Ecommerce ERP integration and how it can help your business
Running an ecommerce business requires coordinating many moving parts. Each facet — be it scheduling, inventory, internal communications, or accounts payable — can live in a separate system and demand unique processes, and it’s up to you to make sure everything works together.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools can help consolidate the coordination of key resources like supplies and personnel into a single system. Integrating your ecommerce platforms with your ERP streamlines planning systems even further, maximizing efficiency and minimizing headaches.
This post will walk you through the basics of ecommerce ERP integration, including:
- What ecommerce ERP integration is
- Important ERP features for ecommerce
- The benefits of ecommerce ERP integration
- How to get started integrating your ERP
Whether you’re just browsing or ready to take the plunge, it’s good to have a solid foundation before making any decisions that will affect your business.
What is ecommerce ERP integration?
Ecommerce ERP integration is the process of setting up your ecommerce and ERP platforms to automatically communicate with one another so you don’t have to be the go-between. It allows you to enter and view your business data all in one place without switching between programs. These two core business programs working together can dramatically improve efficiency and productivity.
The back end of an ecommerce platform processes orders, collects payments, and manages inventories. Many companies have separate ERP programs that handle tasks like accounts payable, supply chain management, personnel management, and other core facets of running a business.
When an ecommerce platform is integrated with an ERP platform, the two work in tandem to help managers get work done. The ERP synchronizes all the data in one centralized location. This synchronization can also automate current logistical processes, streamlining them significantly to increase productivity.
Important ERP features for ecommerce
Some ERP tools integrate more easily with ecommerce platforms than others. For instance, some ERP applications come with built-in ecommerce integration capabilities, while others offer those features as add-ons. There are a few key features you’ll want your ERP software to have in order to get the most out of your ecommerce integration.
Financial data is critical to your business, and it’s critical that your ERP system can manage it efficiently. You want your ERP to be able to automate as many aspects of accounts payable and accounts receivable as possible. With strong finance features already set up, every live sale can be immediately updated in your ledger once your ERP is integrated with your ecommerce platform.
If you’re using separate accounting software, you’ll benefit from integrating that with your ERP setup as well. Without integrating finances into your ERP, you’ll be stuck communicating between programs manually, wasting employees’ time and introducing the opportunity for data entry errors.
Inventory is fundamental to any ecommerce business, as is inventory management. With ERPs, businesses can manage inventory location, quantity, and cost from a single system — automating key processes and eliminating human errors.
Real-time inventory updates ensure you always know when it’s time to order, avoiding stock outs, back orders, and delayed order fulfillments. Having up-to-date inventory stats is especially important for high-volume sellers and any businesses with multiple warehouses or a large volume of different products.
Standardizing customer relationship management (CRM) across your entire business helps guarantee you’re managing all customer accounts equally at every step of the customer journey. Robust CRM features in your ERP make handling customer requests easier, so you spend less time looking for the right account and more time focusing on improving service and customer retention.
- Consolidating customer information across channels simplifies omnichannel reporting, always attributing the correct purchase to the correct customer.
- Built-in communications allow you to automatically reach out with discounts or promotions to targeted subsets.
Shipping and distribution
Working alongside inventory management, an ERP should empower you to manage all shipping information, distribution, and order tracking. The best software will automate repeatable tasks like generating and printing shipping labels and creating order forms, making life significantly easier for warehouse workers while also preventing manual errors.
The benefits of ecommerce ERP integration
Once you have the right ERP setup, integrating your ecommerce platform benefits your business inside and out — your employees’ jobs will be more straightforward and your customers will appreciate the increased efficiency. There are a number of measurable benefits to ecommerce ERP integration. Let’s run through a few of the most important.
Boosted productivity is the calling card of ERP integration. That’s because consolidating all the data from across your business ensures that you and your teams no longer waste time trying to reconcile different data sets or find the information you need. The ERP provides a single, centralized system for all your data, which, in turn, synchronizes your departments and workflows. ERPs also automate certain tasks, giving employees more time to work on higher value duties.
Better customer experience
It’s not just your management team that reaps the benefits of increased productivity — your customers will notice too. Improved CRM capabilities combined with automated payment, shipping, and tracking result in a smoother, faster, higher quality experience for customers.
Improved data access
Not only does the ERP let you view all your company data in one place, but by integrating it with an ecommerce platform, you’re also receiving customer data in real time.
Having all the data you need in a single location informs smarter, faster decisions. When everything is integrated, it’s also easier to produce company reports — no information is siloed or out of reach. This makes tax compliance easier.
Increased process visibility and streamlining
Integrated ecommerce simplifies every step of the process, from making it easier to manage to completely automating it. Whether it’s with accounting or order tracking, ERPs can automate repetitive tasks, reducing user error and streamlining processes. Greater efficiency lowers processing times, increases conversions, and improves customer satisfaction.
When set up well, an ERP can immediately show you where specific inefficiencies are in your business and help you correct them. Beyond that, ecommerce integration lets you stay on top of your inventory in real time, facilitating just-in-time inventory management and ensuring you’ll never buy more than you need. And any time your ERP ecommerce integration saves you time, it’s also saving you money.
How to get started integrating your ERP
As you prepare to launch a new ERP ecommerce integration, there are a few general steps you should expect to follow to develop your ERP integration strategy.
- Identify your ecommerce apps and platforms. This may seem obvious, but the first step is to know which platforms you want to integrate with the ERP. Your business may have one core ecommerce platform or you might have an array of apps and platforms that handle different channels or sectors.
- Identify your most important data. Get clear on the information most important to integrate to ensure its prioritization and accuracy. This may be your orders, customer data, or other financial information.
- Identify your manual and inefficient processes. Consider how your employees spend their time and which tasks stand out as repetitive or error-prone. Perhaps your accounts payable always has a backlog of invoices or your teams struggle to take manual inventory at the end of each quarter. These are the tasks you’ll want to focus on automating after integration.
- Figure out what kind of ERP you need and which ones integrate with your existing ecommerce platform. For instance, you should know whether you want to deploy your ERP on-site on your servers or in the cloud. This may vary depending on the volume of your data and the security precautions you need to take. You’ll also have choices for types of ERP system models, like generalist all-purpose systems, more customizable modular systems, or software suites.
- Decide how you want to integrate. There are a few ways you might integrate your ecommerce platform with your ERP. You may be able to use your ecommerce platform’s API, your ERP may have native ecommerce integration capabilities, or you might need to use a third-party solution with a pre-built integration process.
Challenges of ERP integration
Integrating ecommerce with ERP can be challenging. Although the benefits of integration are appealing and the steps for getting started are simple enough, certain roadblocks may still crop up.
- Old software. If you haven’t updated your systems in a while, connecting with a newer software is going to take extra work. This is a bigger issue with ERP software than with other systems, and it can be daunting to shift over a system that’s responsible for so much.
- Customization. If you’ve already heavily tailored your existing ERP or ecommerce platform to your business, chances are the usual integration strategies won’t work as well. You’ll have to create a custom plan. It’s still doable, just be aware that it will take extra effort to integrate your customizations along with the rest.
- Pricing. New systems can be pricey and you may have to pay a higher cost upfront with the hope that it’ll be worth it once everything is in place. Luckily, ERP systems usually do pay for themselves in the long run, through increases in efficiency and productivity. But there’s still that upfront investment that can take some financial planning.
- Data variety. Ecommerce can be a complicated space and a lot of different data types can make your integration a bit tougher. Different platforms may store data in different formats, and some types of information — like browsing histories or abandoned carts— can be complicated to quantify and organize. Depending on compatibility, moving existing data to a new platform or introducing a new platform that needs to communicate with an existing one can add hurdles.
Get started with ecommerce ERP integration
Integrating your ecommerce systems with an ERP allows the two to operate simultaneously and efficiently. Communication between the platforms permits the automation of simple tasks, streamlining key processes while making accurate information about your business readily available to decision makers.
The first step to successfully integrating is to take stock of your current systems. Make sure your ecommerce platform is up to date and running smoothly.
When you’re ready to get started, Adobe Commerce is ready to help. As the leading ecommerce platform, Commerce integrates seamlessly with your ERP to automatically sync your inventory, orders, customer data, and shipping details. Ready to learn more? Watch this short overview video to get started.