Why and How Companies Should Integrate E-commerce with ERP
Author: Elisa Evangelio
Marketing Specialist @Quistor Italy-RTT
The E-Commerce has grown exponentially in recent months, but what is the current situation of companies? We can say that there are three main cases:
1. Companies that do not yet own E-commerce. 2. Companies that have outsourced E-commerce. 3. Companies that already have E-commerce and have integrated it with their ERP.
Why integrating E-commerce with ERP is the right choice to make?
The integration between ERP with the E-Commerce platform has a lot of advantages. In every flow of online activity it is required that the information collected by the E-Commerce website is transferred as soon as possible within the ERP.
Which are the main goals? First of all, we can say that integration meets one need: know how to optimize data! So what objectives do we want to achieve?
- Get end-to-end data processing
- Synchronize all sales steps
- Improve visibility
- Optimize processes
- Availability of data in real-time
Furthermore, there are some crucial aspects from a process and technological point of view that must be considered and afterwards analysed. Let’s see them.
Which are the process aspects to consider?
First of all, it is essential to emphasize that during the integration process the technology is only an enabler. Let’s say that just choosing the platform is not enough! E-commerce is a new point of view, to introduce the company into the market, a new way that brings the company to partially revise its flows. Because of this, the first step that has to be done is a deep knowledge about the flows that go towards E-commerce and vice versa.
The structured analysis of the processes is essential! Good integration is based on this type of analysis. Otherwise, the risk is having an E-commerce platform that does not work or works just 50% of it. Therefore a deep knowledge about the industry of the client as a fundamental point that makes the difference. This is because every sector has its peculiarities that must necessarily be considered.
Which are the technical aspects to take in account?
In order to operate in a professional way into the electronic commerce you need two reliable and interconnected software: 1. An E-commerce platform that interacts with the market; 2. An ERP for the management and automation of the enterprise.
To ensure maximum efficiency of all processes and the avoidance of errors, it is essential that the two systems dialogue directly in "near real-time" and are integrated with each other. In fact, a good integration system allows automatisms that simplify and speed up online sales processes, making them scalable and reducing the risk of errors and delays.
There are four main processes to consider:
The import of products: the synchronization of the products’ feed from the management aspect to E-commerce is crucial. Inside the ERP it is possible to configure the product data sheets setting the description, the variants, the identification codes, materials, and the pictures for making the import easier inside the e-commerce platform, with the reduction of the loading times, errors, and bugs.
The acquisition of orders: the synchronization of orders allows updating the availability of the products in real-time, improving the purchasing experience of the customer, and decreasing the workload of the E-commerce employees.
The integration with shipment: by integrating ERP and E-commerce, for each purchase made online, the system transmits an order to the warehouse that provides shipping and automatically returns feedback. It allows employees to update the information about the customer in real-time, offering excellent customer service.
Invoicing: by integrating ERP with E-commerce, invoicing is automated, speeding up the order accounting process and ensuring full consistency between online transactions and tax and accounting documents.
E-commerce: integration scenarios
The possible integration scenarios between E-commerce and ERP are three:
- Asynchronous Scenario: in which there are no integrations between E-commerce and ERP.
- Synchronous Scenario: in which the integration is real-time and the exchange of data is constant.
- Hybrid scenario: in which the integration is partial, that involves a selective exchange of data. In this scenario, processes are distributed between ERP and E-commerce that are strongly interconnected.
It is necessary to identify and design the most suitable scenario for every company that is already equipped with an ERP and wants to start selling online with B2B or B2C sales processes!
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