on the software you’re already using.

Here are some of the most common.

Scaling

Before embarking on an integration, ensure your existing eCommerce system and ERP solution can handle the integration’s data flow requirements. Most modern solutions shouldn’t hit any snags, but you want to ensure you don’t discover bottlenecks or slow down business operations midway through.

Budgeting

It’s easy for an integration project to go over budget, but the solution usually lies in planning. To prevent unexpected problems, develop a very clear plan ahead of time, so your integration can happen smoothly.

Custom integrations

Many ERP systems and online stores have bespoke features tailored to business needs. These can make integration more challenging since the usability isn’t the same as the software out-of-the-box. It also means updates and changes aren’t straightforward since there are custom features to support.

Older software

Outdated apps or legacy on-premise solutions can be challenging to integrate. If you’re considering upgrading to a cloud platform, this can make a big difference in how easily and quickly you can get started with your integration.

Multiple data types

The more data types you’ll need to integrate, the more complex the system will be. Look to simplify whenever possible. Making choices now to streamline your data flows will make it even easier to implement a smart integration.

Benefits of ERP eCommerce integration

Passing information between your frontend eCommerce and backend ERP software is absolutely necessary. It provides a seamless user experience, eliminates human error, and helps you scale.

The top benefits of ERP integration include:

1. Lower operating cost

An integration is more affordable than employee labor manually inputting data from one platform to another. Automatic synchronization of shipping information, inventory levels, product information, and more reduces the cost of operations.

2. Reduce or eliminate human error

Manual processes always lead to human error. A typo, a misplaced comma in a CSV file, or even a delay that results in outdated information all disappear with an automated integration.

3. Speed up fulfillment time

Integrated systems give instant access to the most up-to-date order information. That means less time from order processing to fulfillment, with no more reliance on manual tasks to move the process forward.

4. Lower inventory cost and better supply chain planning

An integration gives you real-time insight into inventory levels based on each customer order. When you’re not working from outdated information, current inventory management is easier, and planning for future needs is more accurate.

5. Data consistency across platforms

No more comparing two systems to see which has the customer’s updated billing address. An integration means data is always accurate across every platform. Details like customer information, orders, payments, and shipping information will be in sync across every team.

6. Eliminate data silos

Data silos keep important data separated by department, but integration eliminates this problem. Sales can adjust pricing to inventory, and operations can adjust production based on current sales demands.

7. Sync online and brick-and-mortar operations

Integrating your ERP and eCommerce business platforms makes it easy to manage both online and physical storefronts. This system will maintain correct inventory and fulfillment information everywhere, all the time.

8. Easier scalability

If you’re aligning data manually, you’ve created a bottleneck that will restrict future growth. An integration means data will no longer slow down fulfillment for large orders, heavy seasons, or even an unexpected influx of new customers.

9. Increased sales

Integrated systems mean more up-to-date data for customers on your eCommerce platform and better functionality for improved customer satisfaction. An easier and faster buying process means more sales and revenue.

10. Better customer loyalty

With integrated systems, you can keep track of customer data, leverage more targeted outreach and upsells, and keep customers happy by anticipating their needs. Integrated systems mean customers enjoy working with you and are more likely to stay for the long term.

11. Better customer experience

Integrating ERP software with your frontend eCommerce platform opens the door for a much better user experience. Customers can see up-to-date information about inventory or out-of-stock alerts, see their latest order status, and even track shipments.

12. Clearer financial reporting

Your eCommerce platform holds part of your financial data, like orders, pricing, and customers. Your ERP holds another part, like providers, cash flow, and profit/loss. By integrating the two, you make company-wide financials easier and more transparent.

Best practices

These best practices can help you avoid common challenges and ensure your integration process is a smooth one.

Choose the right integration solution

Using cron jobs, writing code, or even worse—manually transferring data between applications—can impact every aspect of your business.

Your eCommerce website and ERP platform are complex systems, so invest the time to choose an integration that works for your unique needs. Look for a tool that integrates with the platforms you rely on and has experience launching these very integrations.

Communicate with all stakeholders

An integration can affect almost everyone in your business, so ensure everyone is up to date with what’s happening. Explain how each sales channel will be impacted and what the integration will mean for the productivity of each department and the business as a whole. Work to get buy-in before moving forward with the live integration.

Choose the appropriate level of security

Look for an integration solution that provides the level of data security you need. A common misconception is that on-premise solutions are more secure. While they frequently provide more control over security settings, the reality is that cloud-based iPaaS applications usually have stricter protocols and follow more robust data compliance measures.

Find a partner that offers support

While most integrations happen seamlessly, even the small probability of an issue along the way matters when it impacts your offline and online business processes. Look for a solution that can auto-troubleshoot issues and has a 24/7 support team to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Conclusion

The benefits of integrating your ERP and eCommerce solutions are too important to miss. Bringing your eCommerce business to the next level requires data synchronization.

With DCKAP Integrator it’s a simple process to start synchronizing data across these two systems. The integrator has pre-built connections for the major ERP and eCommerce providers and is platform-agnostic to work with other software.

Looking for the best ERP eCommerce integration? Get started with DCKAP Integrator.

Aaron Pallares

Author Aaron Pallares

Aaron Pallares is a Solution Consultant and an Account Manager at DCKAP. As an expert on the DCKAP Integrator, he enjoys providing clients with demos and in-depth analysis of the digital architecture. He is always looking into previously held, existing, and new digital practices. He delights in better understanding the psychology of digital architecture, its interactions with businesses, and forward trends. He is a self-proclaimed, “forever student” of digital practices. When he is not working, he is either watching a movie or reading some books about human interactions and the tech world.

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