What is eCommerce Integration? Learn About Benefits and Obstacles
Before defining eCommerce integration, we should first understand eCommerce and integration as standalone terms.
ECommerce short for electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services via the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.
Integration in this instance is short for data integration. Integration is the process of combining data residing in different sources and providing users with a single unified view of that data.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know:
- What is eCommerce integration?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the obstacles?
- Why do you need eCommerce integration?
- How do you integrate your eCommerce business?
What is eCommerce Integration?
ECommerce integration is the coordination between a business' eCommerce website and their back-end systems, such as an ERP or CRM system.
Connecting an eCommerce application to an ERP allows wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers to create bidirectional flows of information between the two systems, meaning they only need to enter data into a single system.
For example, a business might use an ERP to keep track of inventory levels for each of its products. After implementing a direct-to-consumer business model, that company has begun to sell products online using a new eCommerce platform. When they sell an item online, the inventory count within their back-end ERP system must be adjusted to maintain accurate product numbers.
Without eCommerce integration, that business must manually update the inventory count in their ERP system AND in their eCommerce application.
And therein lies the value of a well-executed eCommerce integration. This strategy eliminates the need to enter the same information into two or more systems.
Efficient eCommerce integration creates accurate sales data through automated, real-time inventory updates in separate systems.
5 Benefits of eCommerce Integration
The need for eCommerce integration has astronomically increased as more companies embrace online sales and as brick and mortar stores become less and less critical. Here are five benefits to eCommerce integration adoption:
Elimination of manual order entry: An eCommerce integration platform allows companies to eliminate manual and duplicated data entries, as well as improve the speed of data exchange, by integrating Magento, Shopify, Amazon and other eCommerce applications, with their own ERP systems. Manual data entry is time consuming and inefficient. A modernized eCommerce platform strengthens this process, improving customer service efficiency and satisfaction.
- Accurate data and inventory levels: With eCommerce integration, the accuracy of data is never left to chance. Manual data entry means there is always going to be an opportunity for error, whether large or small. Inventory synchronization, real-time track updates, and pricing, all speed through the data exchange to make it more accurate than ever before.
Automatic notifications for customers: With your eCommerce application and back-end applications working in sync, automatic notifications for customers become easy. Customers know when you have shipped an order and they can track the delivery of their product.
- Simplified pricing: Pricing changes and product information updates are fast and decisive with only one update required in a single system.
Opportunity to grow your brand through new markets: ECommerce integration offers your business the adaptability to enter more online marketplaces, without losing operational efficiency. With each added sales channel, new customers become available. Diversified revenue streams, enhanced customer experience, and improved operating margins are cherries on top of the opportunity to grow your brand through eCommerce integration.
Business processes become more efficient through eCommerce integration. Integrated data provides the insight you need to make better, smarter decisions that align with the company’s strategy.
At the end of the day, an eCommerce integration platform makes it so businesses can handle increased demand without needing added resources.
Companies that have an eCommerce ERP integration strategy are the ones who have embraced modernized technology and recognize not only the potential ways they can eliminate errors and improve efficiency, but also improve the way they deliver exceptional customer service.
4 Obstacles to eCommerce Integration
The necessity for eCommerce integration prefaces the inherent problem in creating a bridge between the ERP and the eCommerce platform. Creating a functional pathway requires technological capabilities that are beyond that of a legacy solution. It requires modern integration.
Oftentimes, key stakeholders overlook the business need for integrating ERP systems with eCommerce applications because of cost, or the concern that altering existing processes will disrupt the business.
To create a well-run eCommerce ERP integration platform, there are a handful of obstacles companies must overcome. Here are four obstacles:
Not Understanding Requirements
Outdated and Legacy Systems
Lack of Multichannel Management
Lack of visibility
Not Understanding Requirements: A major issue that companies face happens before they have even begun to utilize a centralized integration platform. Companies often are not sure where to begin.
IT stakeholders are unclear on what the business requires of them to successfully manage trading partners, customers, and all the internal and external integrations that comprise their digital ecosystem.
The process can feel overwhelming. IT managers worry whether they have the IT staff to support and maintain an integration platform on top of their regular duties. There is also the concern that migrating data from one system to another will result in errors, security risks, or data loss.
Before embarking on this integration modernization journey, companies must create internal alignment. They should determine what they are trying to achieve with integration, what challenges they must address, and what systems they plan on integrating.
Going a bit further, companies need to recognize what data should be synchronized between the systems, as well as what processes and workflows can and should be automated.
The right eCommerce integration project begins with the end in mind.
Outdated and Legacy Systems: While everything might appear to work as usual on the service, the fact remains that relying on legacy and outdated technology causes companies to drop and miss orders. Their technology does not provide end-to-end integration visibility for every single online order.
Compared with a modern integration platform, legacy systems are clunky and downright hard to work around.
Sometimes the tools and systems you have relied on for years work for your business and will continue to meet your daily business needs for the foreseeable future. But when you are ready to bring on new partners and services, migrate applications to the cloud, or support big data initiatives, legacy systems often do not provide the capabilities that the business requires to be successful.
If you are receiving charge backs from your trading partners, or you lack the technical ability to handle API integration requirements, it is likely time to consider modernizing your eCommerce solution.
Lack of Multichannel Management: Traditionally, an eCommerce platform provides companies with the technology that allows a merchant to sell to their customers on their very own website through a regular web browser. This fails to take in two important considerations:
Retailers also sell through many other channels, such as call centers, brick and mortar stores, mail order catalogs, online marketplaces, and other websites, to name a few.
Customers want to buy using their own devices, whether it’s an iPhone or their personal laptop, so there will be a constant challenge associated with getting master data that can sync up with the other systems connected to those customer touch points.
Lack of visibility: Companies who have yet to modernize their solution face a lack of visibility, which prohibits them from being able to make real-time decisions based on performance. By consolidating legacy integration systems to enhance business processes, companies can centralize the amount of control they have over a piece of data and gain end-to-end visibility.
Once companies have fully embraced a modernized integration platform, they can begin to gain complete visibility for every single online order. Think of the value gained from total omnichannel integration visibility. All your online, retail, and wholesale orders unified in a single view, with full EDI and API integration.
Why You Need an eCommerce Backend Integration Now
Regardless of the industry, organizations need to be able to connect their ERP.
It should not matter whether that’s Shopify or NetSuite as an eCommerce platform, companies need modern integration software that allows them to deliver everything faster to customers.
The reality in 2020 and beyond is that COVID-19 has changed retail forever. Because of the dramatic increase in online orders, eCommerce integration has never been more important.
Going forward, an eCommerce backend integration is fundamental to becoming an adaptable organization. Whether it is disruption in wholesale caused by disintermediation, or the explosion in eCommerce because of COVID-19, companies must recognize the importance of being agile and the need to grow their respective brands.
By installing an eCommerce integration platform, you are taking the important step in supporting your integrations across the entire supply chain, from logistics and transportation to manufacturing and wholesale and distribution.
Once you have fully modernized your eCommerce platform, the 2020 edition of Black Friday will be your most efficient and profitable one yet.
So…How do I Modernize my eCommerce Platform?
While these challenges that we have outlined above might seem daunting, the reality is that with the right partner by your side, they can be conquered.
Cleo Integration Cloud provides eCommerce integration software that is done right. Grow your sales with an integration platform designed to power direct-to-consumer, omnichannel, and digital shopping experiences.
Accelerate any eCommerce omnichannel or marketplace initiative. Create faster time-to-revenue through out-of-the-box connectors, pre-defined templates, and robust APIs to integrate any direct-to-consumer channel.
Simplify eCommerce operations, improve team efficiency, and eliminate manual steps with complete automation and orchestration of your order-to-cash process, from digital store front to ERP, CRM, or fulfillment system.
Do not hesitate – contact us now to learn more and begin your modernization journey.