6 Best Practices for Integrating eCommerce to ERP
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software helps to manage different business applications, such as inventory control, ordering, and payroll by integrating these operations and the data they collect into one single system. ERP software reduces costs, increases efficiency and productivity, fueling revenue and profits. This advanced software compiles and analyzes data quickly and provides businesses with accurate, real-time information, enabling buinesses to gain insight into all their processes.
In the case of businesses operating online, integrating the eCommerce into a business's ERP is vital to a business recognizing it's full potential and streamline processes. However, sadly, it's easy for companies to get involved in a cycle of using poorly planned integration that ends up sucking much of the money, time, and resources right out of a business.
By integrating their online channel to the operating ERP system, eCommerce businesses can achieve tremendous positive effects including better customer experiences, greater transparency across the entire value chain and faster order processing.
Below you will find some of the best practices for integrating eCommerce to an ERP solution:
1. Build A Business Case
You must take the time to think critically about what integrating your business can accomplish.
If you can't justify why the reason is that you are integrating something into your business case that might be a great clue to the concept that that integration is not necessary for the success of the business. Sketching and drawing out a plan to help justify the integrations your business makes is a great way to start building up a business case for your company.
2. Narrow the List of Features to Integrate
While you want features and data to populate each different system, you also want a smooth integration that is not overloaded. For that reason, you must narrow the list of the critical features that are most useful to the integration process. These include product data, logistic information, tracking data, costs, associated customer etc.
[ Related: 7 Ways ERP Adds Value To Your Company ]
Choosing an integration path where your company automates as many processes as possible can have a postive impact in the overall process, as it minimizes human error and thus improves its consistency. Costs might be reduced because they do not need as much manual labor for every step in the process. Automation of processes can occur with a variety of actions such as email status updates, checkout, shipments, deliveries, orders and much more.
4. Look for Value Opportunities Customized to Your Situation
Every integration differs from the next one, as each business has different ways to create value, regardless of the channel they operate in.
One of the most straightforward ways is to prepare for scaling in areas that you plan to grow. Is the company going to expand its range of products and SKUs? Or is the volume of data going to grow with more fine transaction details? Whatever the path, integration is the time to plan for it.
5. Understand Which People Need To Be Involved
Getting the right people involved in the integration process from the eCommerce to the ERP system is vital to ensuring everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Ensuring you have people equipped and trained to ensure that that happens involved in the process is critical; to making it work out with minimal interruptions to your daily business operations. This includes getting application specialists who understand the systems that are needing to be integrated involved in the process as well a team leader that can supervise and ensure the correct outcome.
6. Plan Specific Integration Points
Laying out a plan of integration points is another pillar of the integration process. It is important to know which systems will be integrated through and what, specifically, that will accomplish.
You will need to know a) where your data is coming from, b) where the data is going, and c) which directions (if one or many) that information will have to flow. A few examples migh be data regarding online and offline orders, product and inventory data. Of course it is possible to program a few initially and build up others over time.
Integrating data from an eCommerce platform to an ERP solution allows it to access information faster, providing excellent analysis and reporting, enabling businesses to identify and respond to customer trends and identify areas requiring improvement. Although it might seem like a daunting process, truth is in most instances, a careful and detailed strategy is the most valuable tool when starting the journey of integrating data from an online commerce to an ERP system.